The Evolution of Swimwear
Back when Sunspel was born in 1860, the concept of swimwear didn’t really exist. Instead, one would ‘bathe’ in one’s undergarments which were mostly heavy woollen one-pieces so uncomfortable the issues around weight, itch and fit after a quick dip can only be imagined through gritted teeth.
Not surprisingly swimwear did evolve. By the 1920’s, new fabrics and styles began to appear. Society however was extremely concerned about exposure to too much flesh and legislation maintained the discretion and privacy of the male body (in short, men could wear nothing too revealing).
Manufacturers responded by introducing extra detailing, such as a fly front or belt and buckle effects to make them appear more like outerwear and therefore less offensive to the gentry. Soon after though, soldiers and sailors were being photographed relaxing in their boxer shorts, inspiring manufacturers to make swim wear follow suit. Of course, the 1960s saw a new kind of attitude when it came to a gentleman’s sporting wardrobe captured in Connery’s iconic pose as 007 in those very small, very blue shorts. A million miles away from the 1920’s, by the 60s and 70s it was a case of the skimpier the better.
An Homage To Tailoring
Remaining true to our Sunspel heritage, when it came to our swim short, we focused on three design principles – comfort, fit and fabric. Having introduced the boxer short to the UK in 1947, Sunspel has form in making men’s under shorts. We took our knowledge about how to construct the perfect boxer and applied it to the design of our swim short, while also introducing some of the same styling notes found in 1950’s swimwear and seen here in ‘Surf bathing at Honolulu’ (image found in the Sunspel archive, dated 1923)
We also paid close attention to contemporary concerns and spent a long time perfecting exactly the right fabric and cut. It was vital our shorts felt just as fantastic out of the water as they did in.
We’ve worked extremely hard to give you a swim short that delivers the same smooth, confidence that befits a man of style in the modern age.