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Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issues - World's Most Famous Magazine Cover and Three Lessons Learned

Updated on March 25, 2016

What is world renown, creative, artistic and coveted by men (and many women) for over 50 years? Many will contend this article is just about skin and essentially it is but if you look at the creative genius, you will see a marketing machine that has forever changed the the sport industry. What is all of this about? But of course, the famous, annual swim suit edition of Sports Illustrated.

Photographed in some of the world's most exotic beaches in the Caribbean and beyond. Always starring an exceptional beauty. And always creative in its design. Not one of the covers is routine. Look at the artistic genius of the various suits. Same beautiful women, different bathing suits, different titles, different ....headlines....

I learned from a great writer here that we must be bold or go home so here is my bold statement - there is marketing genius in this annual publication.

Celebration of the Swim Suit Issue

Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Famous Swimsuit Issue
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Famous Swimsuit Issue | Source

Bare Chested Beauties On the 50th Cover

50th Anniversary Issue of the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Issue with three gorgeous girls with long hair and skimpy bikinis
50th Anniversary Issue of the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Issue with three gorgeous girls with long hair and skimpy bikinis

More Than Just Pretty Paint

Minnie Driver once said, who wants to be just pretty paint? So too, if you look closely at the world's most famous magazine issue, you will see there is much more than pretty paint. From the shores of the world's most exotic waterfronts, covering three oceans (perhaps four oceans?) to titles that are tease you to open the cover to models turned superstars, the marketing of this issue offers the world a small glimpse into the phenomenal marketing power that Sports Illustrated welds.

Yes, the issues are all tantalizing in both the amount of skin but also in the verbal teasers. Stay tun and see the various locations throughout the world and a small handful of the more than 50 magazine covers that have all made history.

Sports Illustrated Modern Day

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit IssueSports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue2011 Genevieve Morton in Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit IssueSports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit IssueSports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit IssueSports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit IssueSports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit IssueBeyonce 2007 Sports Illustrated in yellow bikini2008 Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue
2011 Genevieve Morton in Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue
2011 Genevieve Morton in Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue
Beyonce 2007 Sports Illustrated in yellow bikini
Beyonce 2007 Sports Illustrated in yellow bikini
2008 Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue
2008 Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue

White Swim Suits

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Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue with white bikiniSports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue in white one piece with white bathing capSports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue in white one piece with sun hat
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue with white bikini
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue with white bikini
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue in white one piece with white bathing cap
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue in white one piece with white bathing cap
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue in white one piece with sun hat
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue in white one piece with sun hat

White Swim Suits - Not the Standard String Bikini

For today's fare, these white swim suits are literally tame but at the time, these photographs were extreme. Had to imagine how far we have advanced until you see the actual photographs.

What does this say about us as a society?

Some may contend that the white two piece suit on the very first cover in 1964 was a bikini - to me, it is a two piece but definitely not a bikini.

Swim Suit Covers from the 1990s

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Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue with yellow tankiniSports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue with gorgeous blond showcasing tone midriffSports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue in black and white one piece with exuberant cleavageSports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue in a provocative poise
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue with yellow tankini
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue with yellow tankini
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue with gorgeous blond showcasing tone midriff
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue with gorgeous blond showcasing tone midriff
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue in black and white one piece with exuberant cleavage
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue in black and white one piece with exuberant cleavage
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue in a provocative poise
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue in a provocative poise

Covers from the 1990s

The magazine covers from the 1990s not surprisingly show more skin along with allot of midriffs. While cleavage has always been central, the 1990s started the trend towards more skin.

1980s Sports Illustrated

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Elle MacPherson Sports Illustrated 19861988 Ele MacPherson Sports IllustratedSports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit IssueKathy Ireland 1989 Sports Illustrated in yellow bikini
Elle MacPherson Sports Illustrated 1986
Elle MacPherson Sports Illustrated 1986
1988 Ele MacPherson Sports Illustrated
1988 Ele MacPherson Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue
Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover for the Swim Suit Issue
Kathy Ireland 1989 Sports Illustrated in yellow bikini
Kathy Ireland 1989 Sports Illustrated in yellow bikini

Magazine Covers from the 1980s of the SI Swim Suit Issues

For the 25th issue, Sports Illustrated strayed away from the one piece suits of the 1980s and delighted us with a yellow bandeau bikini. Who better to showcase the first bikini than Kathy Ireland in 1989.

So what is a bandeau bikini you might ask - well, while there are plenty of fashionistas who could readily provide the definition for you, let's take it the bikini science - yes, there really is a website that specializes in this - here is their definition along with some of the history.


"Bandeau Defined

A bandeau soutien-gorge is a strapless top that circumnavigates the torso and covers both breasts. It may have a fastener at the front or the back, or be sufficiently elastic so as to have no fastener at all. The word is of French origin from the early 1700s and is a diminutive of a band; the plural is bandeaux. The term is also sometimes used to refer to a strapless maillot, as in maillot bandeau."

source: http://www.bikiniscience.com/

Sports Illustrated with Barbie on the cover
Sports Illustrated with Barbie on the cover

Share Your Story (Answers are Anonymous)

Have you ever purchased the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Edition?

See results

Sports Illustrated 50 Greatest Swimsuit Models

Top Swim Suit Sports Illustrated Issue

Top Swim Suit Cover Sports Illustrated
Top Swim Suit Cover Sports Illustrated | Source

Favorite Titles of Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Issue

OK, I know you are more interested in what comes up when I google the top swim suit cover for Sports Illustrated but let's look at the fun titles too.

