It’s interesting how such a small amount of fabric can garner so much attention. Some people love it for preventing panty lines, while others can’t stand the thought of wearing such a garment. Regardless if you wear it, understanding the origin of the thong is rather amusing.
The loincloth is believed to be one of the earliest forms of human clothing and is also thought to have been worn mostly or exclusively by men. Originating in the warmer climates of sub-Saharan Africa where clothing was first worn nearly 75,000 years ago, the loincloth was most likely developed to protect, support, or hide the male genitals. When archeologists uncovered King Tutankhamun—buried circa 1323 B.C.E.—they found more than a hundred loincloths in his tomb, among thousands of other objects.
Fundoshi is the traditional Japanese undergarment for adult males, made from a length of cotton which is often twisted to create a thong effect in the back. Before World War II, the fundoshi was the main form of underwear for Japanese adult males. The typically masculine Japanese idiom, “fundoshi o shimete kakaru,” (tighten your loincloth) means the same as the English phrase “roll up your sleeves.” A variation of the fundoshi, the mawashi is the uniform that the rikishi (or sumo wrestler) wears during training or in competition.
The jockstrap was created by Chicago sporting goods company Sharp & Smith in 1874. Many historians believe the first appearance of the garment that most-closely resembles the modern-day thong was introduced in the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City when mayor, Fiorello LaGuardia ordered nude dancers to cover themselves. The thong was invented to just barely do so.
Jacques Heim and Louis Réard, introduced the original bikini in1946 which featured a culotte with a thong back. Fashion designer Rudi Gernreich, who had in the mid-1960s created the first topless swimsuit, which he called the monokini, is credited with introducing the modern thong in 1974. Another reference states that thongs, also known as tangas, first hit the beaches of Brazil in 1977.
In the ‘90s the thong gained popularity in the States, not as swimwear, but as underwear mostly for women, though the garment still had a minor male customer base. Today, thongs occupy an exceptional portion of the undergarment industry. Whether you find them to be helpful or hideous, thongs most definitely have a history to them.