Historical information

Ada of California was a Melbourne swimwear company founded in the early 1950s by Brighton locals Ada and Toni Murkies.

Born in Poland in 1922, Ada was 17 when the Second World War reached her doorstep. She and her family were torn from their home by Soviet soldiers and sent to a brutal labour camp in Siberia as part of a series of mass deportations. In order to escape the horrific conditions of the camp, Ada and her sister Barbara joined the Soviet-backed Polish Army. During her time in the military she became close with a handsome young Jewish officer, Lieutenant Antoni Murkies, who later became her husband.

After the war Toni was awarded 15 medals including the highest Polish military honour, the Virtuti Militari. Ada was awarded 10 medals, including the Order of the Cross of Grunwald.

Emigrating to Australia as postwar refugees in 1948, Ada and Toni arrived in Melbourne with little to their name. Working initially in garment factories and building their connections, by the mid-1950s the couple were able to start a company of their own, with Ada designing the garments and Toni managing the business. Within ten years, Ada of California swimwear was being sold in department stores throughout Australia, and the Murkies family were able to build a permanent home of their own in Brighton. By the early 1980s they had acquired several other major labels, including Watersun.

This swimsuit is believed to be one of a large quantity of samples, seconds and unsold Ada Productions stock donated to Brighton Historical Society in late 1990 by Brian Samuel, who worked at the company between 1979 and 1990.

Physical description

Pink short-sleeved one-piece swimsuit with silver lamé embellishment. Sweetheart neckline and low-cut back with metal zip. A black and gold swing tag is attached to one sleeve.

Inscriptions & markings

Label in bra: “Ada OF CALIFORNIA / MIRACULOUS s-t-r-e-t-c-h BRI-NYLON / 34”
Swing tag, front: black with gold text and palm tree logo. “Ada / OF CALIFORNIA / ‘Limited Edition’”.
Back: gold with black text. “‘Limited Edition’”.
Interior: “Congratulations on your choice of ADA OF CALIFORNIA ‘Limited Edition” Swimsuit contoured for your discriminating taste. / Style 546 / Size 34 / Price £11.9.6”. Care instructions also included.