The trend started, as these things usually do, with Taylor Swift.
On June 10, 2015, the multi-Grammy winner posted a photo to Instagram of herself and her then-boyfriend, DJ Calvin Harris, sitting atop a giant inflatable swan.
Scroll through the gallery above to see our favourite pool inflatables you can buy in the UAE.
In the weeks that followed, searches for “inflatable swans” on Google more than doubled, and just like that, Swift — already the inspiration behind #squadgoals — had created a new set of goals: pool ones.
However, the Style singer didn’t stop there in redefining the pool aesthetic for a generation.
By the summer of 2016, she and Harris split up, but Swift had moved on with Tom Hiddleston, and set about introducing the world to the concept of Taymerica, an event which would further cement her queen of summer status.
For Taymerica, Swift gathered together some of her closest A-list friends, including Cara Delevingne, Karlie Kloss and Gigi Hadid, and Hiddleston, for her Fourth of July party. A bash that quickly earned the hashtag #taymerica on Instagram.
The annual party upped the ante, moving beyond mere inflatable birds to incorporate giant inflatable slides, at her Rhode Island home.
Gen Z prop and status symbol
Cool inflatables instantly became a favourite prop of the Instagram generation, as well as a status symbol, becoming the perfect way to show off your pool, lake, summer holiday or beach body.
Pretty soon, no summer Instagram grid was complete without a snap atop a giant inflatable unicorn.
There was even an event dedicated to it. Floatchella was hosted on the Jersey Shore in the US in July 2017, and boasted one inviolable rule: “no basic floats”. The message was clear: turn up with your traditional lilo and you won’t be allowed in.
These days, you can find most things in inflatable form.
There are entire zoos worth of animals to choose from, from alligators to giraffes, and bears to lobsters. Food-based floats have also become a firm favourite with the likes of watermelons, doughnuts, pizzas, strawberries, cupcakes and ice-creams.
While old-school pool noodles, water wings and rubber rings will always be handy for those learning to swim, nothing less than a gold-winged unicorn will do for a pool aesthetic Swift would be proud of.