Wetsuits have been helping surfers, divers, and swimmers stay warm in cold waters since the 1950s. These suits help wearers avoid hypothermia by trapping a layer of water between the suit and the wearer’s skin. The trapped water is kept warm by the wearer’s body heat.
While the official inventor of the wetsuit design may still be debated, one thing is for sure: The first wetsuits were made of neoprene, a material derived from petroleum. Wetsuits have evolved over the years, but many are still made from petroleum-based neoprene and are often black in color. Aside from the unsustainable material, these stretchy suits can be challenging to recycle once they are torn or have outlived their lifecycle.
In 2014, Jamie DeFay Collins decided to change the status quo and started tinkering with wetsuit designs and materials. Based on the North Shores of Oahu in Hawaii, the designer began creating patterns for wetsuits and handprinted her designs onto the pieces. Like any activewear designer, she tweaked the items until they worked perfectly. The result was a line of colorful women's wetsuits to stand out in a sea of black neoprene.
Apart from the colorful designs, the material also sets these suits apart from traditional wetsuits. Sirensong uses Yamamoto neoprene which, unlike traditional petroleum-based neoprene, can be considered more sustainable because it is limestone-based. This natural material requires less energy to work with and poses no risk of oil spills.
Yamamoto is located in Japan and has been experimenting with wetsuit material since 1961. Some of their earliest customers were the famous Japanese oyster divers. Yamamoto also uses hydro power to offset greenhouse gas emissions when working with this material.
Besides incorporating natural limestone, this wetsuit material offers other perks for those who want to take a dip in chilly waters. For example, the material is lighter than other wetsuits and has 40 percent better heat retention than conventional neoprene suits.
The material is also seven times stretchier than traditional wetsuits. More importantly, Yamamoto contends that this material is significantly more durable than other wetsuits. This feature helps minimize the need to keep buying more suits and create more consumer waste.
Sirensong adapts this material into signature pieces by hand-painting, silk-screening or printing designs on the Yamamoto neoprene which can range from 2mm-3mm in thickness. The ready-to-wear designs come in full coverage bottoms, or cheeky Hawaiian-cut and long sleeves are optional. All the pieces come with side ties which allow users to personally customer every wetsuit to her body.
Collin’s team designs, colors, and finishes every piece using eco-friendly processes in their workshop in Hawaii. Sirensong also takes on custom orders if they have time to fit in special requests.
While Sirensong is a small company, ocean enthusiasts can find these colorful wetsuits in surf shops around the world from California to Australia. The team is currently focused on wetsuits for warm-water climates, but are in the process of developing leggings and full suit options as well.