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ONeill was a hardcore surfer who didnt let the freezing cold waters of Californias North Bay cramp his style. At a time when
surf wear meant a pair of inferior surf trunks, or maybe an oiled wool sweater in a desperate attempt to keep from hypothermia,
ONeill defeated the daunting icy waters. ONeill struggled to find
a way to insulate surfers so that they could surf from dawn till dusk. He found that answer in neoprene, a thick open-cell
foam material that was currently a floor padding for aircraft. Jack made the first primitive wetsuit in his newly opened surf
shop in 1952. The first suits were only glued-together vests, but history was made, and surfers scrambled for the new product.
Surfing exploded with the advent of beach movies like Gidget and the
Beach Party series. Thanks to the wetsuit, the allure of surf and sand could now be enjoyed even in colder climes, cementing
Jack ONeill as a godfather of California surfing. ONeills entire family
got into the surf business, and in the late 70s and 80s, a whole new generation was stoked for surfing, and ONeill was there.
You didnt have to be a surfer to wear ONeill, as the company expanded beyond wetsuits to put their name on all forms of athletic
apparel. Although the surf craze faded, ONeill remains a top competitor in extreme sports apparel.