Proceedings of the AICCM TSIG Symposium, Sydney, Australia 19 to 22 May, 2016

Speedo® has become an international brand well known for their swimming attire; the name itself evokes speed and winning Olympic races. The Speedo® label was born in 1928 from a staff competition at the MacRae Knitting Mill in Sydney Australia with the winning slogan ‘Speed on in your Speedo’. The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in Sydney holds the only Speedo® archives in the world and the most comprehensive costume collection from the 1930’s to 2012 Olympic Games.

During a survey of the Speedo® LYCRA® costume collection in the museum’s climate controlled storage, it was discovered all the swimwear made in the 1980s were showing signifcant signs of deterioration. All these costumes have a composition of 80% Nylon and 20% LYCRA®, a registered trademark for DUPONT’s elastane fbres. Our swimwear collection fabricated in this era felt damp to touch, left stains and residue on tissue paper and showed major loss of elasticity. This paper will investigate the reasons why this has occurred. The fndings from Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) with UATR accessory, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (NMR), Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) analysis and RH testing will be discussed.

A method using FTIR as a tool to monitor the deterioration of this collection will also be discussed. Determining ways to slow down their deterioration will not only assist in preserving this important collection but also to apply the results to the Museum’s large collection of plastics. New collection storage conditions was proposed. As new technologies are developed to improve performance, new challenges are thrown to museum conservators.

AICCM Textile Special Interest Group 2016 Symposium: Emerging Technologies in Textile Conservation
Paper author:
Suzanne Chee & Sue Gatenby