Are the famous Brazilian "Tangas" a German invention?

Curiosities at the presentation of the director in the new BikiniARTmuseum

Curious and never thematized. At the presentation of the new director of the BikiniARTmuseum, which opens in January, the initiators revealed something in the lively discussion that could only have been experienced in the museum. A German was significantly involved in the initiative that the women today in South America and not only under the sugar loaf wear this variety of spectacular, small bikinis. The term "Tanga", which is commonly used in Western countries, is also unknown in Brazil and is part of the unusual story whose stars are the saucy Brazilian Rose di Primo and the German photographer Michael Friedel.

The art historian and desired candidate Reinhold Weinmann will be the new director of the world's first swimwear museum, the "BikiniARTMuseum", which will open on January 4, 2020 in the "capital of swimwear" Bad Rappenau, directly on the international traffic hub of the A6 motorway. The presentation of the new museum director was followed by a lecture in the crowded conference room of the Best Western Hotel by Dr. Viola Hofmann, scientific assistant at the Seminar for Cultural Anthropology of Textiles at the Technical University of Dortmund. With "The bikini. Small costume - big conflicts" she took up the discourse about the polarizing bikini and triggered a lively and intensive discussion with the expert audience.

Rose di Primo in mini bikini as breathtaking cover in Stern magazine was the gamechanger for the swimwear at Copacabana

The inquiring audience drew from the initiators of the museum a super story with hitherto unknown connections, which were actually only to be discovered in the museum. On the beaches of Rio, the girls wear the world-famous Brazilian thong. Only in Brazil itself almost nobody knows the "Tanga" as a term for the extremely tight bikini pants cuts. How come? The story uncovered the BikiniARTmuseum during its research and tracked various sources. Copacabana/Ipanema 1974, spending his free time on the beach was just "IN". They wore very conservative swimwear, which was due to the moral concepts of the authorities and society. Not so the then 17-year-old, beautiful Rose di Primo and her friends: They stood out because of their extremely short bikinis, which only showed fabric in the most important places and were otherwise connected with ribbons. The breathtaking eye-catcher quickly developed into a public nuisance. But Rose and her girlfriends didn't let each other put them off.

At that time the German photographer and reporter Michael Friedel appeared in Rio. He asked his friend Justino Martins, editor of the well-known magazine "Manchete", if there was anything special to photograph. Justino told him about the said group of girls who talked about Rio. Michael tracked down Rose and her friends and took great photos. Justino contributed the name: "Tanga", an indigo word for loincloth, because the tight panties reminded him of what the natives of Brazil wore. Back in Germany the Stern soon had the title "Scharfes aus Rio" and Rose di Primo on the cover. The "Tanga-Bikini from Rio" was introduced. It didn't take long and other countries like Italy and the USA followed suit. "So all walk around on the beach in Rio", was the tenor, the headlines that did not correspond at all to the truth.

That made me curious. Enquiries from all over the world reached the metropolis at the sugar loaf. The scandalous product quickly became a figurehead. "BlueMan", a Brazilian swimwear company that was aspiring at that time, recognized the opportunity and started to produce "Lazinhos" in series. Lazinhos translates "ribbon", is in Brazil until today the name of this new type of mini bikinis, which are held together only by small ribbons. And it was a great success, the Lazinhos were sold like hot cakes. Today the "strings" are the trademark of the Brazilian beauties. Once he gets going, the Brazilian develops great creativity. The Lacinho was followed by the "Asa Delta" (with raised hips) and the spectacular "Fio Dental", which is only worn in South America and which covers almost nothing on the back. Another phenomenon is the fact that the female Cariocas, so called the original inhabitants of Rio, wear the floss bikini regardless of figure and age. What distinguishes Copacabana and Ipanema from other world-famous beaches is the pride and unbelievable self-confidence of the women in their favourite swimsuit.  


The trigger for the world-famous Brazilian swimwear was a German photographer and an article in the German magazine Stern. The word "Tanga" is a clever invention of the Friedel Crew, due to the situation, and is de facto unknown in Brazil. There the today much admired girls and women wear "Lacinho", "Asa Delta" or "Fio Dental".