The hottest swimwear trends from Australian Fashion Week 2021 – including the tankini

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Here’s what you’ll be wearing to the beach this summer: from velvet bikinis to the return of the TANKINI – these are the trends that are rocking the runway at Fashion Week 2021

  • Models stood out in striking swimwear during Australian Fashion Week
  • High-waisted briefs, velvet bikinis and 1970s bathing suits made for the biggest waves
  • Tankinis made a surprising return to multiple designer catwalks
  • The modest style of top and bottom has been out of fashion since the early 2000s

Models stood out in high-waisted briefs, velvet bikinis and 1970s-inspired bathing suits as they stormed the runway during Australian Fashion Week 2021.

But it was the surprising return of the ‘tankini’ that made the biggest impression at Sydney’s Carriageworks last week, with leading brands such as White Sands and Aqua Blu taking the infamous style center stage on their catwalks.

The modest version of a bikini, which traditionally featured a tank top that covers the midriff and matching bottoms, has been out of fashion since the early 2000s.

The current styles shown at AFW involve a top that is shorter with a halterneck neckline, or longer on the torso so that it falls just below the bottom of the ribs.

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Tankinis returned to the runway at Australian Fashion Week 2021; a model is pictured at the Aqua Blu swimwear show at Sydney’s Carriageworks on June 3

The White Sands catwalk shows a model in the brand's modern iteration of the tankini, featuring a cropped halterneck top

The White Sands catwalk shows a model in the brand’s modern take on the tankini, featuring a cropped halterneck top

The best swimwear trends from Australian Fashion Week 2021

* Tankinis

* Velvet bikinis

*70s inspired one-piece clothing

* Floral prints

* High-waisted briefs

Hot pink halterneck tankinis were featured on the White Sands show, while Aqua Blu opted for a more muted color palette for its take on the Y2K trend, reportedly invented by American swimwear designer Anne Cole in 1988.

Cole’s creation was quickly copied by other labels after women were unhappy with skimpy swimsuit silhouettes transmuted into the design, allowing them to swim and move freely without worrying about anything slipping out.

By the late 1990s, other designers, including Michael Kors, Isaac Mizrahi, and J. Crew, were offering stylish tankinis for bikini-rejecting women.

The style became so acceptable in the high fashion community that Gucci even released a crystal-covered tankini for $3,000.

Elsewhere at AFW, velvet was the fabric du jour for bikinis, while bright block colors were preferred for one-pieces.

Models paraded down the White Sands catwalk in 1970s turquoise and neon yellow bathing suits that may have been worn by Bond Girls or Hollywood bombs.

A model wears a 1970s-inspired turquoise swimsuit at the White Sands show at Sydney's Carriageworks on June 2, 2021

Bright block colors like neon yellow (pictured) dominated the White Sands catwalk

Models parade in 1970s-inspired swimsuits in turquoise (left) and neon yellow (right) during the White Sands show at Sydney’s Carriageworks on June 2, 2021

Later in the White Sands show, a model poses in a midnight blue velvet bikini

Later in the White Sands show, a model poses in a midnight blue velvet bikini

A model walks the runway in high-waisted briefs for Indii Swimwear during the Indigenous Fashion Projects Show at Carriageworks on June 3

Top model Samantha Hunt (nee Harris) hits the runway in a polka-dot swimsuit from Indii Swimwear

Models walk the runway in high-waisted briefs (left) and one-piece polka dot (right) for Indii Swimwear during the Indigenous Fashion Projects Show at Carriageworks on June 3

High-waisted briefs were also featured on many catwalks, including Indii Swimwear, which took part in the headline-making Indigenous Fashion Projects show on June 3.

Prior to 2021, Indigenous representation at AFW was rare, but this year at least 12 designers from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds showcased two group shows and one student showcase.

Top model Samantha Hunt (née Harris), 30, hit the runway for Indii Swimwear in a polka dot one-piece with ruffle sleeves after watching from the front row the previous day.

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