by John Russel Jones

There has been a surge of interest in using wool — with its natural performance and sustainability characteristics — in the outdoor and activewear market, but it’s probably been nearly a century since men wore wool swimwear. Always down for experimenting in the name of elegance, French swimwear house Vilebrequin has released a five-piece capsule of immaculately tailored swimsuits in extra-fine Merino wool, its second collaboration with The Woolmark Company.

The new capsule of Woolmark-certified Merino wool trunks belongs to a long tradition of innovation from the brand. Since the early 1970s, Vilebrequin has worked with everything from African wax fabric, sailcloth, and linen. The company brings 50-plus years of tailoring expertise to the swimsuit. Drawing on traditional methods for everything from weaving to pattern cutting and pocket placement, each pair of swim trunks demands an average of 32 steps, for elegance that lasts for years.

To mark Vilebrequin’s second summer with The Woolmark Company, the brand has added two new iconic men’s suiting references to the mix: safari-inspired khaki and the emblematic Prince of Wales check, adding to existing navy, light gray, and classic gingham patterns (Retailing for $270 to $290). Working with renowned Italian wool mill Reda, the brand’s studios selected a non-mulesed Super 120’s Merino cloth. Thanks to its scale-like structure, worsted Merino wool fiber forms a naturally water-friendly, quick-drying shell—especially when woven at higher densities. The suits have an average drying time of five to seven minutes. The suits are also ultra-breathable, moisture-wicking, and thermo-regulating. Merino also delivers unparalleled UV protection.

Vilebrequin CEO Roland Herlory was immediately impressed by Merino wool’s “remarkable quality, and the naturally chic way it hangs on the body! It’s the perfect example of eco-innovation, a fabric that’s both cutting-edge and uniquely elegant.”