Neoprene first appeared as a wearable garment in the 1950s, when twin brothers-slash-surfing buddies Bob and Bill Meistrell discovered it would keep them warm in the water. They started a Southern California shop called Dive N’ Surf and the modern neoprene wet suit was born.
The brothers later created Body Glove, which surged in popularity in the ‘80s with neon sportswear—swimsuits, sports bras, accessories, and more. In the '80s, sportswear started creeping into streetwear and neoprene moved from water to land. Nike pushed innovation in sneaker design by incorporating neoprene into shoe uppers. The material takes color well, too, perfect for those lime greens and magentas. In the '90s, DKNY was one of the first fashion labels to start playing around with the fabric in sleek miniskirts and dresses.
Balenciaga started experimenting with the fabric in 2004, as did Alexander McQueen. By 2013, designers like Aussie Dion Lee were pushing the boundaries for what neoprene could be.