It’s an exceedingly tough task asserting your dapper, tasteful rakishness while in the water. You’ve got only two tools at your disposal — your watch, and your swimsuit. We’ll leave it to our sister publication Revolution to provide guidance on suitable authentic diver’s timepieces. When it comes to swim shorts, though, allow us to dispense a little advice.
First up, yes, you most certainly should be wearing shorts. Unless you’re doing some serious speed swim training, Speedo ‘banana hammocks’ have no place gracing a gentleman’s nether regions.
It was distaste for just this sort of revealing swim-brief that led to the creation of what remains the most iconic luxury short on the market, the Vilebrequin. In 1971, Fred Prysquel found himself by the shores of St Tropez, pitching woo to the young lady he’d eventually make his wife. Feeling that the then-dominant Speedo was cramping his style (not to mention his matrimonial accoutrements), using some colourful fabric he’d picked up on his travels to Africa as a motoring journalist, Fred whipped up a pair of more accommodating — if still trim — trunks inspired by the board shorts he’d seen surfers wearing in Southern California.
Fellow denizens of the Côte d’Azur immediately began asking after the innovative, vibrant beachwear, and Fred started making and selling them on request. Before he knew it, he had a business — branded Vilebrequin, the French word for ‘crankshaft’, a cheeky reference to his previous occupation. That label quickly became a byword for Riviera-chic, marking out the wearer as someone ready and willing to pay beaucoup d’argent for beachside attire. When you’re as close to naked as you can be without risking arrest, a pair of Vilebrequins ensures all and sundry remain aware you’re a man of wealth and taste.