speedo story

When Speedo launched its LZR Racer swimsuit in February 2008, it was a sensation. Designed in collaboration with Comme des Garçons and tested in Nasa's wind tunnel facilities, the suit's high-tech fabric repelled water and increased flexibility. 'When I hit the water I feel like a rocket,' said Michael Phelps, the US swimming champion, before going on to win eight gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. 'It's really exciting for swimmers,' said Jason Rance, the head of Speedo's Aqualab, the company's research and development facility in Nottingham. 'They say they feel like Superman.' Ninety-four per cent of all Beijing's swimming golds were won by athletes wearing the suit.

But then in July 2009 Fina, swimming's world governing body, banned the LZR on the basis that it gave its wearers an unfair advantage. The LZR would never be allowed again in a major swimming championship. The decision left Speedo with a significant problem: 18,000 obsolete swimsuits, most stuck in a warehouse.

Speedo gave the swimsuits to Orsola de Castro, 44, the founder of From Somewhere, a fashion label specializing in recycling off-cuts and 'waste' into new garmets.

De Castro sources lengths of fabric that manufacturers discard: beautiful silks and jerseys, all off-cuts from the fashion industry.
By September she had created a 10-piece collection from the swimsuits, turning bottoms into elegant sleeves, and legs transformed into a pleated skirt.