This week, InStyle is diving into the changing look, complicated impact, and undeniable power of summer’s uniform: the swimsuit.
If you go to J.Crew’s e-commerce site and thumb through their swim section, you may land on the Women’s 1989 Scoopback One-Piece Swimsuit. As of publishing date, unless you’re a size 10 or 16, if you like this suit, you’re out of luck. It’s sold out.
That’s because the 1989 Scoopback One-Piece is the brand’s most successful style.
Twenty-nine years ago, in 1989, J.Crew launched swimwear with a pretty simple concept: Swimwear should be fun. There should be no limit to mixing colors, patterns, or silhouettes. In essence, the brand wanted to do away with being forced to buy pieces you’re not absolutely in love with. That’s where the idea of separates came in. And that’s why they wanted to give so many options.
In 1989, when swim landed the glossy pages of the much beloved J.Crew catalog, customers were met with images of active, happy, confident women. And while size diversity didn’t hit the J.Crew catalog swim section until the early ’00s, there definitely was a sense of inclusion in the campaigns. Check out some of the original swim campaigns. It’s shocking how relevant the photos are to today’s trends.
And today, nearly 30 years later, consumers are still obsessed with this suit.
While a lot of swim trends have come and gone since then (I’m not sure the designers at J.Crew could have imagined all the work that goes into putting on some of those strange strappy numbers), the fact remains that consumers want one thing when it comes to swimwear: something that fits really well.
While it’s great to hear from “experts” (ahem, us) regarding why we think this bathing suit is the tops, it’s more fun to go straight to the women who are actually buying it:
“This is the perfect swimsuit for a full figured woman over 50,” writes “redhead” from California in J.Crew’s comment section. “Covers in all the right places and still sexy with the high cut legs and open back…[It] lets the women shine and not the suit!”
Related article: You can now buy lingerie made from J.Crew t-shirts
“It is not easy to find a good one-piece swimsuit these days, particularly if one wears small size like me,” writes “Jackie” from West Harford, CT. “I am 5′-2″, 115-117lbs. Size 2 fits me perfectly. This swimsuit is really done well: the fabric is not too thin nor too thick. I love, love the scoop back as well as the shelf bra. I’ve got this swimsuit last year in navy, this year I’ve got it in charcoal gray and black. Unfortunately, for my skin tone, neither Belvedere Red nor Neon Papaya worked, otherwise I would’ve had this great swimsuit in 5 colors!”
Spend a few minutes reading the comments section on this page. It will feel like a warm hug of body positivity and shopping happiness.
“We continue to introduce new and trend-worthy styles but recognize the value in bringing back favorites from the past,” The J.Crew design team told InStyle.com.
So, yes, they’ll engage in collaborations (most recently with Sarah Zellweger of SZ Blockprints) to create exclusive styles, or add subtle details which allow customers to keep up with the latest swim trends, but the protocol for the J.Crew design team is clear: Make suits that fit really, really well. Leave the bells and whistles to the other brands.
J.Crew’s heritage swim collection is currently available in stores and online. The 1989 one-piece is currently sold in 10 colorways, the reversible bandeau in two colorways, and the 1989 bikini in five colorways.