A Brief History of Mens Designer Swimwear


Since the beginning of time, mens designer swimwear has gone on the veritable journey starting with non-existence to something that provided not just performance but also style and durability. Some 100 years ago, men’s swimwear was first developed to enable men to preserve their dignity and modesty in public. It is not too long ago that it was not socially acceptable for men to be bare chested. But once it did, their swimwear essentially turned into boxes and trunks with some material, pattern, and color modifications every once in awhile.

Mens Designer Swimwear in Ancient Times

The Romans absolutely loved to be. We know, however, that Roman men would be naked. Of course, this did vary from one culture to the next with some demanding men wear suitable garments, which in turn could be just a simple loincloth or something that covered virtually everything. The Japanese male fundoshi is a good example of a popular loincloth.

Mens Designer Swimwear in the 18th and 19th Century

Up until the middle of the 19th century, nude swimming was generally allowed. However, the Bath Corporation started to forbid male nude bathing in 1737 if they were over the age of 10. But 1860, the United Kingdom banned nude bathing completely, at which point the callecons, a type of drawers, became popular. While male swimwear has changed a lot in those days, one thing has remained almost constant, which is the square solid look that enhances masculinity.

During the 1880s, swimwear for men was quite a shabby type of undergarment but improvements were quickly made to it’s design. The very first ones were knitted wool swimsuits that did absorb far less water than a cotton garment. However, they did still absorb water very quickly and, when wet, the swimsuits could easily wait 9 pounds, which made it very difficult to swim and posed a significant risk of the swimwear actually falling off.

Mens Designer Swimwear in the Early 20th Century

By 1910, tank suits were the norm for male swimmers. These were dark in colour and would reach from the elbow to the knee. A more athletic look was developed by 1912 but the social norms still dictated that people should cover up and protect their modesty. Indeed, the Bathing Suit Regulation was published in this country in 1917 and provided significant details on what should be covered up.

After the 1910 decade, swimsuits for men started to change and develop much more rapidly. Different fabrics were developed and greater attention was paid to overall look and design by adding colors and patterns. Since then, increasingly weird and wonderful items have been developed, including the mankini and the c-string. Today, men can wear just about anything they want and swim in whatever they feel comfortable in although nude bathing is unlikely to ever make a comeback with exception of naturalist camps and beaches. That being said, who knows what designers will come up with next and how much or how little it will leave to the imagination?

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