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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Marine Modesty From Surf City's Splashgear

Huntington Beach, California is known as Surf City USA®.

Numerous surf lifestyle and swimwear brands have come from this Southern California seaside community, from TYR and Katin to Quiksilver and Roxy.

Cool, hip and fashionable, these swimwear and surfing brands have forged their way into the swimming, marine sports and beach-going communities over the decades.

Now Huntington Beach and its surfing and marine sports mindset have had an influence on a completely different swimwear market.

Shereen Sabet had a need and an inspiration when she founded Splashgear.

A devout Muslim woman, Sabet has combined the fabrics and feel of marine sports swimwear with the modesty and religious requirements of Muslim and other conservative women.

Sabet is a scuba diving hobbyist and found her inspiration for Splashgear based on a marine sports lifestyle with a modest, full-coverage twist.

"In the surfing community, quick-drying fabrics and designs are very important. Same with our Splashgear products which have to be modest both in and out of the water."

Founded in 2006, Splashgear designs, manufactures and markets modest and full coverage swimwear primarily targeted towards Muslim and other religious women including conservative Christian and Jewish women as well as women with physical abnormalities or who do not prefer to wear the conventional bathing suits.

"Splashgear was established because of the lack of swimwear for religiously-observant women who must remain modestly dressed in mixed company," explains Sabet. "According to Islamic beliefs, both boys and girls who reach puberty must cover up their sexuality in front of unrelated members of the opposite sex and must do so throughout their adult life. Due to the difference between males and females, the dress code is different. Women must cover their entire body except for their face, hands, and feet; while men must cover at a minimum the area from their navel to just below their knee. Furthermore, clothing cannot be skin tight, revealing, or transparent for both men and women."

As she balances her religious beliefs with the needs of people in the ocean, Sabet designed a women’s line that includes six different garments. "We sell each piece separately to allow the customer to mix and match styles in order to suit her tastes. Splashgear differs from the other Islamic swimwear companies because we base our swimwear designs on modern, Western surf wear including men’s rash guards and board shorts. This deliberate design style was chosen in order to help women integrate more easily into the mainstream at the pool or beach by wearing something that looks familiar to the non-Muslim public, despite the unusual full-coverage."

Sabet's clientele also includes women who are allergic to sunscreen or have skin cancer concerns. "Our swim shirts and hair covers are made of 100% polyester/PBT fabric that is inherently chlorine-proof and offers UV protection of at least 40, depending on the color: the lighter the color, the lower the UV protection; while the darker the color, the higher the UV protection. Our swim bottoms are constructed from 100% microfiber peached polyester fabric that provides UV protection of 50+."

As a diver, Sabet understands the importance of the swimwear not impeding movement in the water or reducing buoyancy. "The microfiber woven fabric is known in the apparel industry as the first generation fabric for the men’s mainstream classic board shorts that surfers commonly wear. The synthetic fabrics do not absorb water and do not weigh down the swimmer, thereby offering a lightweight product that is safe to use in-water."

Splashgear offers two different styles of hair covers: the Swim Hood and the Swim Cap.

The Swim Hood is a 3-panel design based on the 2-panel hood design of NeoSport. The hood covers the hair, ears, and neck, therefore providing full-coverage of the head and neck. Traditionally, the hood is used by warm water snorkelers and scuba divers to protect their head against stinging marine animals. The hood looks very similar to what many Muslim women wear as a hijab and, for this reason, quickly became a part of the Splashgear line.

The Swim Cap is also a 3-panel design and is larger than current swim caps on the market. They cover the hair and ears, but not the neck, and are considered less conservative than the swim hood due to its less coverage.

Splashgear's Island Shirt is based off the NeoSport rash guard and is a long-sleeved, looser fit than the current rash guards on the market. Its double-lined front panel provide modesty in the chest area.

The longer, tunic-length Resort Shirt is a modification of the Island Shirt. It was designed based on customer demand for a longer shirt that provides coverage over the buttocks. The Resort Shirt has a drawcord waist with cord lock that allows the swimmer to tighten the shirt while in-water to prevent the looser shirt from riding up and exposing the torso.

Splashgear's Resort Pants are a pair of board pants that are a longer version of the popular men’s boardshorts that go all the way down to the ankle. Modesty features include straight-leg styling as well as interface contained within the pant leg cuffs that prevent immodest sticking of the wet pants to the legs. Safety features include an internal drawcord waist with cord lock, a mesh pocket for water drainage, and pant legs that do not fall below the ankle in order to provide clearance, or freedom of foot movement, during swimming.

The La Femme is a one-piece garment that combines an A-line skirt with a pair of swim pants. This garment was designed for women who do not feel comfortable wearing pants or trousers in mixed company. The skirt falls above the knee and has a side slit for safety reasons to allow freedom of leg movement during in-water activities.



Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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