Wetwear was established in North Miami, Florida in 1976 selling stock and custom wet suits exclusively to dive shops. During this time, all US wet suit manufacturers used Rubatex neoprene in the construction of their wet suits. Beginning in 1980 wetsuits made of press-cured neoprene blended with SBR imported from Taiwan started to appear in the California market. Since this type of neoprene is much less expense than Rubatex neoprene, US manufacturers began to lose market share. Shortly, several manufacturers such as Bluewater Wet Suits and Sea Suits went out of business due to the imports. Wetwear was also losing market share. A decision had to be made.
Founded in 1982
Wetwear moved to Dania, in Broward County, Florida. Gene, joined by wife Connie, decided opened a dive shop and wet suit manufacturing facility under the names Aquatic Divers and Aquatic Fabricators. They continued to sell to dive shops but now also sold directly to the public in the South Florida area. The manufacturing stock and custom wet suits was still the primary focus. The dive shop was opened to subsidize their income during the summer months. Several instructors were employed at the shop and attended to the customers while Gene managed the dive shop, drafted patterns and oversaw the production of wet suits. The dive shop, wet suit manufacturing combination proved to be very successful.
After a decade of running the dive shop and making wet suits, a decision was made to focus solely on wet suits. The dive shop was sold off in November 1991 and Aquatic Fabricators moved to its current location in the neighboring town of Hallandale, on Interstate 95 at Hallandale Beach Boulevard. Gene and Connie continued to market their suits to the public under the name Aquatic Wetsuits. They also began marketing to public safety (police and fire rescue), military and commercial divers.
Making wetsuits is our business. It is not a part-time business for us, nor a hobby, nor are we order takers for the real manufacturer in another state. We are the manufacturer. Since 1976, we have made wetsuits in our own manufacturing facilities, just a few feet away from the retail showroom. You can see more of our store here. Meanwhile, you can see the manufacturing end on this page.
In 1995 after testing imported neoprene and Rubatex neoprene in a pressure chamber an interesting discovery was made. The imported neoprene lost half or more of its’ thickness in the second atmosphere. The imported neoprene continued to lose thickness as it was taken deeper. The Rubatex neoprene lost very little thickness even when taken to depths of 140 feet. This discovery led to a new adventure in marketing.
After reestablishing the Wetwear name, Gene and Connie created their first web site dealing directly with the public; much like our store does for local and visiting customers. We now sell our wet suits all over the world from Europe to the Far East. Gene and Connie reinforce their web site by traveling to Scuba Diving Consumer Shows and Public Safety Conferences from coast to coast to meet their customers
Wetwear supplies suits to movie production companies, advertising production companies, stage plays including Mama Mia, theme parks and resorts. Gene also creates proto-type products for other companies ranging from orthopedic applications to neoprene covers for anything from animals to iPods.
Wetwear continues to sell its high quality products to a small group of knowledgeable retail dive shops. We welcome all retail dive shop owners looking for high quality custom wet suits for the active sport and technical dives to contact us.
Today, we primarily operate under the name Wetwear
Although we are still known as Aquatic Wetsuits to our customers in South Florida. We are a family business taking pride in the quality of our products and satisfying our customer. Whether you stop by our store, shop by phone, mail, fax, e-mail or see us at a show, you will receive the same service and quality products If you plan on being in South Florida, please stop in for a visit we would love to see you..
Below are pictures of most of the steps in the making of a custom wetsuit order. After a pattern is drafted on heavy craft paper, the pattern is transferred to the neoprene by tracing with a chalk pencil. The pieces are then cut, smaller pieces glued, pressed together and sewn with blind stitches, first on one side, then the other. The binding is sewn on the appropriate edges (like ankle and wrist openings, collars, and zipper flap edges. The remaining major pieces are glued and sewn together, zippers are sewn in, and a wetsuit has been created.
We’re located right next to I-95 (on the west side) just south of the Hallandale Beach Boulevard exit. If you are coming from east of I-95 on Hallandale Beach Boulevard, turn left (south) at the very first traffic light (before the railroad tracks) into the shopping center with the Discount Auto Parts and follow the road to our shop. If you are coming from the west, turn right into the shopping center after you cross the tracks.