The words “swimwear” and “Philippines” are the first things that will come to mind when you hear tropical paradise. Naturally, the country is filled with tantalizing swimming pools and inviting hot sands by the shore. The abundance of resorts and breathtaking beaches has allowed it to become a top summer destination in the world; the country has greatly benefited from this. Another area that’s thriving in the Philippines is the swimwear industry—it only makes sense in a country that has so much swimming places to offer and is literally surrounded by water. The success of swimwear in the Philippines can be attributed to its ability to add an even greater amount of summer vibes to its already impressive environment. Like everything else in the world, swimwear wasn’t always the globally popular apparel that it is today. Female swimwear, specifically, has gone through so many phases before it became strongly associated with women in beaches. Let’s go ahead and look into its humble beginnings.
History of Swimwear
Swimwear (just like any form of clothing in the Philippines) has a rich history—its roots date back to the days of classical antiquity, and it has gone through so many changes, not to mention that it has significantly impacted not only culture, but sports as well. Of course, the latter happened quite far down the road, but nevertheless, the history of swimwear is pretty interesting.
Classical Antiquity and Middle Ages
During the Greek and Roman ages, swimming or bathing was done naked. In these ages, bathhouses were known to be meeting places in which political ideas can be discussed. In other cultures, bathing was done with whatever undergarment that was typically worn on land, such as loincloths. In the 4th century, Roman murals were found depicting women wearing two-piece suits that covered the chest and the hip areas—surprisingly similar to the modern day bikini. There was, however, no evidence that they were used for swimming activities. Little is known about swimwear during the Middle Ages, other than that it was discouraged because people back then didn’t believe that it was necessary.
16th to 19th Century
Mineral spas around this time became popular because of their therapeutic health benefits, causing towns like Bath in England to grow into resort areas. Bathing was done nude until around 1670, after which women began wearing clothes. The swimwear during these times were long-sleeved smocks that occasionally came with weights attached to the hems to make sure that the fabric doesn’t suddenly rise when submerged under water, exposing the woman’s calves—which were considered scandalous. While these were able to serve the purpose of protecting the modesty of women, they were extremely cumbersome in the water and made the process of swimming or bathing much more difficult than it should have been. The 19th century saw changes in the design of women’s swimwear—in the first half of the century, the top became knee-length, while an ankle-length drawer was added as a bottom. The sleeves started to vanish during the second half and the bottom was shortened to the knees. The top became hip-length and swimsuits became more form fitting.
1910s to 1920s
Swimsuits underwent through multiple, drastic changes during the 1900s. Annette Kellerman, a swimmer from Australia, visited the United States in 1907 and performed a form of synchronized swimming. She was arrested at a beach in Boston because her arms, legs, and neck were visible in her swimsuit, which was considered indecent exposure. Kellerman had the suit changed to have long arms and legs, and a collar, while keeping it form-fitting. These one-piece swimming tights became the accepted swimwear for women in some parts of Europe by the end of the decade. Female swimming was introduced at the 1912 Summer Olympics, and competitors from 17 countries wore swimsuits similar to that of Kellerman. The form-fitting style of swimwear proved to be immensely popular, and it didn’t take long before swimwear became more revealing. Arms were exposed and the legs became mid-thigh, while the necklines receded to around the top of the bosom. It was also during this time that new fabrics were developed to create more comfortable swimwear. Swimsuits began to incorporate more decorative features in the 1920s. Rayon was a common material in the manufacturing of form-fitting swimsuits, but its durability proved to be a major concern when wet. Other materials include jersey and silk. Speedo introduced the racerback silk suit in 1928, whose primary purpose was competitive swimming and was optimized to fit the body shape.
1930s to 1980s
The necklines in swimsuits plunged at the back by the 1930s and the sleeves were completely removed. New clothing materials like latex and nylon were developed during this time and swimsuits became more and more form-fitting throughout the decade. The 1940s and 1950s saw swimwear become popular in glamour photography and beauty contests eventually required their contestants to wear them. In 1956, Speedo introduced nylon—the first company to do so. Two decades later, they would add elastane to their swimsuits, which improved their elasticity and durability. Apart from that, it also reduced water drag.
1990s to 2000s
Up until the 1990s, swimsuits were one-pieces—later in the decade, however, Anne Cole would come up with the concept of mix-and-match swimwear as well as the tankini. The tankini allowed the freedom of a bikini, but with the more modest coverage of a one-piece bathing suit. It took a significant part of the market. Recognized designers such as Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein joined the trend soon after.
