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Women's Gantner & Matten swimsuit

Date: 1920s
Overall: 840 x 560 mm, 326 g
Medium: Machine knitted cotton
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Robin Lucas and Geoffrey Dutton
Object Name: Swimsuit
Object No: 00047849

User Terms

    This swimsuit is representative of the athletic knitted swimsuits worn by women in the 1920s. Bold solid colours highlighted with contrasting trim and stripes gives the swimsuit a more fashion conscious attitude and is a departure from a move away from the more subdued colours of previous decades. It features a full skirt over shorts for modesty. It is a briefer design than the one and two- piece Canadian style swimsuits worn by men, women and children in the 1910s. It is made from machine knitted wool and designed to fit over the body like a sock.

    SignificanceThe tank swimsuit was the popular style that replaced Canadian two piece swimsuits worn by men, women and children in the 1910s. It represents a transition from purely functional to fashion swimwear.
    HistoryAs neck-to-knee bathing restrictions eased, swimwear manufacturers responded with more revealing designs in the 1910s.

    The one-piece athletic tank suit was developed by Jantzen in the United States of America by Jantzen in 1913 and was soon imitated by other manufacturers and aggressively promoted in the 1920s through a national Learn-to-swim campaign. It fitted the body like a sock and allowed greater freedom of movement in the water. This is the garment that "changed bathing into swimming" and the style was worn by men and women. A full overskirt provided a double layer of wool for modesty. It was a modification of the earlier dress worn over bloomers for bathing in the late 19th century and the long top worn as part of two-piece Canadian swimsuits in the 1910s.

    In the 1920s swimsuits became fashionable garments with the introduction of a broader range of colours and the use of geometric patterns in the wool knit influenced by European modernist design.

    Gantner & Matten manufactured swimwear in San Francisco in the 1920s and was still active in the 1940s.
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