On hot summer days, the pool and beach are great places to cool off. While people enjoy cooling off in the water, they also turn pools and beaches into colorful swimsuit shows. A swimsuit is a special piece of clothing worn when moving in the water or on the beach. Whether in the East or the West, the ancients did not have a special swimsuit when swimming, and the swimsuit in the modern concept was slowly developed after swimming became a sport. A century-old history of modern swimwear, but also an evolutionary history of humanistic concepts and scientific and technological development. The change of swimwear has had a profound impact on swimming, and also reflects people’s pursuit of fashion, practicality, health and other concepts.

1 The earliest swim trunks did not have elastic bands

In ancient times, affected by political, cultural, religious and other social factors, there was no real sense of swimming suits in the East and the West. In ancient Greece, swimming was not a sport in the ancient Olympic Games, but it was also very popular. At that time, people regarded well-exercised and dark skin as beauty, and when they competed, they were all naked, and swimming was no exception. But by the European Middle Ages, religious theology confined the human body to various barrel garments, which caused swimming to stagnate for a long time.

In the East, some people say that China is the first country in the world to carry out swimming, because in the Book of Poetry there is “In its depth, the ark of the square; In terms of its shallowness, swim swimming” means crossing in a bamboo raft boat where the water is deep, and diving or swimming in a shallow place. Ancient Chinese swimmers generally wore lifestyle clothes, mainly covering the body. Qing Dynasty novels such as “Seven Heroes and Five Righteousness” and “The Complete Biography of Jigong” have appeared in the “water clothing” and “water leaning” used when diving. It is said to be a one-piece diving suit made of fish, sea or shark skin, with a smooth and warm surface, which allows people to stay underwater longer and swim faster, such as Jiang Ping, the “river rat”, often wore when he went into the water.

In the 17th century, European aristocratic women were given medical baths, but they had to pack their bodies into thick anxile-length sweatshirts and wear hats and gloves. This yukata for wearing in public is wide and stiff, and the cuffs can be spread out in the water, which is very uncomfortable.

In the 19th century, under the influence of educational reform, swimming as a recreational activity and competitive activity developed rapidly, first beginning in England. In 1862, a British club held the first official swimming competition in history in the London gymnasium, and the official swimming suit was introduced. However, due to the influence of strict and closed social etiquette, ideology and culture, ethics and morality, the design and production concept of swimsuits at that time was transformed on the basis of life clothing according to the characteristics of swimming, which was very complex and cumbersome, and was not conducive to swimming.

The men’s swimsuit of the sixties and seventies of the 19th century was a fat horizontal shirt and shorts made of thick khaki, and the shorts did not have elastic bands, so they often slipped when entering the water, sometimes even to the ankles. At the end of the 19th century, women began to participate in swimming, and the women’s swimsuit at this time was a woven garment with long sleeves and trousers similar to children’s pajamas, knee-length opaque stockings and lace-up shoes on the feet, and a close-fitting shirt under the long-sleeved tunic. When dressed like this, it is like a big cloth bag.

2 one-piece swimsuits are born

In the development of modern swimwear for more than a hundred years, the evolution of men’s swimwear tends to develop steadily, while women’s swimwear tends to develop by leaps and bounds, and the change is great.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the rapid economic development of various countries, people’s minds have been greatly liberated, and sports have gradually penetrated into people’s daily lives. The design and production of clothing that conforms to the corresponding sports has become an urgent problem for the garment manufacturing industry at that time. During this period, men’s swimsuits were reduced to a single form of shorts, which were very convenient for swimming. The development of women’s swimsuits has also taken a leap, giving birth to very classic one-piece swimsuits and split swimsuits.

As soon as the 20th century entered, sleeveless swimsuits appeared exclusively for women. In 1907, Australian-born female swimmer Annette Kellerman broke the mold and designed a swimsuit for her practical needs. She does this by combining a swimsuit with the skinny stockings of a vaudeville juggler to create a one-piece vest-style swimsuit that fits snugly to her skin and is easy to swim. That year, she was arrested for obstructing decency for wearing this one-piece swimsuit that exposed her arms, legs and neck in Boston Beach, USA. Kellerman’s arrest attracted public attention, which instead promoted the popularity of this new swimsuit. In 1910, the one-piece swimsuit became the standard for women’s swimwear in parts of Europe and was designated as the official women’s swimsuit for the 1912 Summer Olympics.

The 30s of the 20th century can be said to be the golden age of swimsuit fashion, and many new styles were introduced, especially the emergence of one-piece backless women’s swimsuits and split women’s swimsuits, which became a hot topic in people’s streets.

