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Splashgear swimwear from Huntington Beach, California
Swim Hood from Splashgear
Splashgear LLC is a Huntington Beach, California-based company founded by Shereen Sabet. The company manufactures and retails modest and full coverage swimwear primarily targeted towards Muslim and other religious women (e.g., conservative Christian and Jewish women). Clientele also includes women who have physical abnormalities, are allergic to sunscreen, and have skin cancer concerns, or who do not prefer to wear the conventional bathing suits.


[edit] History

Founded in 2006 in the U.S.A., Splashgear became the fourth company worldwide that offered swimwear for devout, observant Muslim women. Those other companies are headquartered in Egypt, Turkey, and Australia. By the end of 2007, there were ten companies worldwide in the same market.

Splashgear was established because of the lack of swimwear for religiously-observant women who must remain modestly dressed in mixed company. 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.

All Splashgear apparel are manufactured in the USA.

[edit] Future Plans

Splashgear plans to add a men’s swimwear line in the near future.

[edit] Design

Splashgear currently offers a women’s swimwear line that is composed of six different garments. It is the only company that sells each piece separately to allow the customer to mix and match styles in order to suit her tastes. Splashgear is unique among its competition and differs from the other so-called Islamic swimwear companies by basing its swimwear outfit on modern, Western surfwear, such as the men’s rash guard and boardshorts. 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.

All of the knit products in the line (i.e., 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). All of the woven products in the line (i.e., all swim bottoms) are constructed from 100% microfiber “peached” polyester fabric that is inherently chlorine-proof and also provides UV protection of 50+. 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.

The swim shirts and swim bottoms are produced in a variety of sizes (misses and women’s plus) and lengths (petite, regular, and tall).

[edit] Hair Covers

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 Inc., which used to private label this garment for Splashgear. 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 natural part of the Splashgear swimwear line.

The Swim Cap is also a 3-panel design and is similar to swim caps that are currently on the market; however, the Splashgear swim cap is larger than current swim caps and is made of 100% polyester knit fabric, as opposed to silicone, which makes it easier and more comfortable to put on, to wear, and to remove. The swim cap covers the hair and ears, but not the neck, and would be considered less conservative than the swim hood due to its less coverage.

[edit] Swim Shirts

Splashgear offers two different styles of swim shirts: the Island Shirt and the Resort Shirt.

The Island Shirt is based off the NeoSport Inc. rash guard, which used to private label this garment for Splashgear. The Island shirt is long-sleeved, is a looser fit than the current rash guards on the market, and is double-lined in the front panel. The combination of the looser fit and 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, which defeats the purpose of being modest, but then allows her to loosen the shirt when out of the water for a looser, even more modest look. The Resort Shirt is also long-sleeved and has the double-lined front panel.

[edit] Swim Bottoms

Splashgear offers two different styles of swim bottoms: the Resort Pants and the La Femme.

The Resort Pants are a pair of board pants—essentially, 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, as they believe it is not modest to do so or because they believe that women are not allowed to wear such clothing. The skirt falls above the knee and has a side slit for safety reasons to allow freedom of leg movement during in-water activities. Just as with the Resort Pants, other 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. In order to prevent immodest sticking of the wet pants to the legs, the La Femme also contains interface in the pant leg cuffs.

[edit] Endorsements

In 2013, the Melanoma International Foundation granted Splashgear its Seal of Approval for its UV protective swimwear line.

In 2012 the Skokie Park District officially endorsed Splashgear as an approved swimwear line for use in its public pools.

This is a significant achievement as there has been much controversy regarding the use of the Burkini in public pools and even outright banning of such full-coverage swimwear, mainly in European countries that are currently experiencing Islamophobia. However, no such negative repercussions have been reported in the USA or for Splashgear-specific swimwear.

In fact, in 2006, Washtenaw County in Michigan was most likely the first county in the United States of America to pass the first swimwear policy that accommodates individuals who cannot, for religious reasons, wear the common bathing suit in mixed company. The Washtenaw County's Parks and Recreation Commission came to this unanimous decision after a 13-year-old Muslim female had been ejected from a public pool because of the full-coverage street clothing she chose to wear. For health and safety reasons, street clothes are generally not permitted in public pools. However, Washtenaw county officials investigated the situation after an American Civil Liberties Union attorney wrote a letter to the Parks director informing him that the county had violated the young girl's constitutional rights to religious accommodation. Other religious groups also abide by a modest public dress code including Orthodox Jews, the Amish, and Mormons.

[edit] Public Policy

The new change in policy proposed by the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission strictly defined what type of clothing and fabric is allowed for public pool use:
• Clothing must allow free movement of arms and legs and be free from hardware such as belts, buckles and rivets.
• The clothing material must be lightweight as to not inhibit a patron's movement or weigh them down in the pool. Fabrics such as nylon, polyester, Lycra, or thin cotton are acceptable.
• Clothing also must not be so loose that it could cause entanglement, entrapment or strangulation in pool equipment.

Splashgear swimwear abides by all of these criteria and is considered to be acceptable swimwear for public pool use in the U.S.A.

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