My personal favorite is "bikinis or nothing" but there are so many to choose from, that for many the top choice may be difficult. Take a gander at just a handful of the fun titles or perhaps they are better described as teasers. You decide what your favorite tempting tidbit might be. What does that tidbit say about you? Does it somehow speak to your personal philosophy?

Tantalizing Titles and Other Teasers Headline the World's Most Famous Magazine Issue


"Polar Bare

Five decades of Sexy Kate Upton

Sexiest Shoot Ever!

End of the Rainbow

Ship Shape and Seaworthy

Beauty and the Beach

Crossing the Line

Barely Bikinis

Tantalizing

Heidi Klum just wearing paint

SI Gets Hotter (complete with trading cards!)

Too Much Fun – Hottest Models, Coolest Places Around the World

Fun Thought

Summer

Hair gets lighter.

Skin gets darker.

Water gets warmer.

Drinks get colder.

Music gets louder.

Nights get longer.

Life gets better!"

Source: Images from Google of SI Front Covers

Locations of the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Issue

Locations around the world covering all four oceans of the world - Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans:

  • Bora Bora
  • Seychelles
  • St John
  • Antarctic Ocean


Oceans of the World and SI Photo Shoot Locations

Oceans of the World
SI Photo Shoot
Location
Pacific
Yes
Bora Bora
Atlantic
Yes
St John, Virgin Islands
Indian
Yes
Seychelles
Artic
Yes
Artic
Southern Artic
Uncertain
TBA?

Sunny Locations Across the Globe

The other item because the beautiful photography of the most famous photo shoot in the world is the geographic location. The locations literally span the globe and serve to highlight the magnificent world that we live in.

I know, I know you thought the swim suit cover was nothing more than folly but there is allot to learn from this pivotal piece of our global culture.

Just three locations alone from St. John to Seychelles to Bora Bora showcase the beautiful waters of not one, not two but three different oceans of the world. For you see, Sports Illustrated has brought us to the waters of the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian Ocean.

Question: Did the issue ever cover the Artic Ocean? I don't believe so. I believe the polar bear issue was actually shot somewhere warm. But if you know the answer, please share with us in the comments below.

From Ocean to Ocean - Various Locations of the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Photo Shoot

A
Seychelles:
Seychelles

get directions

B
Bora Bora:
Bora Bora, French Polynesia

get directions

C
St. John Virgin Island:
Virgin Islands, Virgin Islands National Park, St. John 00830, USVI

get directions

Antarctic Ocean Photo Shoot with Kate Upton on the Cover of Sports Illustrated

Kate Upton on the cover of the Sports Illustrated famous swim suit issue 2013 - photo shoot location - Antarctic Ocean
Kate Upton on the cover of the Sports Illustrated famous swim suit issue 2013 - photo shoot location - Antarctic Ocean

Kate Upton was just 20 years old when she signed on for the photo shoot showcasing the Antarctic Ocean.

To keep this all in perspective, the Antarctic is an area that is larger than the United States and Mexico combined.

Fun Animal Fact

Speaking of the Antarctica and Arctic, let's take on a fun animal fact that will also help us remember the difference between the two regions from blogger Sara Beth Durst:


"Polar bears = Arctic = top of the world. Penguins = Antarctica = bottom of the world. Even if those cute little flightless birds wander up to South America, we're still talking opposite hemispheres. Seriously, these creatures could not live farther apart without leaving the planet. Seeing a polar bear with a penguin would be like walking into your backyard and seeing a chipmunk frolicking with an elephant. It doesn't happen. They don't live together!"

http://sarahbethdurst.blogspot.com/

Famous Quote What Women Don't Do

"They don't become pope or president or go down to the Antarctic."

Sports Illustrated

Sunny and Fun Locations of the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Covers

  • Bora Bora
  • Seyelles
  • St John

The 5th Ocean Declared in 2000


"2000, a new ocean was named and declared by the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO). This fifth one is called the Southern ocean. It extends from the southern part of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian ocean. Discussed below are the various oceans of our planet.

Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/how-many-oceans-are-there-in-the-world.html

Share Your Thoughts

Did you know the most famous swim suit photo shoot covered four of the five oceans of the globe?

See results

Fun Geographic Fact on Oceans and Seas

Speaking of oceans and seas, most of use the terms interchangeably and yet the sea is a different geographic location.

For you see (pun intended - sorry!), seas are smaller than oceans. Seas are located where the land and the ocean meet.


Did you know the ocean is different from the sea?

See results

Locations Across the World for the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Issue

A
Bora Bora:
Bora Bora, French Polynesia

get directions

B
Seychelles:
Seychelles

get directions

C
St John Virgin Island:
Virgin Islands, Virgin Islands National Park, St. John 00830, USVI

get directions

D
Artic Ocean:
Arctic Ocean

get directions

Things One Could Learn From the SI Swim Suit Issue - Three Take Aways

1. There are five oceans in the world.

2. Marketing is about the verbiage - check out the titles that not only tantalize but tease you to open the magazine cover.

3. Creativity is the content of the cover.


Creativity is the Content of the Cover the Magazine

The world's most famous magazine cover is about content. If you look beyond the skin, you will see the creativeness that is carefully crafted. From the originality of the exotic sunny locations to the vast, unexplored region of the Anrtartic Ocean.

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