Once all you needed for a beach holiday was a bikini, a towel and sunglasses. These days cover-ups are also de rigueur
Selling 40,000 kimonos a week is an impressive retail stat in anyone's book – but this is less about New Look picking an on-the-money trend, and more about beachwear emerging as a fully fledged category in fashion. All of these kimonos have been shifted since April, when people start shopping for their holiday and glossy magazines advocate buying clothes specifically designed for that purpose.
Retailers ranging from Asos to Net-a-Porter have dedicated beachwear pages on their websites. Once confined to a bikini, a towel and a pair of sunglasses, what we wear on the beach now includes a cover-up – such as these kimonos – along with surf-influenced rash shirts, board shorts, beach dresses and accessories such as espadrilles and raffia bags. Basically, a holiday is no longer time off from fashion – it's another occasion to dress up.
Kimonos are the latest beach cover-up shape to prove a winner – possibly because they have beach-to-bar glamour. New Look's often have pretty floral prints and an unstructured shape – the kind of clothing item that signifies a post-sun cocktail at the end of a day on the beach.
In the world of cover-ups, they follow kaftans, once a boho classic, now a Made in Chelsea favourite. The kimono's time at the pinnacle of packing lists is due to be limited too. The beach shirt – a longer line, loose button-up design currently championed by Topshop – is the alpha cover-up for late summer holidays, one about to eclipse the kimono. If beachwear is a fully fledged fashion category, it has the trend cycles to match.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010