Bye-bye bikini, meet the monokini

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Bye-bye bikini, meet the monokini


A one-piece swimsuit by DKNY that was shown during the 2013 spring and summer collection. Provided by each company

Most women have at least one or two swimsuits, but they are always tempted to buy a new one when a new lineup hits the shop windows.

Take Lee Ji-yeon, for example; the 30-year-old was one of several women recently seen searching for a new swimsuit in the basement of the Hyundai Department Store’s Trade Center branch, located in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul.

“I bought a bikini last year but I’m planning to buy a new one because my bikini from last season already seems out of style,” said Lee.

Since swimsuits are seasonal products, they are probably one of the most vulnerable items to fashion trends and many women are willing to purchase a new swimsuit every summer.

“Swimsuits are easily affected by trends,” said famed fashion stylist Lee Yoon-ki, who runs the fashion consulting company Intrend. “In addition, there is a tendency for people to be willing to buy a new one each season as they plan for holidays.

“If you want me to define this season’s trend, I would say it is retro chic,” added Lee, “with a lot of monokinis: vintage one-piece swimsuits which remind people of pin-up girls, ruling display windows and racks.”

Another stylist Han Hye-yeon said swimsuits have become much bolder compared to the previous season. “Many changes were added to this season’s swimsuits in terms of colors, patterns and even shapes,” said Han.

Monokini: From high-end fashion to the mainstream

The biggest change for this season is probably the rise of the monokini, which is technically a one-piece swimsuit that is more revealing than the classic one-piece. They are normally designed with large cut-outs on the sides and the top and bottom parts are linked with thin strings.


Swimsuits from left: ①Monokini from H&M ②Cut-out one-piece swimsuit from Forever 21 ③Retro style of bra top and high-waist bottom from Topshop ④Bustier swimsuit from Tory Burch ⑤A one-piece swimsuit inspired by wetsuits from Lisa Marie Fernandez

In the past, monokinis were usually featured in magazine photo shoots being worn by willowy super models, but now they are coming out from many popular fast fashion brands.

These revealing swimsuits may feel too bold for ordinary women, but experts say monokinis combine the best of one-piece swimsuits and bikinis.

For example, for those with bellies or less-than-slim waistlines, experts say the monokini is a safer option than a bikini because monokinis cover bellies and create the appearance of a slimmer waistline, thanks to the monokini’s large cut-outs on the sides.

“Depending on the location of the cut-outs, people can cover up their weaknesses,” said Han.

One-piece swimsuits return in style

Another notable change for this season is the return of one-piece swimsuits, no longer considered just a dull option for moms. In fact, until last year it was hard to find a young woman wearing a one-piece swimsuit at beaches and water parks.

Now, however, a wide range of brands, including upscale brands like Chanel, Versace, and Missoni, and casual brands like DKNY and Tommy Hilfiger are all promoting one-piece swimsuits as featured items. Designs are inspired by the swimsuits that were worn by Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the 1950s and ’60s.

Local online shopping malls which produce bikinis of their own, such as Eva Junie and Style Nanda, have also jumped on the bandwagon and are selling one-piece swimsuits.

Many changes were added to the designs of bikinis this year, too, which are turning more retro. Until last year, the tankini (which consists of a tank top and bikini bottom) was all the rage, but this year the trend is exactly the opposite, with a shorter top and a bikini bottom that sits high on the waist.

Bold colors and patterns also prevail.

“Neon colors and retro patterns, such as drops and geometric designs, are in,” said Kim Hak-sul, an official at DEC International, which promotes a number of local fashion brands. “The width of shoulder straps has become a lot wider, too.”

Not only are women’s swimsuits growing bolder, but men’s are, too. Swim trunks have become a lot shorter and narrow-legged.

By Yoon Kyung-hee []
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