This pair of daring, bare-chested, wool jersey men's swimming costume trunks with a modesty skirt were made in Australia by Speedo Australia Pty Ltd and worn by B.C. Worbeys in 1938. First seen at the 1936 German Olympic Games, these swimsuit shorts quickly took over from the one-piece suits with shoulder straps.
Speedo began manufacturing its brand of racing suits in 1929 and was very successful in setting up alliances with surf lifesaving clubs around Australia. Nylon tricot replaced wool in 1960. Note the classic Speedo logo sewn at the right hip.
In the early twentieth century, Australia's enjoyment of the beach was marred by prohibitions on mixed bathing, bathing during daylight hours and laws relating to appropriate beachwear.
By the 1920s and 1930s these moral injunctions were relaxed. The growing popularity and acceptability of sea bathing, combined with the belief that exercise and exposure to the sun held healthy benefits, saw the voluminous bathing suits of the early century replaced with a range of fashionable swimwear styles.