The beaches within easy reach of most Northern European airports, namely those on the the Côte d’Azur, the Costa Smerelda and the Costa del Sol have for several years been the scene of a particularly charming Father and Son(s) bonding custom – which I am happy to admit my son and I have been part of. The engineer of this pan-European display are the nice people at Vilebrequin.
In 1971 photographer and motor racing enthusiast and Saint Tropez resident, Fred Prysquel, was inspired by the local artists, the light and colour of the Cote d’Azur to sketch a design for a pair of classic swim shorts – known as the “Moorea” cut – that would give birth to the dynamic and iconic brand, Vilebrequin. Curiously, its name is the French word for the “crankshaft” which we understand was inspired by the metal spiral staircase in the first shop to bear its name.
Given the prevalence of sailing in the area, Prysquel decided to use spinnaker sail cloth – noted for its quick during properties and resilient to sun and wind – for his shorts which, since their debut, have featured vibrant colours and maritime patterns. With the success of M Prysquel’s early design the signature and witty sea turtle image has become synoymous with the beaches of the South of France.
The brands fame spread to other European hotspots, becoming essential kit – almost a uniform – for the beach bound “Yuppy” where it would usually be accompanied by a signature and highly waterproof Swiss watch – up to at least 300m – often made by Rolex or Omega Rolex Submariner or Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M Master Co-Axial
In 1991, Loïc Berthet, took over the brand and added new models. The original model was also enhanced by the addition of a over the brand. He further develops the brand by adding a back pocket secured with Velcro with an eyelet “draining” hole and a cotton lining.
As our Yuppy hero grew up he would often confront the challenges of parenthood. Vilebrequin, being savvy to their customer’s circumstances, realized that they could expand their collection and exponentially grow their market by the introduction in 1995 of the matching Father and Son range – with boy’s sizes starting at a minuscule 6 months.
My son and I each had a deep blue pair with curiously stylised wrapped toffees which we adored. His pair were a little large for him when bought so we had several years of seriously cool beach co-ordination!
In a decade from 1990 Vilebrequin opened stores in London, Paris, New York and Madrid with a distribution network in more than 50 countries.
In 2012, Vilebrequin was acquired by US fashion corporation, G-III Apparel Group, Ltd., who, in addition to a drive to expand its operations in the Far East, have extended the range with a “Mother and Daughter” collection.