In 1930, as sunbathing became popular, one-piece backless swimsuits were first introduced in Europe. Among the many popular elements, there are two decorative elements that ran through the swimsuit scene almost throughout the 30s of the 20th century, one is the belt, and the other is the stripe. Since 1930, fashionable girl swimsuits published in Western fashion pictorial magazines have been decorated with belts. The style of this swimsuit is characterized by a one-piece, top-down or heterogeneous color, with trouser loops nailed to the waist and a belt worn in it. Between 1930 and 1932, swimsuits were mostly different colors above and below, and the color of the belt was generally different from that of swimsuits, with a width of about 3 to 4 cm, with buckles, made of metal, plastic, etc., and also woven with decorative buckles made of the same material. After 1933, the style of the belt changed. Sometimes it’s just a tie that is tied and knotted after a week or two around the waist.

Popular at the same time as the belt, there is also a striped pattern. The most common is the blouse woven with monochrome horizontal stripes and a belt, a style that became popular in the early 2030s. Stripes are designed in a variety of ways, including vertical stripes, diagonal stripes, wavy stripes, etc., either on the vest, at the hem of culottes, or at the waist, or all over the body, with a wide range of thickness intervals. In addition to stripes, geometric or face-split patterns are also popular.

In 1934, the split swimsuit with the upper and lower bodies appeared, and the following year began to make its mark in China. Yang Xiuqiong, the “mermaid” who won the women’s 100-meter freestyle championship at the Far Eastern Games and broke the Far East record, wore a set of swimsuits with broken upper and lower bodies when she took photos for Liangyou magazine. During this period, there was also a great breakthrough in the material of swimsuits. When designing and producing swimsuits, American nylon clothing manufacturer Jantzen abandoned the previous inelastic, absorbent cotton wool material and artificial fibers, and replaced it with nylon fabric with high elasticity, high breathability and low water absorption, making the swimsuit more close and convenient for exercise. Nylon swimsuits were a hit as soon as they appeared.

3 “like an atomic bomb” bikini

In the mid-40s of the 20th century, the just-concluded Second World War plunged countries into material deprivation. Almost overnight, the luxury of Western fashion circles disappeared completely, replaced by the worship of simplicity and practicality. At the same time, the status of women increased dramatically during World War II, and women’s liberation movements surged around the world. A combination of factors led to the birth of a bikini swimsuit that seemed shocking at the time in 1946.

Bikini was originally a place name, it is an uninhabited coral island located in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Beginning in 1946, the United States conducted nuclear tests on the “hosted” island of Bikini. On June 30, an atomic bomb of unprecedented power was detonated on the island, shocking the world. In July of the same year, Louis Real, a Frenchman who studied aerodynamics, designed a women’s swimsuit consisting of three pieces of cloth and four straps. The swimsuit with the smallest body area in the world is simple and small. If you wear it, most of your body will be exposed. Real predicted that the invention of this swimsuit was a challenge to traditional ideas, and the world was no less shocking than the atomic bomb that had just exploded, so he named this swimsuit after the “bikini”, where the atomic bomb exploded. At the swimsuit launch event on the seashore of Saint-Tropez, France, the bikini swimsuit caused a public outcry as soon as it was unveiled. For a long time after its introduction, Italy, Spain and other Mediterranean countries banned it. The Vatican considers wearing a bikini guilty. The United States also does not allow bikinis on public beaches. In 1951, at the first Miss World contest in London, the organizing committee banned competitors from wearing bikinis. It wasn’t until the late 50s of the 20th century that Hollywood began to embrace bikinis. Marilyn Monroe’s artistic photos in bikinis appeared in various fashion magazines, and people began to look at this sexy swimsuit differently.

In fact, until the 90s, there were still many countries that refused to accept bikinis. Later, female players in beach volleyball found that it was more comfortable to wear bikini games, because if you wear ordinary loose jerseys, it is easy to let sand get into your clothes during strenuous exercise on the beach, and it is much better to wear a tight bikini. As a result, the bikini became the official jersey of beach volleyball, and thus appeared more in the public eye.

According to contemporary scholars, on the frescoes of the Casal Roman villa in Sicily, Italy in the 4th century AD, there is an image of an ancient Roman female athlete holding a discus or dumbbell wearing bikini-like clothes.

