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Latest Swimwear Can Also Be Worn around Town (August 3, 2006)

(Left) This combination can be worn around town; (right) a bikini with mini-skirt.
(c) San-ai Co., Ltd. Photo by Hirofumi Yamasaki, model Yumi Sugimoto (2006 San-ai Swimwear Image Girl)
With beach season approaching, summer clothing has taken over the store shelves. Department stores and boutiques have dedicated entire sections to swimwear, and the swimsuit retail wars are heating up. The predominant theme of this year's swimwear is bikini separates embellished with touches that reflect current fashion trends. Among the popular designs are cute suits in pinks and whites with ribbons at the chest and frills around the waistline or hip area; sexy tie-back triangle-top numbers in lame or leopard-print fabric; nautical-print suits with border trim; and crocheted suits with a handmade look.

Swimwear Takes to the Streets
A growing number of fashion labels are diving into the swimwear market. Alba Rosa, which specializes in Hawaiian resort styles, offers tropical print bikinis for ¥17,600 (about $153 at ¥115 to the dollar). Cecil McBee, a brand popular among the "gals" of Shibuya, is making waves with a frilly confection that comes with a miniskirt; the set retails for ¥15,750 ($137). And ever-sporty Tommy Girl offers a logo swimsuit with Bermuda short bottoms for ¥16,800 ($146).

This year's swimwear not only incorporates the latest fashion trends but also features a variety of styles that can be layered with street clothing for everyday wear. "Tankinis," (bikinis with tank tops) and "camikinis" (bikinis with camisoles), are prime examples. Also popular are bikinis with miniskirts, Bermuda shorts, or pareus. Style-conscious women mix and match these coordinates to suit their mood and the occasion, just as they do with regular clothing.

(Left) Ribbon gives a feminine look; (right) lavish frills for a grown-up look.
(c) San-ai Co., Ltd. Photo by Hirofumi Yamasaki, model Yumi Sugimoto (2006 San-ai Swimwear Image Girl)

It is noticeable that this year swimsuit separates are increasingly being worn as street clothing. The use of denim, linen, cotton knits, lace, and other such fabrics makes today's swimsuits indistinguishable from everyday garments and lends itself to creative combinations: bikini tops layered over tank tops or t-shirts; short-sleeved shirts draped over bikini tops; unbuttoned short-sleeved shirts tied at the front to accentuate the bust. This creativity also extends to bottom coordinates. Some women are wearing jeans or shorts over their swimsuit bottoms but leaving the outer garment slightly unzipped to reveal a peek at the under-layer.

With swimsuits looking more and more like everyday clothing and the market clamoring for street clothing that looks more and more like resort wear, the boundaries between swimsuits and everyday clothes are becoming blurred.

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