Are Vilebrequin swim trunks worth the premium price tag? Here’s my honest, hands-on review.
Most guys will never spend more than $25 on a pair of swimming shorts, and I think that’s perfectly reasonable.
If you’re reading this, however, you’re willing to spend a bit more on premium quality, luxury swim trunks.
You’ve searched for luxury swimwear brands, and you keep hearing about Vilebrequin.
Is Vilebrequin a good brand? Are their swim trunks worth the money? Are any swim trunks worth almost $200 or more?
Here are my thoughts after wearing a pair of Vilebrequin Flat Belt Trunks for a couple of months.
Vilebrequin was founded in the early 1970s by a French couple name Yvette and Fred. The name means “crankshaft” in French (Fred was into Formula 1 racing).
The young couple ran their growing swimwear brand for about 20 years before selling it to a larger company in 1992.
In 2012, a large apparel conglomerate with luxury and mass market experience acquired Vilebrequin. Shortly thereafter, they launched a women’s line.
Since then, the company supported various social and environmental initiatives, such as Te Mana O Te Moana (saving sea turtles) and RED (fighting AIDS).
They’ve also expanded into other apparel categories like shirts, pants, outerwear and accessories.
For reference, I’m about 5’6” with shoes on and 125 lbs soaking wet. I usually wear XS tops and 28×28 slim fit pants.
Vilebrequin Swim Trunks
At the time of writing, Vilebrequin sells six different styles of men’s swim trunks:
- The Classic – elastic drawstring waist; 15.6″ length
- Ultra-Light – elastic drawstring waist; 15.5″ length
- The Long – elastic drawstring waist; 19″ length
- The Short – elastic drawstring waist; 12.2″ length
- Swim Briefs – elastic drawstring waist; high shaped cut
- The Flat Belt – snap button waist (hidden drawstring); 13.9″ length
I love swim trunks that fit and look more like regular shorts. For example, I prefer a zip fly and hidden drawstring over a velcro fly and external drawstring.
So, I chose Vilebrequin’s Flat Belt Trunks because they seemed similar to to my trusty old Orlebar Brown Bulldogs (I’ll compare these two brands below).
They’re also cut to an ideal length for my legs. Speaking of which, let’s talk about the fit.
Vilebrequin Swim Trunks Fit
I like swim trunk to be somewhat fitted around my leg, just like my chino shorts.
I think this is a more flattering look, and if the fabric has some stretch built in – these have 5% elastane – you don’t have to sacrifice any comfort.
While many trunks are low rise and end up falling down to your hips, I prefer more of a mid rise. I find this to be way more comfortable, especially when swimming.
And, of course, swim trunks should hit at least a couple inches above the knee. After all, real men prefer short shorts 😉
In terms of fit, these Vilebrequin Flat Belt Trunks check all the right boxes.
Details & Quality
One thing that sets higher end swim trunks apart is the inclusion of functional and/or visually interesting details.
These trunks have a few details that I really like:
- Snap button closure
- Zipper fly
- Hidden drawstring
- Velcro flap back pocket
The back pocket is big enough for a wallet and some phones, which is a nice touch (and surprisingly rare).
Between the double button snap closure and hidden drawstring, these trunks feel pretty secure. I love the clean look of the waistband.
The internal mesh netting is soft and comfy, which isn’t always the case with cheaper trunks.
All in all, these are just well made swim trunks. Vilbrequin clearly didn’t skimp on materials or craftsmanship (and for $300, they better not have!).
Vilbrequin vs. Orlebar Brown
When you think of luxury men’s swimwear, Orlebar Brown is usually the first brand that comes to mind.
Their association with the James Bond franchise definitely helps, but to give credit where it’s due, OB makes a great pair of trunks.
I’ve been wearing the same pair of Orlebar Brown Bulldog Sport trunks for a few years now, and they were, by far, the best swim shorts I ever purchased.
But Vilebrequin gives OB a run for its money. I think the Vilebrequin fit is actually slightly better, and the fabric is just as good, maybe even better.
One major detail is the way you tighten your shorts. Orlebar Brown uses side adjusters. These are really useful and comfy, but they create a slightly less clean silhouette.
Bottom line: you really can’t go wrong with either brand. The difference comes down to fit (which is similar), colors and patterns, and details (waistband style, etc.).
Are Vilebrequin Swim Trunks Worth the Price?
I mean, we’re talking about $200+ for a pair of swim trunks. Most men wouldn’t even consider making this purchase.
But if you’re reading this, you’re not most men. You may be willing to pay more for higher quality.
You may want fewer, better things.
I’m right there with you. My OB Bulldogs were the only swim trunks I wore for the past 4+ years. The cost per wear is incredibly low, and I always enjoy wearing them (something I can’t say about cheap H&M trunks).
I’d much rather buy one great pair of swim shorts every few years than replace a cheap pair each summer.
If that resonates with you, I think Vilebrequin is a great choice – possibly even your best option right now.
Questions about Vilebrequin
Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about Vilebrequin:
Why is Vilebrequin so expensive?
The materials, craftsmanship and brand value all contribute to Vilebrequin’s higher prices. They make some of the highest quality swimwear you can find, but (as always) you’re paying a little extra for the brand name.
Where are Vilebrequin products made?
Vilebrequin products are made in Tunisia, Morocco and Europe from mostly European fabrics. The Flat Belt shorts I reviewed were made in Bulgaria.
Does Vilebrequin fit small?
Compared to mass market American brands like Nautica, Vilebrequin runs small. Compared to other designer brands like Orlebar Brown, Vilebrequin is true to size.
How do you wash Vilebrequin swim shorts?
A fresh water rinse after use in the pool or ocean is often enough to keep your trunks clean. When you do put them in the laundry, wash them in cold water (delicate cycle) and let them air dry.
Where does Vilebrequin ship from?
Depends where you live. If you place an order from the United States, your order will be shipped from the U.S.,
Robert Reid says
Hi Brock – I have 8 pairs of Vilebrequin swim shorts and love them. I found them on sale at NM a few years back and thought I’d give one a try…after which I bought a bunch more in a variety of solid colors & some patterns. They are well made and never look worn/ragged. I often wear them as shorts as they are extremely comfortable and can go from day wear to swim wear with zero effort. Paired with a high quality polo and nice sandals (or Converse or Lanvin sneakers), they can’t be beat. I, too, choose the shorter style in a Small (I’m 5’6 and 150’), as they look great and fit perfectly. My personal attitude is to buy the best you can afford and buy once…!
Thanks for sharing your review! I totally agree: buy the best you can afford, and wear it as long as possible.