NEW YORK, May 15 — After long dominating swimwear trends on the world’s beaches, the bikini could now be outshone by more modest designs, inspired by previous decades. Tankini, T-shirt and wetsuit styles, not to mention the swim skirt, look set to be the stars of summer of 2022, riding the wave of body positivity.

“Itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka-dot bikini” went the 1960s Brian Hyland classic, echoing the emancipation of women and their bodies in that groundbreaking decade. But it might be time to change the record as we head into this year’s summer season. Because, while these two little pieces of fabric are not destined to disappear anytime soon, they could this year be complemented by other swimsuit styles, many of them considerably less revealing, and some of them decidedly more glamorous, allowing the greatest possible number of people to feel good about themselves as they hit the beach.

Boosting self-esteem

The arrival of summer is usually filled with positive connotations, with one exception — two words — the dreaded summer body. With one eye on the scales and the other on the refrigerator, men and women — but especially women — are confronted with the critical gaze of a society that will not tolerate bulges on the beaches. Abs, glutes, squats and lunges are inevitably accompanied by one of those miracle diets that are unavoidable in the run-up to vacation season. If Kim Kardashian can do it, so can we! All in the aim of slipping effortlessly — and without sucking in our stomachs — into that little bikini we spotted months ago in the store window.

But it seems that times have changed and, in the age of body positivity, it’s no longer a question of giving in to all these constructs and conventions. Apparently, we’re all now fine with that little paunch, the cellulite, and even the stretch marks that were once the bane of our lives. No matter that the influencers bombard us with their suction cups, creams and magic powders that allow them to lose what the scalpel hasn’t managed to erase. The decision has been made, this year, the extra kilos are staying put... now what’s most important is finding a swimsuit that you feel good in and that will allow you to enjoy summer with ease and confidence.

Brands are looking at ways to address such an evolution — that of a diverse notion of beauty — with cuts, shapes and materials so that suits are adapted to all kinds of body types. And, the good news is that 2022 looks set to be the summer of change, with a wide spectrum of swimsuits now on offer and already finding their audience.

Swimwear for every body type

Now, it’s no longer about juggling with — or indeed choosing between — bikinis and one-piece swimsuits, which not all women feel comfortable in. From Rihanna to Lizzo to Kim Kardashian, several celebrities have paved the way for more inclusive lingerie and swimwear, in other words, collections that make not just one but many body types look and feel good. As a result, search interest in new swimsuit shapes has skyrocketed, while that for bikinis has dropped 13%, as revealed in the latest report from the global fashion search engine, Stylight.*

Sporty swimsuits and wetsuits, providing coverage and functionality, are among the most sought-after models this year, with a 247 per cent increase in clicks compared to last year. Also proving popular are one-piece swimsuits inspired by the ‘90s, with a neckline plunging so low that they can be worn over a T-shirt, as seen at the Chanel Spring-Summer 2022 fashion show. Clicks for these styles jumped 175 per cent on Stylight in one year.

And women also seem to have an eye out for pieces that allow them to feel comfortable without compromising on style, as with the recent uptick in interest for swim skirts (+163%). In the same spirit, the tankini — as covering as a one-piece swimsuit but with the advantages of a two-piece — is also gaining more and more followers as the summer season approaches (+107%). And since fashion now has something for everyone, cut-out swimsuits, often with suggestive cuts, are undoubtedly going to be all over the beaches this summer, with an increase of 740 per cent in clicks compared to last year.

Note that, in terms of materials, it is glamour that prevails, with a real craze for lurex, resulting in a boom in searches (+350%). So-called artisanal fashion is on the rise too, with growing interest in crochet swimwear (+95%) — a trend unanimously approved at Coachella, and one which has been winning over fashion fans since the pandemic brought about the trend for all things DIY. — ETX Studio

* The data in this report is based on analysis of search and purchase data from Stylight’s 160 million annual shoppers. The data was compared to the previous year’s data for the period March 1 to April 20, 2022.