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The whimsical elegance of Vilebrequin | The Press

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The first Vilebrequin boutique in Canada has just opened in Montreal, in Westmount. This French luxury swimwear house, founded in 1971 in Saint-Tropez, is the symbol of relaxed French chic, in a beach version. Interview with Roland Herlory, CEO of Vilebrequin.

Just take a walk on the French beaches to recognize these swimsuits with pretty prints, worn from father to son. The brand has been a reference in France for more than 50 years, but also an international success, because Vilebrequin is present in around sixty countries and, since 2013, has been creating swimwear for women.

A Vilebrequin is a quality jersey, in bright colors and cheerful prints, a jersey made of polyamide, a material that dries quickly and fits well. “I claim that we make the most beautiful jerseys in the world, in terms of quality, durability and comfort, we have unique expertise in the world,” says Roland Herlory, CEO of Vilebrequin, in an interview. The particularity of these jerseys is the very colorful prints. “This whimsical elegance! You can wear gray suits all year round and during the summer, a suit with green elephants on a pink background, and you’re chic! It is the strength of Vilebrequin, the sense of color, the attention to detail that makes fantasy elegant. A very French Riviera and Saint-Tropez elegance. It is this balance that makes the beauty of the jersey. »

  • Ikat Medusa Family Swimsuit, Women's $390, Girls' $195, Boys' $185, Men's $370

    Photo courtesy of Vilebrequin

    Ikat Medusa Family Swimsuit, Women’s $390, Girls’ $195, Boys’ $185, Men’s $370

  • We often see, on the beaches, the father and the son wearing the same Vilebrequin jersey.  Round of turtles swimsuit, multicolored, men, $370, and boys, $185.

    Photo courtesy of Vilebrequin

    We often see, on the beaches, the father and the son wearing the same Vilebrequin jersey. Round of turtles swimsuit, multicolored, men, $370, and boys, $185.

  • One-piece swimsuit, $390

    Photo courtesy of Vilebrequin

    One-piece swimsuit, $390

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The little story of the creation of Vilebrequin makes you smile. In 1971, Fred Pryskel, a journalist passionate about Formula 1, was in love with Yvette, who lived in Saint-Tropez. He wanted to seduce her, but refused to wear the swimming trunks that were fashionable at the time. He then created swimming shorts. “He had traveled a lot, in Australia, in California, and he was inspired by surfers. He had this great curiosity, and 50 years later, Vilebrequin is the world benchmark for swimwear! “says Roland Herlory.

And why Vilebrequin? “Auto racing was Fred Pryskel’s passion. The wrought iron staircase of the Saint-Tropez boutique evokes the shape of a crankshaft, a part that is at the heart of a car’s engine. It’s the most anti-marketing name! Nobody knows what it is and almost every country in the world doesn’t know how to pronounce it,” he laughs. Over time, the turtle became the brand’s emblem. “I love turtles, they swim elegantly, they have a slowness that suits us! »

Vilbrequin know-how

The other particularity of Vilebrequin is the quality of the product. Roland Herlory can talk for hours about the brand’s craftsmanship, as each jersey takes 32 steps to make, from printing the prints to weaving and assembly, not to mention the detail of the jersey’s back pocket. “We work with printers in France and Italy, there is a precision of the line and the density of the colors, it’s unheard of”, he explains. He adds that eyelets placed on the back of the jersey ensure water escape and avoid ballooning, and the placement of the back pocket is fine-tuned so there is no out of the drawing, everything is aligned. “All these details give a look and make the product beautiful. »

Does the shirt last a lifetime? “Yes, for me, quality is true ethics. True eco-responsibility is the durability of a product. When you buy a shirt that may be more expensive than the others, it’s because it’s of superior quality and will last,” said the CEO, who said that in 2023, 100% jerseys (today it’s 85%) will be made from recycled materials.


Photo Olivier Amsellem, provided by Vilebrequin

Roland Herlory, CEO of Vilebrequin

Roland Herlory tells the anecdote of a young American met in Los Angeles who knew Vilebrequin, because he collected all his grandfather’s jerseys! “Our swimsuits carry the memory of holidays, of happy times. I want your swimsuit to last a lifetime, because when you open your drawer and see your swimsuit, you have the memory of the holidays! »

In 2012, Vilebrequin was bought by the American group G-III Apparel, and that’s when Roland Herlory was appointed CEO after spending 23 years at Hermès.

“Luxury is creativity and great know-how. Everything I learned at Hermès, I try to transcribe in a different universe, but quality and durability are the common points”, concludes Roland Herlory, delighted that for the French brand, Vilebrequin’s first store in Canada is in Montreal.



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