Sports Illustrated (SI) is an American sports magazine owned by Authentic Brands Group, and was first published in August 1954. It is best known for its annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, which has been published since 1964 and has featured many of the world's most famous fashion models and supermodels of the past few decades.
The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue is published annually and features many of the world's most famous fashion models and supermodels wearing swimwear (sexy bikinis and swimsuits) in various locations around the world. The highly coveted magazine cover photograph has been considered as one of the crowning achievements of supermodel success. The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue is also credited with making the bikini (invented in 1946) a legitimate piece of swimwear for women, famous fashion models, and supermodels.
The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue was invented by Sports Illustrated editor Andre Laguerre to fill the winter months, a typically slow point in the sporting calendar. Andre Laguerre asked fashion reporter Jule Campbell to go on a photo shoot to fill magazine space, including the Sports Illustrated magazine cover, with a beautiful fashion model. The first Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, released in 1964, entailed a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit magazine cover featuring fashion model Babette March and a five page fashion modeling layout. Jule Campbell eventually molded the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue into a media phenomenon by featuring beautiful California fashion models and printing the names of the models with their photos, beginning a new supermodel era.
In the 1950s, a few women appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, but the 1964 issue is considered to be the beginning of the current format known as the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue that got the most letters was the 1978 edition (for teenagers that might be reading this, it is important to note that people used to write good old fashion paper letters to publishers in the 1970's because e-mail did not become widely available until the late 1990's).
In 1997, supermodel Tyra Banks was the first black woman on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit magazine cover. Since 1997, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue has been a stand-alone edition, separate from the regular weekly magazine. The best selling Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue was the 25th anniversary issue featuring famous fashion model and legendary supermodel Kathy Ireland on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit magazine cover in 1989.
Throughout the years, many famous fashion models and supermodels, such as Cheryl Tiegs, Christie Brinkley, Paulina Porizkova, Elle Macpherson, Rachel Hunter, Rebecca Romijn, Petra Nemcova, Valeria Mazza, Heidi Klum, Tyra Banks, Marisa Miller, Irina Shayk, and Camille Kostek have been featured on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover. Other famous fashion models and supermodels featured within the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue pages, but not on the magazine cover, include famous fashion models and legendary supermodels Cindy Crawford, Stephanie Seymour, Niki Taylor, Angie Everhart, and Naomi Campbell.
The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue had been published every February from 1964 until 2019, when the release date was changed to May of every year (before the start of the summer season in the northern hemisphere).