It's a bathing suit. It's a beach towel. It's a dress. It's a conundrum. It's an innovation. It’s ALL of the above. The Towelkini is a swimsuit and towel hybrid that just might be your new summer wardrobe essential. But the internet remains confounded by this oddly fascinating and kind of amazing fashion item.
Artist and conceptual designer Aria McManus created the multi-tasking Towelkini. She initially made the Towelkini for a private Miami art show back in 2014. It was not available for purchase at that time. She eventually turned the Towelkini into an Artist Edition item sold via Special Special, "which presents art, design, and books for everyday appreciation," in 2018.
The Towelkini is $199, available in one size, and is constructed of 100% cotton. The piece comes in both hot pink and gold, with trimmed slits for the head, arms, and legs.
According to the product description on Special Special, the site where the Towelkini is currently available for purchase, it was meant to make beach excursions easier. It "melds the two essentials for all things beach, no need to carry a cumbersome towel and an easy to lose swimsuit."
While wearing a bathing suit and carrying a separate towel to the beach or the pool might not seem like that much of a hassle to most people, the Towelkini offers further options. It can be worn while lying down on your back or your belly to sunbathe. It can be transformed into a cover-up. That's incredibly convenient when you are packing up your stuff but have your hands full, or can't be bothered with rolling up your towel and stuffing it into a tote.
The Towelkini also doubles as a summer frock that can easily be dressed up or down depending on what you wear it with. You can add strappy sandals, espadrilles, a belt, gobs of jewelry, or a simple pair of flip flops or slides.
However, the internet and the media had questions — lots of questions — about what sort of tan lines the Towelkini would leave you with when wearing it. Other folks were curious about whether or not you are lying directly on sand while soaking up the sun and wearing the Towelkini. There was also the confusion about how to effectively go for a swim when decked out in the Towelkini.
McManus has been taking all the online bewilderment over her invention with stride. She posted an Instagram clip of the media headlines and noted in the caption that the Towelkini is almost sold out. Bustle reached out to McManus for further comment. She responded via email, telling us, "I think the internet response has been terrific. It's been great to see how many people have gotten excited from the concept."
Ultimately, the Towelkini looks and act more like a beach towel than a swimsuit. If you like to experiment with new ways to wear your clothes, maybe this strange innovation is right for you.