A deep dive into why the more modest swim top is enjoying a revival.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen almost every outrageous trend of the 2000s and 90s come back through fashion’s revolving door. Of micro mini-skirts, debatable thin eyebrows and, of course, the controversial return of low-rise bottoms, it’s clear we can’t let go of our obsession with the past.
Most of these trends have sparked mixed thoughts and emotions about why we would welcome back these polarizing designs, which were ultimately made for one body type, as a byproduct of the nefarious age of fashion. ‘”chic heroine”. But there’s another late 2000s look that’s making waves again on social media that I think we can all sidestep: the tankini.
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Local label Bye Bambi recently put on a swim top design in productionwhile favorite influencer Frankies Bikinis is also selling his Tankini bikini top in four different colours, including a particularly nostalgic hibiscus print. One of the brands that really convinced me of the resurgence of the tankini was the emergence of the Perth label, Loliéa Swim.
After seeing the distinctly neon print Marie-Kate Halter one too many times on my Instagram feed, I was obsessed. Safe to say I wasn’t alone, as the brand has sold and restocked the floral lycra design multiple times since its launch. Like most good trends, the humble tankini really had some fun in the sun from the late 1900s to the early 2000s.
A Voice article suggests that the style met a national need in the United States at the time for “both for parents of teenage girls who wanted a stopgap before the string bikini and for adult women who just wanted a little freedom and not bad cover”. Some might say the tankini reached its peak when model Kate Moss sported a chic Gucci number on the May 1998 cover of Harper’s Bazaar.
In 2001, the New York Times reported The popularity of the tankini was already on the decline, and since then it has quietly taken a back seat while thong bikinis and one-pieces reigned supreme. Just reading the word tankini is probably enough to conjure up a memory of you rocking the more modest design at your elementary school swim carnival or on a family vacation in Bali.
Maybe you shake your head, calling it daggy. But all Y2K Trends who are going around in circles have a sticky element that we have since recovered? Think about the faded blond silver coins, trucker caps and cargo pants. It’s probably the same thing that makes them cool again.
And if you’re not already convinced, the Melbourne designer by Emily Watson stuffy resort and swimming collection reinvents the tankini as a fashion-forward top fit for the modern-day party girl in 2022. The draped silhouette is designed to resemble a group of bikini tops with multiple ties and has been worn by the internet’s ultimate it-girls , Bella Hadid and Emma Chamberland. I think I can rest my case.
But why is the tankini back now? Coming Soon Futures strategist and trend forecaster Tully Walter said, given our love of sartorial nostalgia, it’s “a natural evolution” that we’d dig up “typically noughties smart swim essentials.” “In the rush of noise and speed of the digital age, today’s cohort of middle-aged consumers find security and comfort in images of the past,” says Tully.
“From sentimental reboots leading our Netflix watchlist to ‘Flashback Fridays’ dominating our playlists, today’s most resonant moments in pop culture can be seen through a rose-tinted lens of decades past. For example, consider the low tech aesthetic, powered by a thousand tuned it-girls. However, it’s new tech platforms like Depop and TikTok that have accelerated the popularity of these nostalgic aesthetics.
Tully says the past two years have brought a “radical shake-up of the status quo for the fashion industry”, as TikTok launched a whole new funnel of trends instead of the traditional trending events like runways, carpets reds and festivals. “TikTok has quickly become an incubator rather than a broadcaster of fashion trends. Giving birth to aesthetics like #Y2K (amassing over 2 billion views), the app has become a nebulous platform for trends, and the fashion industry is paying attention.
Interestingly, the trend is also a testament to fashion’s growing focus on sustainability. I know that I personally think about the question “Where can I wear this?”, more and more every time I buy something new. And the fact that a good tankini can be worn for a day at the beach, and nights out, is a win.
Pairing this with Gen Z’s avid interest in thrift, recycling and vintage clothing in general, Tully suggests it was only a matter of time before the girls on TikTok figured it out anyway. our old swim tops at Savers. “As young people discover their identity and style and embark on a fluid journey of discovery, we can expect to see more relics from the year 2000 unearthed,” she adds. Granted, it’s not the next trend I’ve seen come back from back then, but I’m here for it.
For more on the history of the tankini, try this.