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Women's neoprene wetsuit

Date: 1970
Overall: 810 x 400 mm, 0.4 kg
Medium: Neoprene, nylon
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Jenni Martin
Object Name: Wetsuit
Object No: V00015902
Place Manufactured:United Kingdom

User Terms

    This two piece wetsuit is made from black neoprene with blue nylon lining, and has a 'shark-skin' finish. The jacket has a high collar, a black plastic zipper at the front, and two metal studs. The pants are full length.

    The suit was homemade by Mrs Martin in 1970 from materials purchased at a department store in Manchester, United Kingdom. The pattern pieces were drawn on the back of a single sheet and were cut out with ordinary scissors, then butt-jointed, glued and taped. The cost of materials in 1970 was £10. At the same time a commercially made wetsuit would have cost around £40.
    SignificanceThe suit was made as a 21st birthday present for Jenni Martin. It was used for surfing, scuba diving and snorkeling, and was worn in Wales, France and Australia. It is representative of changes in the development of surfing and diving equipment since the late 1950s, and is a rare example of a homemade wetsuit belonging to an amateur female surfer.
    HistoryWetsuits are used by surfers and divers for thermal insulation, as well as for protection against sun exposure, jelly fish, coral and other marine hazards. Different forms of open and closed neoprene are used in warm-water and cold-water suits, and they come in a variety of styles to accommodate the differing needs of the wearer.

    Wetsuits were developed in the 1950s, and were first made out of foam rubber neoprene that did not have any form of backing material. In order to stabilise the suits and stop them from easily tearing apart, a layer of nylon was applied to the inside of the neoprene. The more colourful suits of the 1970s were a result of the introduction of double-backed neoprene, where neoprene was set in between two protective outer layers. The external layer meant that designers were now able to incorporate decorative colours, logos and patterns into the suits.

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