Swimwear and Society
Swimsuits, particularly during its earlier stages, have always been subjected to criticisms. Despite making bathing incredibly difficult for women, swimwear had to be able to cover as many portions of the body as possible, because it would be socially unacceptable otherwise. The amount of visible skin on a woman dictated how respected she should be—it’s a mentality that runs in many people’s minds until today, albeit not as prevalent as before. Truly, swimwear has come a long way. Originally designed to conceal a woman’s body parts that were deemed vulgar if visible to males, it became a functional component in swimming competitions, and eventually, outfits that turned some famous women into immortal sex symbols. Women’s swimwear remains to be a controversial—and mysterious—issue until today. In the modern, social media-driven and liberal era we live in today, scantily clad women receive a lot of praise be it through Facebook shares and Instagram likes; whereas in the previous decades, they would have been gravely shamed. Swimwear provides some women a sense of empowerment. This is an undeniable truth that has been proven by women from both the previous and current generations: Marilyn Monroe, Farrah Fawcett, and Kate Upton, to name a few. At the same time, however, it can objectify them, especially in the eyes of some men. Unfortunately, wearing swimsuits have become synonymous with becoming sex objects from some people’s point of view. While swimwear in the Philippines and other countries is socially acceptable today, a large portion of the female population is still experiencing treatment similar to that of the women in the older times. This has caused many individuals to voice out their concerns regarding swimsuits, or revealing attire in general. No woman should be disrespected and shamed because they are wearing clothes that reveal certain parts of their bodies—but the truth is, regardless of what a woman wears, there will always be certain individuals with twisted mentalities that will treat them as nothing more than sex objects. Women aren’t at fault and shouldn’t have to make the adjustments to the standards other people wrongly set for them. No woman should have to worry about wearing a bikini to the beach or to go swimming out of fear that people around are going to see them as something they’re not.
Practical Uses of Swimwear
Swimwear may appear to be nothing more than a means to emphasize a woman’s body, but there’s more to it than that. There’s a reason why there are different swimsuits for beaches and for competitive swimming, and that is because they have functional capabilities.
One of the primary uses of swimwear is protection. Rash guards are specially designed for use in beaches—they provide protection against rashes caused by abrasion and sunburn. Rash guards are light and easy to move in, allowing for flexibility and protection during prolonged exposure to the sun. Rash guards aren’t just meant for swimming. They can be used for other watersports such as surfing and kayaking, and in non-water activities like sunbathing and beach sports as well.
Some swimsuits are specifically designed to be used during competitions. They don’t offer as much protection as rash guards, but they augment the skills of competitive swimmers. Usually made of spandex, these swimsuits are perfectly form-fitting and are often made of special low resistance fabrics which reduces the friction and drag in the water, thereby increasing the speed at which the athlete swims and the efficiency of their motions, even if it is barely noticeable.
Because swimsuits stick to the skin tightly, they can be uncomfortable to wear at times. However, there are swimsuits whose primary purpose is to keep the wearer comfortable. Such swimwear is usually composed of polyester and nylon and is used in swimming lessons or water aerobics. Additionally, they are able to keep the wearer relatively warm, so they could stay in the water for longer amounts of time without feeling too cold.
The Best Places to Swim in the Philippines
One of the reasons why there is a lot of available swimwear in the Philippine market is because the country boasts plenty of beautiful locations to swim in. From captivating beaches to elegant resorts with sizeable pools, the Philippines has it all.
Summer or not, Palawan is one of the top tourist destinations not just in the country, but in the whole world as well. Countless people have gone to Coron to swim and snorkel in its crystal clear waters that are rich in marine life. The beautiful surroundings and vast bodies of water will keep you coming back over and over again. Whether you’re planning to go scuba diving or relax by the shore, the hills and lakes in Coron are always there to give you the sense of peace and enjoyment you have always wanted.
Enchanted River, Surigao del Sur
The Enchanted River sure lives up to its namesake—known to be the clearest body of water in the entire country, it is estimated to be at least 200 feet deep. The best part about it is that it’s clear enough for you to see through its depths. It’s a favorite spot of many freedivers and is stunningly beautiful during both day and night.
The Oriental, Legazpi
Imagine yourself sitting by the pool, looking at the Albay Gulf, and the famed Mayon Volcano, also known as the perfect cone volcano, with a cool breeze. Perfect volcano and perfect moment? Yes, please! Just the pool itself is already amazing, so it isn’t hard to imagine how glorious it would be to dive in and rise up to such a magnificent view. Perfection!
Acuatico Beach Resort, Batangas
Who says that you can’t have a short vacation during the weekend? Stress at work and the summer heat make for a killer combo, but luckily, there’s Acuatico Beach Resort. Only a few hours from Metro Manila, Acuatico Beach Resort can turn an ordinary weekend into an unforgettable experience. With an infinity pool that connects you to the great ocean, you will literally be close to nature—as if you already weren’t feeling it.
Tutum Shop: Where You Could Get All Your Summer Needs
If you’re looking to keep up with the latest fashion trends or if you’re in need of the perfect shoes to complement your summer outfits, then look no further. Tutum Shop offers a wide range of shoes, bags, accessories, and sandals in the Philippines that will surely make you stand out wherever you go. Tutum Shop’s products go so well with the best swimwear in the Philippines, so you can rest assured that you’re going to turn a lot of heads on the beach. To see the items Tutum Shop has in store for you, all it takes is one click here.
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