When you think of “bathing suit material,” what comes to mind is probably synthetic—some stretchy, shiny blend of nylon or polyester with a bunch of Lycra or spandex. But historically, bathing suits were made of natural materials like wool, and despite modern advances in technical fabrics, Merino is a surprisingly awesome choice for swimwear.
A Brief History of Wool for Swimsuits — and Why It’s Due for a Comeback
The earliest bikinis date back to ancient Greek bathhouses  but disappeared for over two thousand years until the 1940s when they came back into fashion and women left behind their “bathing costumes,” which included corsets and shoes. Regardless of the cut, swimsuits were made of a woven woolen material until the 1930s, when manufacturers started adding a bit of silk and elastic. In the 1950s, synthetics came along, and manufacturers started using nylon, lycra, or Spandex thanks to the fabric's ability to stretch—and its low cost to produce. 
As it turns out, wool—specifically Merino wool—is a natural choice for swimwear. Merino stays opaque when wet, plus it’s lightweight and dries quickly, making it a great choice for your health. Merino is also a renewable fiber that's sustainable and helps Mother Earth, who’s struggling under the weight of climate change. But does wool really work as swimwear? We took BRANWYN to the beaches of Puerto Rico to see how it held up in sand, sun, and salt water.
Check out our photo diary to see how it went...
BRANWYN photographer Lane Oliveri has a long list of places on her “to-see” list but always loves returning to Puerto Rico. Before she leaves, she's already planning her next visit.
But there's also plenty of room for quiet contemplation. "Puerto Rico is less geared toward tourism than many other Caribbean islands and I absolutely love that," Lane explains. "It’s less done up, pretentious or pandering."
Lane and Soraya, a local Puerto Rican model, stopped at Playa Loquillo to put BRANWYN to the test while wave riding.
And model Ashley, also from Puerto Rico, took BRANWYN to the beach to see how our underwear doubles as swimwear.
The answer: perfectly. "I was surprised how well the product holds up transitioning from underwear to swimwear, staying up, staying on in the waves, and even the lightest colors did not become transparent when wet," Lane says.
Lane and Ashley hit Playa Vacía Talega, one of Puerto Rico’s magical palm-lined beaches. "Puerto Rico has this amazing unique yellow-gold colored sand, with a soft consistency almost like play dough," Lane says, "And I love how the sand and skin and nude toned Branwyn product create a gorgeous monochrome pallet."
Lane and Soraya adventured to El Yunque, a sacred place in Puerto Rican culture and the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System.
Whether we're scrambling up rocks, swimming or anything in between, BRANWYN keeps us fresh, confident, and free to tackle any adventure.
When swimming and sunbathing in a sacred, natural spot like El Yunque, it makes sense to wear natural, breathable, eco-friendly fabrics like Merino wool.
BRANWYN's Merino pieces are versatile and quick-dry, keeping us fresh so we can effortlessly transition from the beach and rainforest to Kiosko La Comay, one of Lane's favorite food stops on the island.
No swimwear? No problem. You have BRANWYN, and yeah we call it INNERWEAR, but it works equally well for swimwear in every color, every style. Yup, naturally sustainable Merino swimwear—it's definitely a BRANWYN thing.