Kids now have a new way of living out their mermaid dreams.
The MerFin, a rubber monofin shaped like a mermaid's tail, is going down a treat with children, especially among those in primary and secondary school.
It has made such a splash that its creators will soon release a range of larger sizes for adults who want to use it to keep fit. The first shipment is expected to arrive tomorrow.
First launched in Australia in 2011, the MerFin was developed by Mahina Mermaid, which produces a line of mermaid-themed products and is founded by freelance mermaid performer Kazzie Mahina.
The gold-flecked MerFin is strapped onto the feet and gives kids the thrill of pretending they are the mythical creature.
It was initially sold through the website, www. mahinamermaid.com, and soon gained popularity via social media.
It is now sold in more than 60 countries.
Shops here began selling the fins in January, says Ms Kristen Romain, 40, owner of Swish Swimming, the sole distributor of MerFin here. She declines to give figures, but says the initial batches have sold out.
Currently, 11 retailers here sell the fins.
The Children's Showcase, which stocks toys, clothes and knick-knacks from international brands, says it sells up to 20 pieces of MerFin a week in each of its three outlets in Cluny Court, PasarBella and Tanglin Mall.
Customers are mostly girls aged between five and 14, says Ms Victoria Maan, 31, a shop assistant. She adds that some adults buy the monofin, too, if the size fits.
The MerFin, which retails at $139, comes in two colours - coral and aqua. The adult sizes will cost $159.
Currently, the sizes range from extra small (European size 30), which can fit a six-year-old, to large (European size 40), which can fit teenagers and petite adults.
The novelty item became popular among the expatriate community here and is now making waves among Singaporeans too.
"Most of our customers are Europeans who are familiar with the product and brand, but more Singaporeans are inquiring about it," says Ms Fion Yeong, 40, a manager at Liferacer. The swimwear shop with outlets in Kallang Leisure Park and Bukit Panjang Plaza sells at least 10 pieces of the MerFin a month.
While expatriates used to make up almost 90 per cent of MerFin customers, retailers say the figure has dipped to 75 per cent as more Singaporeans buy it too.
The MerFin is more expensive than most monofins, which usually cost less than $100, because of its design and materials - it is made from recycled rubber and adorned with gold flecks. But some parents consider it money well spent.
"It keeps the kids happy in the water and gets them to exercise more as it gets them more excited to swim," says Mrs Jacinta Rowe, 41, a marketing and communications director. The Singaporean bought a MerFin for her daughter Zoe three months ago.
The seven-year-old, who likes Ariel from The Little Mermaid animated film, enjoys swimming once a week with the fin in their condominium pool.
Five-year-old Lucy Meyer, who has been swimming with the MerFin since January, has also been coming up with new mermaid manoeuvres.
"I can dive and flip with both legs together and glide through the water like a mermaid," says the Singaporean.
Some adults cannot wait to take a dip with the MerFin.
Ms Romain says: "We have had many women ask us for an adult fin - many want to get their core muscles back into shape after they have had children."
Swimming with a monofin works the core muscles and can give a "noticeably trimmer tummy within a few weeks of regular use", she adds.
Swish Swimming plans to launch MerFit, a swimming class that involves training with the MerFin, and 12 people have signed up for a trial lesson so far.
This will take place on Saturday, and Swish Swimming is in talks with The British Club to conduct classes there in future.
Besides adult sizes and a new colour, an orange shade called sunset, Mahina Mermaid will also introduce matching swimwear to complete the mermaid fantasy. This range, which features matching bikini and leggings sets, will be launched in September and will offer kids' sizes for boys and girls.
A spokesman for Mahina Mermaid tells SundayLife! in an e-mail: "Kazzie always dreamt of being a mermaid and used to tie her legs together so she could pretend to swim like one."
"She wanted to bring mermaiding to the masses and matching swimwear completes the experience," he adds.
This article was published on May 18 in The Straits Times.
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