It was a crisp Milan afternoon in February 2022 when the wardrobe of the fashion glitterati was rewritten for the year ahead—one specific part of it, that is.
Thundering down the Prada runway was one of the wardrobe’s greatest mainstays, an affordable silhouette many have picked up in Target or Sportsgirl and worn a hundred different ways over the years—but this time, it had the designer kiss of approval: The tank top’s renaissance had begun.
Designers Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons dedicated their show to history: “The history of women, the history of people, not the history of fashion,” Prada told press in the aftermath.
The rest, as they say, was 2022’s history.
“The strongest case for the white tank came from Prada,” says marie claire‘s fashion editor Naomi Smith, who incorporated the style into the vibrant, seaside Fiji photoshoot for our September issue.
“It was worked into nearly every look in the show, with the logo placed front and centre with perfect nineties throwback vibes, layered under or over sheer slip dresses or suit jackets.
“Then, when the tank popped up at Bottega Veneta and then Loewe, it was clear the white cotton tank was going to be the most sought after status piece for the season.”
And indeed, it was. Cropping up everywhere from street style pages to celebrities at prestigious events, it seems that the famous upside-down triangle of Prada placed front and centre of the AUD $1,340 tank top is going no where.
Iris Law layered the tank under a sheer Prada dress at the Pistol premiere in London in May. Not long after, actor Julia Ducournau attended the 75th Cannes Film Festival wearing a sequinned Prada dress worn with the famous white tank beneath.
As Prada herself puts it, the tank is part of the people’s history—not fashion’s. When you strip any wardrobe back to its core, the tank top has always prevailed.
Its origins date back to the early 1900s (or at least its name does) when the style mirrored that of bathing suits. Back then a swimming pool was commonly referred to as a swimming tank, and thus swimsuits were referred to as tank suits.
The name never stuck with swimwear, but it did for clothing. By the 1970s, the tank had transitioned into everyday streetwear, often paired with flared trousers and mini skirts.
As the 90s rolled around, the tank top was everywhere. Sporty Spice of the Spice Girls was a frequent wearer of the style (meaning a million young fans and followers begged their parents to purchase one for them), and Gwen Stefani’s personal brand practically screamed tank top and red lipstick.
The style had also become somewhat of a cultural symbol in the queer community, especially because the design is both gender-neutral and flattering.
Speaking to the New York Times in August 2022, nonbinary musician King Princess said they “feel so powerful” in a tank top. “Because of my own journey with my gender. Like, a tank top with a sports bra underneath makes me feel strong and powerful. It’s me at my truest nonbinary form.”
As Smith explains, the renaissance of the tank has largely been spearheaded by Prada—though its designer counterparts are all highly sought after in 2022.
Whether it’s ribbed, sheer, cropped or in numerous colourways, the designer tank is undoubtedly here to stay—whether by its constant undercurrent in pop culture, or outright showing off on the designer’s runways. Fashion’s fade, but the humble tank top is eternal.
Shop our favourite designer tanks below.
Prada ribbed knit jersey tank top, $1395 at Prada.
Loewe anagram tank top in cotton, $515 at Loewe.
Celine Athletic knit zipped tank top, $1150 at 24s.
Acne Studios ribbed tank top, $300 at FarFetch.