Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Swimwear in the 1920s

Black woolen men's swimsuit, Pacific brand, c. 1920s-1930s
Courtesy of the Katikati Heritage Collection
One of the items in the Katikati Heritage Museum's small collection of vintage clothing is this men's  swimsuit.  Branded with a green fern logo and the name "Pacific," it was probably made, and used, in the 1920s and 1930s.  One-piece "elastic" knitted wool suits became common after the Great War,  and the American Association of Park Superintendents' official 1917 Bathing Suit Regulations specified that men’s suits should have a skirt that covered the shorts.  By the mid-1930s they were being manufactured with Lastex, a woven satin finish elastic and silk material.  The Australian swimming team caused an uproar at the 1936 Olympics by wearing bare-chested Speedo shorts. (Vintage Mens Swimwear by Collector's Weekly)

Group at the beach, Lake Winnipeg, Canada, 1921
This photograph taken in 1921 shows a range of woolen swimming attire, including two men's one-piece costumes very similar to that in the museum's collection.  (The handsome man at the right with a cigarette hanging from his lips is the author's grandfather.)

Post Script (31 Aug 2014):

Society member Shirley Arabin has sent in this snapshot of her father-in-law wearing a bathing suit on Mount Maunganui Main Beach.

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