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Catalina

American, founded 1907

Institution: Catalina
Catalina swimwear developed from the Bentz Knitting Mills, a Los Angeles based manufacturer of underwear and knitwear founded in 1907. In 1912 the company changed its name to Pacific Knitting Mills and introduced swimwear to its knitwear lines. In 1928 the company changed its name to Catalina. Early swimwear designs were based on the unitard introduced to the United States by the Australian swimmer, diver, vaudeville performer and fim star Annette Kellerman. In the 1920s Catalina's designs became more daring and fashionable with the introduction of the boldy striped Chicken suit, the men's Speed suit with its deeply cut arm holes and the women's figure hugging Ribstitch 'S' suit with its low cut back.

Catalina's swimwear combined the athleticism of Jantzen with the theatricality of Cole of California. Catalina saw the marketing potential of aligning their business with Hollywood and adopted the slogan 'Styled for the Stars of Hollywood'. They also used Hollywood starlets Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland and Joan Blondell in advertising campaigns. In the 1940s Catalina employed some of Hollywood's most famous costume designers including Edith Head, Orry Kelly, Travis Banton and Milo Anderson.

Catalina also became the official supplier of swimsuits for the Miss America beauty pageant. Their modest classic one-piece suits became a centre-piece of the pageant, reinventing the bathing beauty as a national icon. Catalina sponsored the Miss America pageant until 1951 and in the following decades went on to found and co-sponsor the Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss Universe pageants. Their new slogan 'Around the world...it's Catalina' reflected the company's global aspirations. In the 1960s Catalina joined with Cole of California and in 1993 both companies joined Warnaco Inc as subsidiaries. In 2008 Catalina was part of the Warnaco Swimwear Group which included brands such as Speedo, Anne Cole, Nautica and Michael Kors.