This article originally appeared on VICE US.
Over the past few years, thongs have slowly been creeping back into view. Most recently, Bella Hadid strutted down the runway of Versace's spring 2020 show in low-rise sparkly black pants with the sides of her gold embellished underwear pulled strategically into view. Shortly after, designer Heron Preston, gave the thong a more relaxed look by dressing a model in sagging pants with her stringy undergarment full exposed.
Of course, this is not the first time the visible thong trend has come back around. In recent years women have been openly exposing their undergarments, mostly in the form of lace bra tops and sexy high-rise bodysuits that expose the hip bones. Interestingly, now visible thongs are on the rise (literally) following a new report that young women are actually embracing granny panties. Still, thongs have been around in one form or another since ancient times, but historically they were worn by men. Burlesque dancers started wearing G-strings in the late 30s, following a government mandate that required them to cover up during the World's Fair, but it wasn’t until the 70s, when designer Rudy Genreich introduced the thong bikini, that they became more mainstream — at least on the beach.
"For many years the thong had sort of a sleazy reputation," explained Kristina Haugland, the Le Vine associate curator of costume and textiles at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. "It was considered quite risque and not something that most women turned to. By the late 80s they were becoming more popular, when Hanky Panky came out with its version, which was more comfortable."
Anyone alive in the early aughts knows that thongs had a major moment at the beginning of the new millennium. In 1999, The Wall Street Journal declared that the thong had “managed to win over the mainstream,” moving from the racks of sex shops like Frederick's of Hollywood to the luxury shelves of Saks Fifth Avenue. Tom Ford took the look one step further when he made the straps of his models' thongs visible on the runway for his spring 1998 collection for Gucci.
The tiny panties were no longer about hiding your underwear, but showing them off. Everyone from Christina Aguilera to Gillian Anderson, were pairing their low-rise pants and dresses with high-rise G-strings.
“I have Victoria’s Secret catalogues from 2003 and so fourth that talk about thongs as fashion’s newest accessory, [showing them] with jewels on the back" said Haugland. "Some people saw the trend as an attempt, especially from [teen] girls, to be sexually alluring, but some people just wore it because it was fashion."
Like most trends though, it wasn’t long before people moved on. In 2004, Adam Lippes, founder of the lingerie line Adam + Eve told The New York Times that women had developed “thong fatigue.” "The thong got skinnier and skinnier, and women got tired of it," Lippes told the publication.
Still, every now and then, we see the thong peek out from a famous persons pants and wonder if the trend will take off once again. Last year, JLo stepped out in a pair of Natasha Zinko trousers with a plaid thong well above the waistline. In May, Hailey Bieber took to the pink carpet at the Met Gala in a baby pink Alexander Wang dress with a matching encrusted thong. Now, if the spring 2020 shows are any indication, designers are definitely trying to make the visible thong happen again, along with other 2000s trends we’d rather leave in the past.