The Genteel
January 28, 2021


Artoo 2.0 swimsuit (left) and Gameboy swimsuit (right) by Black Milk Clothing. Source:
Tetris bathing suit swimwear
Tetris swimsuit by Black Milk Clothing.

A string bikini can only hide so much. The photographs for Beyoncé's H&M summer campaign, the "Beyoncé as Mrs. Carter in H&M" swimwear collection, were recently spotted in the Dutch edition of Elle magazine revealing an impossibly fit frame sporting a series of flirty, brightly coloured bikinis.

The skimpy frocks are exactly what you'd expect from a swimwear line: bold colours, pattern blocking and geometric shapes - solid, go-to choices for those looking to turn heads this summer.

The accompanying television commercial shot by "Telephone" video director Jonas Åkerlund in the Bahamas, will feature "Standing On The Sun," a brand new single by the pop icon. The ads will officially debut next month in the UK and America, and they, like the collection itself, are inspired by nature's four elements - earth, fire, wind and water.

Swimwear collections presented during fashion week in Sao Paulo and Australia this season also sourced ideas for graphic prints from the natural world. Liana Thomaz of Agua De Coco used Brazil's rainforest as the blue print for her Spring 2014 collection, while models walking for We Are Handsome in Australia rocked pieces with desert landscapes and blown-up tiger prints.

Perhaps a grey Game Boy swimsuit is good fit; complete with a makeshift screen and strategically placed control buttons, the one-piece number is a coy homage to early video game adopters.

But for those willing to buck the trend, there exists another option. A type of swimwear that has become increasingly popular, but for all intents and purposes, is targeted at those who don't actually consider themselves a part of the in-crowd; individuals who are interested in making quirky statements and publicly embracing their dorkier alter-egos.

Take for example, the Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker light saber fight swimsuit by Black Milk Clothing. Licensed by Lucas Films, the label has created an entire Star Wars collection, dedicated to representing key figures from the series like the Artoo cap sleeve swimsuit. Swimwear pieces by Hot Topic proclaim allegiance to everything from Wonder Woman to the Power RangersRisqué cutouts like the Game of Thrones Wanderling Monokini by Siobhan Barrett can be worn topless or bandeau (should you opt for a more conservative look).

Images of iconic novelty passions like Tetris or Pac Man give ample room for geeky glamour at the beach. Perhaps a grey Game Boy swimsuit is good fit; complete with a makeshift screen and strategically placed control buttons, the one-piece number is a coy homage to early video game adopters. If you have an affinity for vinyl records, an indie line in Budapest offers suits with prints of DJ turntables, and audio equipment.

Gadgets aren't the only way to represent your dorkier side - a pirate-inspired one piece by Skye & Staghorn turns you into a bandit with morals. The childhood best friends behind the label used "Sea Sheppard" as graphic slogan, inadvertently protesting the destruction of marine wildlife. 

DC Comics Wonder Woman Monokini.

In embracing geeky chic swimwear women are given a way to accentuate something other than their bodies. It's as if a welcome mat has been extended, a niche market for consumers comfortable in celebrating seemingly trivial pursuits, or oddball habits that were likely to have been ridiculed in childhood.

Much like t-shirts, these swimsuits have the power to directly state an idea or start a conversation. And saying more without speaking at all is how great style sense is evoked. The audacity in using swimsuit material to highlight something more than just a particular reverence for, say, the colour turquoise, helps to define a new kind of beauty ideal.

Bikinis, no matter how intellectually stimulating the graphic print, require a brave willingness to let go. Pieces tricked out with hipster-esque images or geeky graphics (like an inverted x-ray of a rib cage), convey a light-hearted assertiveness, a cheeky, nonchalant attitude where the only thing that matters is how much fun you have. Beach parties or volleyball matches, this summer, may the force be with you.



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