The name for the bikini design was coined in 1946 by Parisian engineer Louis Rard, the designer of the bikini. He named the swimsuit after Bikini Atoll, where testing on the nuclear bomb was taking place. Fashion designer Jacques Heim, also from Paris, re-released a similar design earlier that same year, the Atome. Due to its controversial and revealing design, the bikini was slow to be adopted. In many countries it was banned from beaches and public places. While still considered risqu, the bikini gradually became a part of popular culture when film starsBrigitte Bardot, Raquel Welch, Ursula Andress and othersbegan wearing them on public beaches and in film.
The bikini design became common in most Western countries by the mid-1960s as beachwear, swimwear and underwear. By the late 20th century it had become common as sportswear in sports such as beach volleyball and bodybuilding. Variations of the term are used to describe stylistic variations for promotional purposes and industry classifications, including monokini, microkini, tankini, trikini, pubikini, and skirtini. A man's brief swimsuit may also be referred to as a bikini. Similarly, a variety of men's and women's underwear types are described as bikini underwear.
The bikini has gradually grown to gain wide acceptance in Western society. By the early 2000s, bikinis had become a US$811 million business annually, and boosted spin-off services such as bikini waxing and sun tanning.
While the two-piece swimsuit as a design existed in classical antiquity, the modern design first attracted public notice in Paris on July 5, 1946. French mechanical engineer Louis Rard introduced a design he named the "bikini", taking the name from the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, which was the colonial name the Germans gave to the atoll, transliterated from the Marshallese name for the island, Pikinni. Four days earlier, the United States had initiated its first peace-time nuclear weapons test at Bikini Atoll as part of Operation Crossroads. Rard hoped his swimsuit's revealing style would create an "explosive commercial and cultural reaction" similar to the explosion at Bikini Atoll.
By making an analogy with words like bilingual and bilateral containing the Latin prefix "bi-" (meaning "two" in Latin), the word bikini was first back-derived as consisting of two parts, [bi + kini] by Rudi Gernreich, who introduced the monokini in 1964. Later swimsuit designs like the tankini and trikini further cemented this derivation. Over time the "kini family" (as dubbed by author William Safire), including the "ini sisters" (as dubbed by designer Anne Cole), expanded into a variety of swimwear including the monokini (also known as a numokini or unikini), seekini, tankini, camikini, hikini (also hipkini), minikini, face-kini, burkini, and microkini. The Language Report, compiled by lexicographer Susie Dent and published by the Oxford University Press (OUP) in 2003, considers lexicographic inventions like bandeaukini and camkini, two variants of the tankini, important to observe. Although "bikini" was originally a registered trademark of Rard, it has since become genericized.
Variations of the term are used to describe stylistic variations for promotional purposes and industry classifications, including monokini, microkini, tankini, trikini, pubikini, bandeaukini and skirtini. A man's brief swimsuit may also be referred to as a bikini. Similarly, a variety of men's and women's underwear types are described as bikini underwear.