Speedo® originated in 1914 under the brand name 'Fortitude', which was taken from the motto on the clan MacRae crest. The Company was started by a young Scot called Alexander MacRae, who migrated to Australia in 1910, and set up an underwear manufacture business called MacRae Hosiery manufacturers. In response to the growing beach culture in Australia, MacRae quickly expanded his operations to include swimwear and changed the company name to MacRae Knitting Mills.
During the 1920's the swimwear market grew rapidly, thanks to the acceptance of swimming as a sport and a more liberal attitude towards mixed bathing. In 1928 MacRae introduced the classic, figure-hugging "Racerback" costume, which permitted greater freedom of movement, allowing wearers to swim faster. This inspired staff member Captain Parsons to coin the slogan 'Speed on in your Speedos' and the Speedo name was born in 1928.
The first Speedo swimsuits were produced in 1929. The newly-named brand soon established itself in the hearts and minds of the swimmers and the general public, thanks in part to Swedish swimmer Arne Borg, who set a world record in Speedo swimwear. Swimwear fashions changed constantly throughout the 1930's, and Speedo products began to make the headlines for their style and performance with suits being worn at the 1932 Los Angeles and 1936 Berlin Olympic Games
The Second World War saw the brand dedicate over 90% of its capacity to supplying vital equipment to the armed forces. After the war, Speedo quickly re-established itself, even opening a new factory to cope with increased demand for swimsuits - spearheaded by the bikini. Two-piece swimsuits for women had first appeared just before the war, but were not yet commonly regarded as decent - in fact, the Speedo bikini was banned by Australian beach inspectors! Speedo continued to dominate competitive swimming, with an increasing number of athletes choosing to endorse the Speedo brand. During the 1950’s Speedo dominated the Melbourne Olympics and soon after began exporting to the USA in 1959, and formed a new International Division to monitor the New Zealand, Japanese and South African markets. Speedo also moved into Europe, buying a 30% share of Robert Shaw and Company Ltd. in Nottingham, England.
The global growth of the brand continued during the 1960s. The Speedo (Europe) subsidiary was established in London, England, and Speedo swimwear manufacture and distribution licenses were granted to corporations in Japan and South Africa. Speedo is the first company to start producing swimwear made of nylon/elastane in the 1970’s and it is still the most popular swimwear fabric today. Since then Speedo have continued to been innovators and have developed numerous generations of technical race suits and equipment