Hamptons-based brand Shoshanna celebrates 20 years of swim.
Hamptonite Shoshanna Gruss.
Frustrated at not being able to find a swimsuit that fit her naturally petite-yet curvy figure, Shoshanna Gruss was inspired to launch a line of fashion-forward swim separates that would soon forever change the industry. Fast-forward to today and the Hamptonite is celebrating two decades of swimming success. We checked in with the Sag-based beauty for the scoop.
What inspired you to launch a swim line? This will be our 20th year. It was a natural evolution from the dresses and because, in fact, I had actually wanted to start making lingerie when I was growing up. It was very, very hard for me to find anything that was appropriate or fit me. I was a size 2 or 4—but super curvaceous as a young teen up, and clothing just did not fit me or did not fit me well... or did not look appropriate. I was young and wasn’t embarrassed of my body. I did not like it. I was just kind of broken-hearted, but nothing fit me. At the time swim lines were sold as a set. There was a small, medium, large. So even if I did find the top to fit me, I would have to buy the extra large of the top—and another suit that had a small bottom... or discreetly swap them in the dressing room. It was kind of insane to me, and I found it sort of offensive. When I launched my swim lime, I insisted the pieces be separates. I started doing an A through triple D in the top and petite through extra large in the bottom because I wanted to be inclusive of as many sizes as I could—and that’s what the line was always about. That was what inspired me to start the line—my own body.
Shoreline Border long-sleeve rash guard.
How has the industry changed? I think the landscape has changed and there’s a lot more fashion in it. Certainly there’s a lot more global brands now from South America, which are super sexy and super fun. It was just a much smaller market, and it wasn’t really that exciting. There were no fashion brands... and then over the next few years, everyone [made] an attempt at it. A lot of them did one or two seasons and fell away. Now [swimwear] has so much space in the department stores and there’s specialty stores like Everything But Water. Cover-ups have evolved so much—the whole thing. In the last 20 years, it’s a completely different market and it’s much more about fashion. At the time [I launched], it was a couple of bikinis in polka dots or stripes. I remember when we did the cherry; that was our first print. It was like a little piece of fabric I found and they’re like, ‘You’re going to have to order a thousand yards,’ and I was like, ‘I feel really confident.’ We ended up selling every single bit of it and reordering the fabric that first season. Now there’s different trims and belts and sleeves and off-the-shoulder, and we’re doing a ton of one-shoulder.
What looks will we never see in your line? I think the one thing you’ll never see in my line is a boy short. I just think it’s such a hard look to wear. We do a high-waisted brief, but that look where it sort of cuts you off in the middle and then right under the bum—it’s very unflattering, right? An almost impossible look unless you’re like a preteen.
Watercolor Chevron Harbor dress.
How do you try to represent all body types? There is a trend toward body positivity, which I think is amazing. I felt so isolated from fashion. I’m 5-foot-3 and have a super curvy body. That is not something that you see when you think of fashion. I felt very ignored by a lot of designers, and now I look at a fashion show and there’s still the exact same models, but then they throw in one big girl. And that’s supposed to make it all better, which I still find offensive. It really is not representative of women. I think there’s still a long way to go with that. But that’s why we started shooting a lot of the clothes on me [during the pandemic]. We couldn’t do shoots in the showroom and actually had a great response because I think there’s a certain person that can relate to me.
What’s the most important thing when you’re shopping for a swimsuit? I think it’s similar to lingerie, you know; you have to be able to move—especially with swimwear. You have to make sure that you stay in it—that you’re comfortable... Think about what you’re going to be doing. There’s just so much product that there’s going to be the right suit for you out there. You just have to try it on. Most companies make it super easy to return, so just try lots of different things.
What accessories do you love for the beach? I love Ray-Ban, like classic Ray-Ban Wayfarers, and I have a ton of colors too. And just a regular straw hat. Hat Attack makes some amazing hats. And usually I’ll throw on one of our cover-ups in like dresses. I like a one-piece cover-up. You kind of seem pulled together even if you’re not.
Isla Dream long-sleeve rash guard, all Shoshanna at shoshanna.com.
Where do you enjoy the water in the Hamptons? We live on the bay in Sag Harbor, which is my absolute favorite kind of water. I love to crab, clam and fish. We have one of those huge nets where we catch fish, and with my son—we each grab a side. It’s called a seine. We catch fish and minnows, and all sorts of fun stuff, and then throw them back like two seconds later. But it’s so much fun. My kids surf… and then we’ll water ski, tube, fish. We’re in the water from morning till night. That’s what we do. We like being out, enjoying nature and getting in bed with sand in between our toes. And that’s why I love it out here so much. It’s such a special place.
What is up next for the brand? Two years ago, we started using sustainable swimwear—so we’re trying to do the entire collection next year. In general, we’re trying to move forward with more sustainability with the brand. We only cut what we sold—which I have always felt strongly about since the beginning. I just feel better about not overproducing.
Photography by: PORTRAIT BY YUMI MATSUO/COURTESY OF SHOSHANNA, PHOTO BY ASULPRUSIA/COURTESY OF SHOSHANNA