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History of the thong

While the thong has been popular among exotic dancers for awhile here, fashion historians say the thong (which has been wildly popular for decades in Brazil) was slow to catch on in the U.S.

"South Americans have had the thong swimsuits for years and that is what drove men insane there. The tourists would come and buy and wear it down there because they couldn't wear them in the U.S.", says Regina Little, a 10-year garment and fashion industry marketer.

Gina Cooper, Editor-in-Chief of on-line fashion magazine Fashion Finds, agrees that "Brazilians definitely took thongs to swimwear", but pointed out that the thong didn't start there. Ironically, the style that many love so much on women may have actually originated on men, Cooper says.

"Thinking back to Ancient art and cultures, having the shape of most of the buttocks being revealed probably originated with men's athleticism," and the thong-like items were worn for "ease and comfort."

In fact, Cooper says, today's jock strap is essentially the "same concept with certain embellishments."

Some fashion historians trace the thongs first public U.S. appearance to the 1939 World's Fair when New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia mandated that the city's nude dancers cover themselves. And fashion designer Rudi Gernreich has been credited with introducing the first thong bikini in 1974.

white string bikini
In the early 80's, Frederick's of Hollywood began selling the panties in its catalogs as did then lingerie newcomer Victoria's Secret.

Last year, The Wall Street Journal reported that "Thongs are the fastest growing segment of the $2 billion-a-year women's panty business". Companies, such as Victoria's Secret, Frederick's of Hollywood, Lane Bryant and even discount stores, such as Target and Wal-Mart credited thongs for their jump in sales then.

"The thong has been in the U.S. marketplace for a good 10 years. What happened with thongs was that there was the ability to give a smooth and rounded finish to the butt and that is was started the craze", says Little.

Shelly Stokes, a 27-year-old Connecticut native, says: "I started about five years ago after college mainly for the exterior look (no panty lines) it really had nothing to do with being with sexy". Although, she admits, "Men definitely find them sexier".

But don't expect her to sport her T-backs out of her bedroom and onto the beach any time soon. "Hell no. I'll never do it", says Stokes. "A few people will, but Americans are too pure and prudish for it to become mainstream".

Little agrees that thongs will primarily remain "a behind-closed-doors craze" here, but "If you have kept in shape and can appreciate someone looking from a distance, then it is going to be a thong, thong, thong summer."
  sheer swimsuit see through swimwear

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