Paul Naude: Dior x Vissla Collab “Good for the Surf Industry”
Dior and Vissla’s wetsuits – which come in a navy and gray print – were released this month, marking the first time the two have worked together.
“It’s always a positive for the surf industry at large when one of the world’s top brands gets involved with a surf company,” Vissla founder and CEO Paul Naude said. “I think it endorses our efforts when these types of collaborations take place.”
The wetsuits, produced in small batches by hand in Japan, are made from a proprietary quick-drying upcycled jersey fabric, recycled thermal liner, and Japanese foam. They retail for $3,300, which is about three to four times the typical price of a Vissla wetsuit. The collaboration also includes a wetsuit jacket, which is priced at $2,450.
“What’s really interesting about it is the level of detail that those couture brands put into product,” Naude said. “It’s really staggering and was a great learning curve.”
The learning went both ways.
Naude said Dior cold-called Vissla looking to collaborate on bespoke wetsuits, saying they had found the brand online.
Dior sent a team out to work with Vissla Vice President of Design Rob McCarty about a year ago to begin the process of designing and developing the pieces.
“Rob McCarty did a tremendous amount of work and we had to educate them from start to finish on a wetsuit, what can and can’t be done, what can and can’t be produced,” Naude said. “It’s not a normal fabric. It doesn’t have the same level of flexibility. I think it was a learning curve on both sides.”
That the two will work together on another round of wetsuits shows “they must have been happy” with the initial work, Naude added.
“It’s not often that one of the world’s greatest luxury fashion brands reaches out because they admire products we create at Vissla,” McCarty said in a statement. “This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I set out to collaborate and design the finest handmade surfing wetsuits in the world for Dior. It’s all about the team. We created wetsuit designs with the right fit, function, and materials. The Dior design team styled it as only a French fashion brand could, and our expert manufacturing partner Axxe produced each wetsuit by hand to perfection in their facility in Japan.”
The wetsuits are part of Dior’s Beach Capsule, which spans apparel, accessories, and other brand collaborations. That includes pants and shorts made in partnership with the environmental non-profit Parley for the Oceans and a surfboard developed with French brand Notox. The board’s made from upcycled polyurethane foam and low solvent epoxy resin.
The recently released Beach Capsule marks the second year Dior Men’s Artistic Director Kim Jones has collaborated with Parley for the Oceans as Dior works to incorporate more sustainable materials into its collections.
The two began research in 2019 that has yielded upcycled yarns and fabrics used in some of the pieces in the capsule.
Kari Hamanaka can be reached at email@example.com.