Who Invented Swimming Trunks

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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Swim trunks were invented by BVD, an underwear company, in collaboration with an Olympic swimmer named Johnny Weismuller. They designed the swim trunks to be more efficient and less heavy for swimming.

Old swimsuits were made to maintain modesty and not be sheer when wet. Before certain materials were invented that worked best for swim trunks, like nylon and spandex, bulky materials were used that were often inefficient.

The Olympic swimmer and the underwear company decided it was time for a change. Keep reading to learn more about old swimwear and the invention of modern swim trunks.

Man wearing black swimming trunk getting out of the pool - Who Invented Swimming Trunks?

When Were Swimming Trunks Invented?

Swimming trunks were invented in the mid-1930s. Before the modern swim trunk was developed in the mid-1930s, swimsuits worn by men tended to be one-pieces.

These old swimsuits covered the upper and lower body, much like one-piece swimsuits for women today.

These swimsuits were meant to preserve modesty and cover as much as possible. Due to this, these swimsuits tended to be very bulky and heavy. They were challenging to swim in, and this resulted in the need for a more modern solution.


Man wearing black swimming trunk getting out of the pool - Who Invented Swimming Trunks?


Where Was it Invented?

Swim trunks were invented in the United States. A company called BVD, an underwear company from the United States, helped to invent them and distribute them throughout the world.

BVD received input and design help for the swim trunks from an Olympic swimmer named Johnny Weismuller. With his input and promotion, swim trunks became popular very quickly.

However, it took time for them to catch on in the United States due to modesty laws around swimming, even for men. Men were still not allowed to swim shirtless in public, but the invention of swim trunks created a movement that eventually helped repeal those laws.


What was the First Swimming Trunk Made of?

The first swimming trunks were made of a new rubberized thread called lycra. Before the invention of lycra, swimsuits were made of very bulky materials.

These materials could include knitted wool, canvas, or cotton. The problem with many of these materials is that they absorb too much water, weighing down swimmers.

So, when swim trunks were being invented, the invention of this new thread was taken into account with their design. Nylon was also being used in clothing starting around this time, so it was put into the new design of swim trunks as well.


What is the Origin of Swimming Trunks?

The origin of swimming trunks comes from the need for more modernized swimwear. Before this, as mentioned, swimsuits for men were required to cover the entirety of the torso. They were also often made of bulky and heavy materials.

The bulky materials were meant to obscure the shape of the body, but, as a result, these swimsuits were often difficult to swim in. With the invention of new materials, the need for these bulky ones began to fade as lycra and nylon were implemented.

These tighter swimsuits opened the door for swim trunks rather than just one-pieces. Swim trunks were meant to help with ease of use and faster swimming capabilities as the old swimsuits became outdated and ineffective.


What are Swim Trunks Called?

Swim trunks are often called a variety of terms such as bathing suit, swimwear, or swimsuit. However, the term swim trunks are meant to be used in the plural only, so other terms are often more popular.

Terms like bathing suit or swimsuit are the most common in the United States, referring to how swimwear used to be a full piece or ‘suit’ back when they were first in use. In the United Kingdom, they call it swimming costumes.

Each section of the world calls different swimwear things based on the area. Swim trunks are a very common term, however.


Final Thoughts on Who Invented Swimming Trunks

Swim trunks were invented with new materials and new ideas in mind. Being fully covered and modest with bulky materials was just not working anymore. It was inefficient and difficult for anyone who wanted to swim, let alone professionals.

The invention of swim trunks came out of necessity. It took a lot of time for it to catch on as ideas of modesty clung to our culture. With these new swim trunks, a movement surrounding modesty began.

Thanks to this invention, the ideas of modesty and swimwear have fundamentally changed. It started with men’s swimwear and the ability to be shirtless legally. But, these ideas eventually drifted over into women’s swimwear, changing it as we know it.