From the seaside shores of antiquity to modern beaches, men's swimwear has taken a fascinating journey through fashion history. This article delves into the waters of the evolution of men's swimwear, exploring the humble origins of Greco-Roman baths, the defining trends of each era, cultural influences and innovative, sustainable materials.
Ancient roots: Greco-Roman baths and first swimsuits
The history of men's swimwear dates back to the Greco-Roman baths of Antiquity. These public bathing establishments played a vital role in Greek and Roman societies, providing a space for relaxation and sociability. Men there wore primitive versions of swimsuits, called "subligacula" or "perizoma", which were often pieces of cloth tied around the waist. Although modest, these early swimsuits were an important step toward creating specific clothing for swimming.
Modest origins and the advent of “caravans”
In the early 20th century, a modest attitude towards the male body predominated, leading to swimsuits with loose fits and heavy materials. Designs like the "Victorian Full Suit" were designed to hide as much skin as possible, but they fell far short of the ergonomics needed for comfortable swimming.
The transitional years and the rise of swimming
During the 1920s and 1930s, the world began to embrace a sense of freedom after the horrors of World War I. Men's swimwear followed this trend with the appearance of slimmer cuts and lighter materials. Iconic models such as “Retro Swim Shorts” have appeared, combining comfort and style.
As society has changed and swimming as an exercise has grown in popularity, men's swimwear has had to adapt. In the early 20th century, full swimsuits gave way to more functional designs, marking the beginning of the separation between leisure and swimming swimwear. Trunks, characterized by their snug fit and comfort, became popular in the 1920s, providing greater freedom of movement in the water.
The audacity of the 50s and the famous “Tarzan briefs”
The 1950s saw the emergence of a bolder attitude towards beach fashion. Hollywood icons like James Dean and Cary Grant popularized form-fitting swimsuits, featuring cropped shorts and a sportier aesthetic. However, modesty was still present, with conservative but better-fitting styles. “Tarzan briefs,” named after the famous jungle figure, were in vogue, featuring slim cuts and simple designs that marked a shift toward more form-fitting swimwear.
Revolution of the 60s and 70s
The decades of the 60s and 70s brought radical changes in fashion and society. The sexual liberation movement and counterculture ideals gave rise to more daring men's swimwear. “Minimalist Swimwear” became popular, reflecting the spirit of these changing times.
The 80s and 90s
The extravagance of the 80s was reflected in men's swimwear with bright colors, bold patterns and even more minimalist cuts. “Neon Swim Shorts” were all the rage, while the 90s saw a trend towards more casual and athletic styles, such as “Sporty Swim Briefs”.
The 21st century and beyond
The 21st century has brought a wide variety of men's swimwear styles. From “Stylish Long Swim Shorts” to “Fitted Boxer Trunks”, there are now options to suit every taste. Technical materials have also evolved, providing comfort, support and performance for aquatic activities. At CALANQUE we use fabrics from recycled plastic waste, fashion can be environmentally friendly without sacrificing style!
From modest full wool swimsuits to today's bold, minimalist cuts, the history of men's swimwear bears witness to the evolution of mentalities and fashion through the ages. From the rigid norms of the past to today's variety and freedom of expression, men's swimwear continues to reflect the social and cultural changes of our ever-changing society. As we move into the future, it will be interesting to see how trends from the past will continue to influence men's swimwear in the future, incorporating elements of sustainability and innovation.