SYDNEY — Surf’s up for Dion Lee, who is launching an 18-piece wetsuit capsule with Australian surfboard maker Haydenshapes.
Launching on Tuesday, the 18-piece Haydenshapes Rubber by Dion Lee collection will bow at Ssense, dionlee.com, haydenshapes.com and Lee’s stand-alone stores in Australia and the U.S. The collection’s hero products are core performance wetsuits for men and women, made from nonpetroleum-based rubber derived from limestone that’s manufactured by the Osaka-based Yamamoto company and is much softer than traditional neoprene. There is also a modular range of limestone neoprene bodysuits, crop tops, shorts and leggings that can be mixed and matched.
As teased via a handful of early prototypes that appeared in Lee’s spring 2023 collection shown at New York Fashion Week last September, a third of the collection was designed to cross over into ready to wear. But the collection’s fashion touches — which include corsetry detailing, a Dion Lee signature — have also been designed and tested to be fully functional in surfing, a first for the surf world, according to Haydenshapes. Founded in the Sydney suburb of Mona Vale in 1997 by Hayden Cox at age 15, Haydenshapes is noted for its FutureFlex patented parabolic carbon fiber frame surfboard construction and today sells surfboards in more than 70 countries.
Prices of the capsule range from $250 for a women’s long-sleeved bolero up to $690 for the full-length women’s and men’s “steamer” wetsuits. Another of Lee’s signatures, the so-called “braided spine” braided cutout detailing that has become a hallmark of his tailoring, has also been incorporated into several “Aqualung” pieces that feature gill-like features.
“I’ve always been fascinated with wetsuiting; reinterpreting and manipulating neoprene in my collections,” said Lee, a keen surfer who grew up in Sydney. “Working with Hayden on this project came together organically and I believe we were able to present a product that delivers both in design and performance.”
A second drop scheduled for later in the year will see wetsuits that incorporate a new four-way stretch merino wool lining that that has been developed between Haydenshapes and The Woolmark Company.
The Dion Lee collaboration is by no means Haydenshapes’ first fashion foray.
In 2014, Cox created surfboard installations for Alexander Wang’s New York and Tokyo flagships. In August 2022, Cox branched out into contemporary men’s ready-to-wear via a 35-piece capsule collection that was launched on Mr Porter. In December, Haydenshapes then partnered with the Woolmark Company on the release of a nine-piece men’s capsule collection featuring merino wool.
“Our approach in launching wetsuits wasn’t to adopt the current format and apply our logos,” said Cox. “I feel like our audience appreciates the unique lens we bring to what we do and detail we like to go to with construction and material. Working with a designer like Dion Lee, who is one of the most innovative minds in architectural fashion tailoring and who also has a deep history and understanding of working with neoprene, is a true contribution to the wetsuit space. That’s something I always try to achieve when it comes to collaboration, honoring our core surf brand DNA whilst at the same time presenting a new idea and approach on how performance surf products can be designed and made.”