LIFE

Men's Speedos Through The Years Got Bigger, Then Much, Much Smaller

How much can you innovate a pair of Speedos? Heaps.

10/08/2016 11:00 AM AEST | Updated August 10, 2016 16:34
Fairfax Media / Speedo

Women's swimsuits have stolen the show for far too long. Sure, sexy bikinis and risque cutaways are eye catching (and occasionally sand catching) but men's togs deserve some attention too.

After all, Australian company Speedos has virtually led the way in men's swimwear since the 1920s. It's just that this path hasn't strayed far from the original.

Take the label's latest season launch, was revealed overnight. If you look closely, you'll see there are subtle differences.

Speedo
Speedos International's latest launch of men's swimwear is bright.

Sure, they look like a pair of Speedos... DTs, dickstickers, toggs, budgie smugglers but there's something different. They have more of a band shape than the original that was more akin to a drawstring pair of underpants -- after all, the Speedo creator was originally an undergarment manufacturer.

Also, they're small. Like, really small. As in check-out-my-well-muscled-lower-abdomen small. For some, it's probably I-needed-two-hours-and-a-tub-of-hot-wax-to-be-able-to-wear-these-in-public, small.

To chart the evolution of men's swimwear, we need to go back in time to the first big shock in Speedos history.

Let's go back to 1960 when the traditional Speedo was redesigned in a collection so scandalous, the first man to wear them would be arrested.

SPEEDO / KATE GERAGHTY / FAIRFAX MEDIA
The Speedo Golden Sands Series catalog for the summer of 1960-61, described as 'dramatic'.

In the years after WWII, Speedo had begun exporting to the U.S. and Europe, was well known for creating Olympic swimming outfits, they had been suiting the nation's Surf Life Saving clubs for decades and had by and by stayed true to the original Speedo shape.

Andrew Stephenson / Fairfax Media
This is 1960s Speedo designer Gloria Smyth with the cutting-edge, 8-inch sided trunks that the USA swim used at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Then the Golden Sands Collection hit the scene in 1960 with a smaller, more streamline shape. Designer Peter Travis from Manly, Sydney created the series after being told to copy a Hawaiian trunk design.

"My reply was: 'The whole world will have that. I will start with a costume you will swim in'," he told The Sydney Morning Herald as an 80-year-old in 2008.

Fairfax Media / Kate Geraghty
The Speedo Golden Sands Series catalog is a collector's item now.

The result was a small but streamline pair of Speedos that sat at the hip instead of the waist and the first man to wear a pair on Bondi Beach was pulled up by a beach inspector. A magistrate presiding over the incident did not pursue charges because "there was no pubic hair showing".

In 1972, neoprene was on the scene and tiny toggs were replaced by wetsuit-style shorts, and, if you take the below photoshoot as gospel, manspreading was cool in a big way.

Doris Thomas / Fairfax Media
The wetsuit-style neoprene shorts.

In 1976, Speedo made the swimwear for the Australian team at the Montreal Olympics and there was not a head-to-toe speedsuit in sight.

They'd recently switched to nylon/elastane, similar to today's swimsuit material.

RICK STEVEN / FAIRFAX MEDIA
No, our Olympians were't really, really good looking and bad at diving. These models just showcased the official uniform.

In the late 80s, it was all about high-tech fabric and directional style.

Speedo / Fairfax Media
In the 1980s, these swimmers were called 'Hi-Tech Speedos'.

Then, what's this? Boardshorts, Y-fronts, Lara Bingle... the modern era arrived.

Speedo
Lara Bingle and Andrew Lauterstein modelling modern Speedos in a car park. We don't know why. Maybe there's an underground pool nearby?

Getty Images
This little girl is not happy about boardshorts in the 2011 Speedo launch.

So that about brings us to today, where Speedos are small, low-cut and really, when you think about it, pretty dang similar to the 1960s style that got its first wearer arrested.

These days, tiny Speedos are not shunned, they're celebrated!

Edwina Pickles / Fairfax Media
This guy put on his favourite Speedos for election day.

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