This year at DEMA Show 2019, there were more than a few first-timers on the scene. DeeperBlue.com got the chance to sit down with one up-and-comer who’s making wetsuits and other aquatic apparel specifically for women.
Mermaid Protector was born from one woman’s antipathy for neoprene, and she was gracious enough to tell us how she parlayed that into a marketable product.
In 2007, in the Maldives, Izabella Meyer fell in love with scuba diving, but one thing didn’t sit right with her — her wetsuit. The neoprene was constricting and smelled terrible, and even worse, it contaminated the environment she was drawn to explore. Not to mention, the design was boring and colorless.
After years of chewing on the problem and trying things like diving in jeans (which prevent little heat loss), she teamed up with fabric engineers to find a solution about eighteen months ago. What they came up with was a trilaminate material — a soft fleece layer next to the skin, followed by a water-repellant membrane, and finished off with recycled polyester. The results ended solving more than just the neoprene issue.
Mermaid Protector wetsuits are neutrally buoyant, quick-drying, machine-washable, and light enough to pack easily into a suitcase. They’re easy to don and doff, comfortable to wear, and hypoallergenic, which is great news for people with rubber allergies. The recycled polyester is totally printable, which means the sky’s the limit as far as design possibilities, and the suits have a strategically-located zipper so you can . . . ahem . . . make water without taking off your entire suit. And once you’ve worn it until it can be worn no more, the Mermaid Protector suit can be recycled all over again! They’re even shipped in reusable polyester mesh bags rather than single-use plastic.
With the neoprene issue all taken care of, Izabella also wanted to address the aesthetics of standard women’s suits. She believes that women like to be unique and express themselves through their apparel, and that divers up to now have been lacking a way to be recognized as divers with their manner of dressing. She feels many may long for a fashion community to do for street clothes what yoga has done for leggings.
Izabella decided to create limited lines, one per season, to keep the inventory fresh and to keep people excited about this new species of wetsuit and inspired by the beauty of the ocean. For further sustainability’s sake, she’s made an effort to keep her designs timeless, so the suit will still look good when next season’s looks are completely different. The 2019 collection was a series of fish skins ranging from simple black scales to the stunning stripes of the Napoleon wrasse.
The 2020 collection is a actually a collaboration with four talented photographers: Ken Kiefer, Manuela Kirschner, George Monteiro and Martin Aigner. The suits are printed with some of the photographers’ best underwater photos, and a portion of the sale of each one goes to the charities each photographer supports.
Mermaid Protector offers more than just wetsuits though: there are hoods and hair tubes, swim suits, rash guards, thigh pouches, leggings, catsuits, sarongs, and even a variety of mermaid full suits with frilly fins. The designs emphasize femininity because as Izabella says, “mermaid” is synonymous with “beautiful lady.” She sees women wearing her suits from the water to the mountains, with fins or high heels.
In the near future, Mermaid Protector is hoping to expand into the USA, so they’re on the lookout for distributors. But in the present, they’re moving their factory to Spain. The upshot is that nothing is available from the website until the inventory has been moved and accounted for. Once it’s back up, look for 50% off the 2019 collection before Christmas, and if you see a skin you like, grab it quick because once they’re gone, they’re gone.
If you’d like to do a little virtual window shopping, check out the Mermaid Protector website and start writing your wish list.