The Micro Bikini Trend, Explained: Everything to Know About the Barely-there Swimwear’s History, Creator and Iconic Runway Moments


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Dating back to the 1940s, bikinis are one of the most common forms of swimwear. From the skirtkini to the tankini, different two-piece styles have come and gone over the years, but micro bikinis have only increased in popularity since their inception in the ’70s.

Today, celebrities including Emily Ratajkowski, Kim Kardashian, Dua Lipa and Bella Hadid frequently flaunt the barely there swimsuit style. Labels like Chanel, GCDS and Dior have also gotten in on the trend, producing high-end versions of the micro bikini.

Here, learn more about the itsy-bitsy design taking fashion by storm.

What is a micro bikini?

Made with less fabric, micro bikinis show more skin than the typical bikini. Micro bikinis often feature thong-style bottoms and string straps intended to create less noticeable tan lines.

Who created the micro bikini?

The first bikini is a variation of the micro bikini. French fashion designers Jacques Heim and Louis Réard separately released their own versions of what is now known as the bikini in 1946. Pictured below, Réard’s “bikini” got its name from the Bikini Atoll, a nuclear test site near Guam.

Réard debuted the bikini at a poolside fashion show in Paris. Many models turned down the gig, but showgirl Micheline Bernardini proudly displayed the design. Its revealing cut included string straps, reminiscent of today’s micro bikinis.

Micheline Bernardini models one of the first modern bikinis in 1946.

Getty Images

The modern micro bikini originated in the ’70s. The decade of disco popularized casualwear, and as people became increasingly comfortable with showing skin, crop tops and short shorts caught on, as did smaller forms of swimwear.

The year 1974 saw the inception of the term “string bikini.” According to Fodor’s, string bikinis were invented when Brazilian model Rose di Primo had to craft her own bikini for a photo shoot using limited materials. It’s unclear where this urban legend came from, but it is likely that smaller bikinis originated in Brazil.

April 1975 75-1964a-002 (Photo by WATFORD/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images), micro bikinis, bikini and swimwear trends, swimsuit styles, brazilian thong g-string bikini

Model wearing a string bikini in 1975.

Mirrorpix via Getty Images

Iara Scudera, a Brazilian swimsuit boutique owner, was interviewed about the string bikini in 1974. “South American women really enjoy showing off their bodies,” she told The New York Times.

In the ’80s, teeny bikinis spawned entire industries, with Brazilian tanning and waxing becoming popular services.

What are some famous examples of micro bikinis?

Perhaps the most iconic example of a micro bikini is Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel design, which debuted on the runway as part of the label’s spring 1996 collection.

Models like Carla Bruni, Eva Herzigova, Stella Tennant and Kirsty Hume wore bikini tops bearing Chanel’s interlocking “C” logo. They came in different shapes and sizes from tiny triangles to pastie-sized circles and featured colors including black, yellow, pink and blue.

what is a micro bikini, swimwear trends, thong bikinis, Stella Tenant au défilé Chanel, Haute-Couture, collection Automne-Hiver 1995-96 à Paris en juillet 1995, France. (Photo by PAT/ARNAL/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Stella Tennant models a micro bikini from Chanel’s spring 1996 collection.

Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Chanel produced string bikinis as early as 1994, but Lagerfeld shrank those designs into micro bikinis for his spring 1996 collection. Dior and Fendi have since produced their own monogram string bikinis, with Kardashian spotted wearing the former in 2017.

A more modern example of the designer micro bikini is GCDS’ crochet two-pieces, which feature the faces of cartoon characters like Spongebob Squarepants, Hello Kitty and the Care Bears. Dua Lipa donned GCDS’ knit micro bikinis in 2021 and 2023, respectively.

Runway GCDS Women's SS 2020.photographed in Milan on 21 september 2019 (Photo by Aitor Rosas Sune/WWD/Penske Media via Getty Images)

GCDS’ spring 2020 collection.

Penske Media via Getty Images

Where can you get a micro bikini?

Micro bikinis have become increasingly popular, and many brands, both affordable and high-end, now produce them. Retailers may not necessarily label certain suits as micro or string bikinis because the style is so ubiquitous, but you can always tell one apart by its revealing cut.

Skims, Frankies Bikinis and Triangl produce micro bikinis at mid-range prices, while the aforementioned high-fashion labels charge a pretty penny for their designs.

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