Origin of Thong Underwear: Who Invented It & Why?

Origin of Thong Underwear: Who Invented It & Why?

Thong underwear remains to be one of the most iconic — and intimidating —rights of passage out there.

Widely recognized as a symbol of sexual coming-of-age, this style of underwear (more explicitly what kind of person rocks it) has always been a major point of cultural scrutiny.

If you’re a first time buyer with loads of questions regarding thong underwear, fear not: we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know.

Who invented thong underwear?

Austrian-born American fashion designer Rudolf “Rudi” Gernreich is credited for the invention of the thong as we know it today. Gernreich was a bonafide industry pioneer, known for pushing the envelope both on and off the runway.

His innovative approach to design hit genius level in 1974, when the booty was under attack via California legislation outlawing nude sunbathing.

Gernreich had the perfect solution: the thong swimsuit, a cheeky stylistic approach that provided coverage and that birthday suit-feel.

A timeline of thong underwear

200 BC: Enter the fundoshi, a traditional Japanese undergarment favored by sumo wrestlers and divers alike for its aero-dynamic fit.

1939: Flash forward a couple (thousand) years, where functionality was finally ditched in favor of aeshteic. Then-mayor of NYC, Fiorello LaGuardia, ordered nude dancers to cover up during the World’s Fair based in none other than the Big Apple.

1974: The thong makes its official debut with Rudi Gernniech’s invention of the thong swimsuit. A year later this style was being sold as underwear across America!

1990s: Thong underwear hits the mainstream, marketed widely as a practical undergarment to pair with slim-fit jeans to best avoid visible panty lines.

1995: Victoria’s Secret holds its first public runway show, led by models Stephanie Seymour and Rebecca Romihn, igniting a consumer thong frenzy.

2002: Over 120 million pairs of thong underwear were sold in the US alone, a 200% increase in domestic units sold from 1998.

2010: Various retailers report a major decline in thong sales, citing styles such as the boy short as the new hot commodity in the realm of underwear.

2016: Vogue magazine declares “the thong is back!” You already knew a style this versatile was just bound to make a comeback.

2019: Parade enters the underwear scene with a mission of bringing diversity, inclusivity, and fun back into the market. The Thong quickly becomes our #1 best-selling underwear and for good reason.

Different types of thong underwear

Low Rise Thong underwear

Allowing you to wear it under anything (even leggings), low-rise thongs were introduced specifically for wear with low-rise pants as they sit quite low on your hips..

Mid Rise Thong underwear

One of the most common styles, the mid-rise sits perfectly at the waist-level. This hip-hugging fit is so comfy you’ll forget you’re even wearing it.

High Rise Thong underwear

As the name suggests, this style thong is cut high on the leg and sits just above the waist-level, featuring a more held-in feeling similar to that of a boyshort.

High Cut Thong underwear

Sexy yet totally functional, the high cut thong features the same fit as the high rise thong but has thinner waistbands for less overall coverage but more hip accentuation.

G-String Thong underwear

Designed for the most minimal fit, the ultra-cheeky G-string has an elastic band that bridges the triangular patch of cloth covering your vaginal area to the waistband at the rear end.

What's the best fabric for thong underwear?

Cotton is generally considered to be the best overall fabric for thong underwear because of its large scope of benefits, ranging from comfortability to vaginal health.

This naturally hypoallergenic fabric is both breathable and absorbent (helps to prevent yeast infections) while also providing an effortlessly-soft barrier between your skin and your clothing.

While it's hard to compete with the classic, both nylon and spandex have their advantages.

Nylon is a great silk-substitute, imitating that smooth, almost naked feel. Along with being fast-drying, this lightweight fabric is virtually wrinkle-free, making it the perfect go-to for your tighter clothing pieces.

Due to its incredible stretch and ability to mold to the wearer’s skin, spandex is a great fabric alternative for those desiring a more held in feeling. If you’re more prone to weight fluctuation, kiss the monthly underwear-ditching goodbye

Parade underwear is made from recycled materials & fabrics: cotton lining & mesh for breathability, nylon for a silky feel and spandex for comfortable stretch.

We offer three fabric platforms across our underwear collection:

  1. Universal: No visible panty lines (even under leggings), this seamless underwear feels like you're wearing nothing. Made from recycled fabric with an organic cotton lining

  2. Silky Mesh: Luxurious superfine silky mesh underwear, with a breathable cotton liner, lightweight & buttery feel with 360 degree stretch

  3. Re:Play: Ultra-soft underwear for everyday wear. Made from recycled super-fine fabric, a breathable cotton liner, lightweight & cool touch with 360 degree stretch