4 epoch-making “shark skin”

From the 60s of the 20th century to the beginning of this century, the world clothing industry was unprecedentedly prosperous. New materials and new production techniques emerged, and competitive swimsuits specifically designed for competition began to appear. The azure swimming pool has become a competition field for scientific and technological forces from various countries.

In the early 60s of the 20th century, DuPont in the United States began to produce a spandex fiber called Lycra. It can greatly improve the elasticity and elongation of the fabric, the stretch can reach 500%, but it can be closely attached to the surface of the human body after recovery, and the binding force on the human body is very small. After the LYCRA fiber was put on the market, the swimwear industry quickly saw its potential, and it was combined with new printing and dyeing technology to make the simplest swimsuits also have bright colors and prints.

Since the 80s of the 20th century, competitive sports have developed rapidly, and the demand for competitive swimwear by professional swimmers has become more and more urgent. At the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, the shoulder straps and crotch cut of the swimsuit were improved and the performance was further improved. At the 1988 Seoul Olympics, an American company introduced a “Hercules” swimsuit containing polyurethane fibers and ultra-fine nylon fibers to help American athletes win gold medals at the Olympics.

In the 90s of the 20th century, swimwear entered a new period of rapid development, both in terms of texture and materials and design and production concepts. Australia’s Speedo’s S2000 swimsuit, made of polyester and lycra fibres, made for swimmers, made its mark at the 1992 Barcelona and 1996 Atlanta Olympics. The S2000 swimsuit is said to reduce water drag and speed up for about 1 second in the 100-meter freestyle. In October 1999, FINA officially allowed the swimsuit to compete and expressed support for improving it.

At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, a truly epoch-making swimsuit – “sharkskin” appeared. “Shark skin” was developed by Sobitao. The first generation of “shark skin” uses fibers that mimic the structure of shark skin, which directs the surrounding water flow and increases the speed of swimming. At the 2004 Athens Olympics, Sobitao introduced the second generation of “sharkskin”, and 47 competitors wore this swimsuit to the podium. This swimsuit adds granular dots to the surface of the fabric, which can reduce water resistance by 30%. In 2007, the company developed the third generation of “sharkskin” composed of anti-oxygen elastic yarn and extra-fine nylon yarn, which helped swimmers from all over the world break 21 world records in one year. At the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the fourth generation of “sharkskin” helped “Flying Fish” Phelps to win 8 gold medals and break 3 world records.

However, by the time of the 13th World Swimming Championships in 2009, the “sharkskin” was outdated, and the limelight was completely overshadowed by the supposedly faster swimsuit. These high-tech swimsuits have turned 43 world records in a row, turning the World Swimming Championships into a crazy tech show. But the constant updating of high-tech swimsuits makes people forget the essence of competitive competition. After the 13th World Swimming Championships, FINA decided to ban polyurethane synthetic swimsuits from January 1, 2010, and the competition uniforms must be “textile” short swimsuits.

5. Fashionable casual swimwear

As more and more people are fascinated by swimming, many people take the swimsuit style of swimming stars as a fashion standard. Since the beginning of this century, the development of competitive swimsuits has led to the diversification of mass swimwear. In particular, women’s pursuit of beauty has promoted various swimsuit companies to develop swimwear with novel styles, beautiful shapes and diverse colors to meet the needs of consumers of different ages, consumer groups and income classes.

A popular casual swimsuit that is convenient for underwater activities and has a quick drying function after landing, so that swimmers do not have to rush to change their swimsuit, and can continue their next activities leisurely. Therefore, a skirt-style swimsuit is popular with many women. It has evolved swimsuits from single-function, fixed-point wear to multi-functional, multi-venue wear. Ladies can wear swimsuits to the resort for a hot spring bath or beach walk. The culottes, tennis skirts, and swimsuits derived from this are also very popular.

Since swimsuits are smaller than everyday clothing, and the superfluous decorations are abandoned, the style is simple, so the decors and patterns are very important. In order to match the enthusiasm of summer, the patterns of swimsuits are mainly marine, plants, animals, flowers, such as clouds, mulberry orchids, sunflowers, coconut trees, tropical fish, etc., which are common in swimsuits. Stripes, polka dots, leopard prints, jacquards and other patterns will always be the darlings of the swimsuit fashion industry. The colors of swimsuits, young and old, are mostly colorful and colorful, highlighting the summer movement.

Today, people wear casual swimwear as appropriately as they do in fashion. The transformation of swimwear allows more people to enjoy the summer sun and the coolness of the pool, and embrace the beauty of nature and health. (Source: Beijing Daily Author: Zhang Pinqiu)

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