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Women's 1964 Australian Olympic team-inspired swimsuit

Date: 1964
Overall: 720 x 370 mm, 0.07 kg
Display dimensions: 780 x 380 mm
Clothing size: 36
Medium: Bri-nylon, polyester
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Speedo International Ltd
Object Name: Swimsuit
Object No: 00019038

User Terms

    This one piece women's swimsuit, featuring the 1964 Australian Olympic swimming team uniform design, was designed by Gloria Smythe and produced in Australia under license from Speedo. The green and yellow nylon swimsuit features a quarter skirt, wide shoulder straps, a contour back and a high scooped neck. Made from six separate pieces of fabric with a fine yellow gauze gusset, the swimsuit was a complicated construction. A cloth badge on the chest is embroidered with 'Australia Tokyo 1964' and a kangaroo. Speedo first released commercial ranges of the designs they produced for various national Olympic teams in the 1960s.

    Australian swimmers used the green and gold vertical 'block stripe' fabric for their swimsuits for the first time in 1964 at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Previously competitors in international competitions had worn swimsuits in solid colours.

    SignificanceProduced as a stock retail item, this swimsuit shows the influence of Olympic team designs on Speedo's commercial swimwear ranges in the 1960s.

    HistoryIn 1955 Speedo introduced nylon into its competitive swimwear designs, and the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne saw the widespread use of the new fabric. At the Rome Olympic Games in 1960 the Australian swimming team first wore the Prestige Nylon Tricot fabric. By 1972 the Federation Internationale de Natation (FINA) allowed women to swim skirtless, though it was not until the 1976 Montreal Games that the Australian team followed this trend.

    Gloria Smythe (now Mortimer-Dunn) started working for Speedo in 1962, at a time when the company was establishing its reputation for performance swimwear. Focusing on experimenting with the cut of the swimsuit and eye-catching print designs, Smythe's attitude was always that Speedo was a global player selling to swimmers everywhere.

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