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Men's Speedo Racerback swimsuit

Date: 1930s
Overall: 520 x 395 mm
Medium: Cotton
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Judy Bottrell
Object Name: Swimsuit
Object No: 00004600
Place Manufactured:Sydney

User Terms

    Speedo launched its famous Racerback swimsuit for men and women in 1927. It quickly became very popular for both competitive swimmers and casual beachgoers. This royal blue cotton stockingette men's swimsuit was manufactured in Sydney in the 1930s and features the patented half skirt and narrow back panel with twin straps that allowed the swimmer such amazing freedom of movement.

    The original paper manufacturers tag is tied to the shoulder strap and reads:

    "Speedo Knitting Mills". Pty.Ltd. (Incorporating Macrae Knitting Mills Pty.Ltd.) Newtown, Sydney, NSW / Your Speedo swimsuit is guaranteed against manufacturing faults. To ensure satisfaction the following points for the care of your swimsuit should by observed. Rinse in clean, fresh water after use; hot water and caustic soaps will fade colours and damage swimsuit. Always see that garment is dry before putting away as mildew may form and adversely effect fabric. Excessive friction caused by slippery dips, duck diving etc. Damage the material. Responsibility cannot by accepted unless reasonable care is taken of this garment."
    SignificanceThe swimsuit is a rare example of the Speedo Racerback swimming costumes manufactured in Sydney during the 1930s.
    HistoryIn 1927 Speedo launched a new competitive swimming costume for men and women called the Racerback. The design was loosely based on the Canadian style swimsuit, which arrived in Australia in the early 1920s.

    The Racerback was innovative in its incorporation of a high, narrow back panel with twin straps. This unique configuration facilitated greater freedom of movement for the shoulder and back muscles. The swimsuit also had a patented half-skirt, replacing the ungainly and restrictive full skirt. The half skirt allowed the swimmer greater leg movement, while ensuring the modesty offered by the full skirt.

    Though the design was initially introduced for competitive swimmers, Speedo quickly saw an opportunity for the costume in the wider and more lucrative leisure market. By hiring competitive swimmers of the day to endorse and promote their new swimsuit Speedo managed to promote their product to the greater public and dramatically increase sales.

    Most prominent of all was the Australian Champion and world record holder, Arne Borg, who regularly appeared in Speedo advertisements. This relationship between sport stars and the product represents one of the earliest Australian examples of sports personality endorsement.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: Men's Speedo Racerback swimsuit


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