Dolfin – Anchored in Rich American History

History Feature

Our First Mission…when lives depended on Durability.

In the early days of World War II, the predecessor company to Dolfin was founded as Reading Airchutes Inc. Its mission: manufacture the strongest and most durable cargo and bomb parachutes for the U.S. Army Air Force.


It was a round-the-clock operation, like most war industries. Perhaps its success can best be measured by the fact that, in less than three years, the company went from making nothing to air-dropping the weapons and equipment that led to victory in the Battle of Normandy, the greatest military invasion in history.  In August, 1945, employees of the company were awarded the Army-Navy “E” award in recognition of its production record in support of the war effort.


After the War, the company converted its wartime expertise in sewing nylon and rayon into a civilian application – women’s lingerie. The company created the Jean Vernon brand, which was named after a woman who actually worked for the company and entered the military as a SPAR, where her bravery earned her the first citation to be given to a service woman in the Seventh Naval District.  Known for its high quality and stylish designs, the Jean Vernon line was sold through its own catalog and in department stores nationwide.


The Need for Speed

Looking for new opportunities, in 1958 the company designed and launched a line of nylon racing suits for the competitive swimwear market using the brand name Dolfin. A variation of Dolphin and embodying the aquatic legend, this became the ultimate inspiration behind the iconic logo.


Track and field coaches soon noticed the advantages of the nylon tricot swimsuits and approached the company to begin making lightweight track uniforms for their teams. The ensuing years saw rapid growth for the Dolfin brand swimwear and track wear, so much so that the company officially changed its name to Dolfin Corporation in 1969.


In 1972, American Frank Shorter won the Olympic marathon and the running boom was off and, well, running. The market ramped up steadily and then exploded in 1978. For a time, the Dolfin striped running shorts were a “must have” apparel item for every teenage girl in the country. In addition, fitness guru Richard Simmons famously made these shorts his outfit of choice. The 1980s continued to see Dolfin track and athletic wear thrive nationwide, while the competition swimwear market held pace with the expansion of USA Swimming, thus surpassing the running market in the late 1980s to take its place today as the primary driver of the company’s development.


Winning with High-tech Innovation

In the early 2000s, Dolfin launched what has become the #1 selling practice suit in America – Uglies. Dolfin now holds the industry reputation for the most unique and innovative prints. In addition, retailers support the company because of their strong reputation for manufacturing quality, on-time delivery and competitive pricing.

Today, Dolfin continues to move forward with a new mission that combines high performance, technological superiority and appealing designs for all age groups with the reputation for durability established from day one. That’s why now more and more Olympians and top-level swim coaches are joining the Dolfin team.


For the full timeline and photo vault of Dolfin’s 75 year history, click here.