He peruses the supermarket aisles as well as small boutiques when he travels, determined to find his go-to float of the season. In 2016, it was a tube made to look like a turquoise sprinkled doughnut. The next year, he bought two: one in the shape of a unicorn, the other a palm tree! Recently the Mumbai based Harshad settled on a utilitarian black-and-blue tube — perhaps more likely than the rest to endure a trip to Goa with the kids — but he’s still got his eye on an inflatable llama.
Sure, pool floats should reliably float. But more important, are they Instagram-friendly?
We have entered the era of glistening rose-gold swans, oversized pineapples and eight-foot-wide angel wings. In 2019, most things, including pool inflatables, are now optimized for social media.
“We are putting the form ahead of the function with these products,” acknowledged Andrés Alfonso, director of creative development at BigMouth, an inflatables manufacturer.
Online, the pool float is the accessory of the summer; it stands as a universal symbol of excessive leisure and of pure relaxation, adorned by carefree captions about sunshine and beaches.
It all began with an Instagram post by Taylor Swift. In summer 2015, she shared a photo of herself and then-boyfriend Calvin Harris, both swimsuit-clad, perched atop a massively buoyant swan. Suddenly, animal floats were “the hottest trend of the season,” declared People magazine.
“They are a summer staple,” said Daswani, “The float doesn’t leave popular culture, but every year, what design is popular or what’s trending changes.”
Pool floats are bright and garish, typically a gigantic floatable version of a striking if somewhat random object, like a bottle of rosé or a monstera leaf.
Pri Shewakramani, co-founder of The Beach Company, said “I take a lot of photos of my kids outside, so this year I chose to buy fruit-themed floats to add some color and fun to my images,” she said. The family owns a watermelon, pineapple and rainbow cloud float.
For a generation that is attached to social media, the float is akin to a prop — something that helps communicate a certain lifestyle that customers are trying to embody.
“It is a luxury to soak up some sun,” Daswani said. “You might not have that yacht, but you can be having fun on a cool pool float just like any other celebrity.”