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Jennifer Dean

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10 Vulcan Lane

Jennifer Godward established her label in 1960 at her kitchen table with her first born, Dean, happily playing under it. A year later she and her then husband Barry opened the Jennifer Dean Boutique on the first floor at 10 Vulcan Lane.

Like many of her contemporaries, this self-taught designer was frustrated with the mainstream fashion offering and set about creating innovative clothing for young, fashionable ‘swinging 60s’ women.

After seeing snappy bikinis being sold like hotcakes in Sydney, Jennifer was inspired to develop her own for her shop. Few other designers were making bikinis at the time and they flew off the shelves as fast as she and her small staff could make them. Crowds would queue on Friday nights to buy her latest itsy-bitsy floral, gingham and (heaven forbid) macramé swimwear creations.

In 1964 she launched the ‘topless bikini’ at her upstairs neighbour’s venue, the Record Loft. Although it was a complete sales flop and in Jennifer’s own words, “a hideous contraption with straps covering the nipples”, it was brilliant brand publicity and even made the evening TV news bulletin.The label soon became so successful that larger premises on the corner of Victoria and High Streets were secured. By 1970 over a third of retail space was devoted to swimwear, which was made in their Chancery Street factory and wholesaled nationwide.

Today, almost 60 years on from its initial success, Jennifer Dean beachwear is still being sold through the Beach Hut stores.

Read more at www.nzfashionmuseum.org.nz/jennifer-dean

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