Shoshanna Gruss: The Bathing Suit Beauty

by Ashley Baker

Straight from the pages of The Daily Summer…fashion impresario Shoshanna Gruss makes some of the best bikinis on the market—all of which she test-drives on the beaches near her home base in Sag Harbor. Now a brand ambassador for Elizabeth Arden and a collaborator with Club Monaco, Gruss’ singular sensibility is finding an audience far beyond the East End and her native New York City.

How long have you been coming to the Hamptons?
My entire life! When I was a little girl, my parents had a house in Westhampton. As an adult, I got my first house in Water Mill, and then we moved to East Hampton before ending up at our current place in Sag Harbor.
What are your favorite childhood memories?
A bunch of my friends from the city came here, too, and we were water babies—we boogie boarded, surfed, and played in the ocean all day. It was pretty awesome. We went everywhere within biking distance!
What’s so special about the East End?
I’ve been fortunate to travel the world with my family, and the beaches here are some of the most beautiful ones the world has to offer. The ocean is really manageable, and the bays are amazing, too—every water sport is available. I know there are complaints about the traffic, but when you think about how close and convenient it really is, compared to a tropical vacation… I’m pretty much a homebody when I’m out here. I tend to really enjoy the topography of the land and water and be active in that way. I stay away from the town life, unless I’m going to dinner or the movies.
What are some of your rituals now that you have a family?
My two-year-old twins just started swimming this week on their own, which is incredible. My older girl is 10, and I love taking her to the beaches, catching crabs, and going paddleboarding. We play a lot of tennis, and I just started surfing lessons. I try to have a couple of hours to just hang out at the house, reading and laughing. We do a lot of arts and crafts, too. Yesterday, we made friendship bracelets. I’m so grown up in some ways, but I still really enjoy some of the things that I did as a child. I credit that to my parents for giving me such an awesome upbringing. I want to re-create a lot of those memories for my kids.
Okay, back to work—how long have you been in business?
November 1998 was my first resort collection, so 18 years.
How many swimsuits have you made in that time?
Thousands! I saved just one of each, and I have boxes and boxes. This season, we have 70 styles in the rotation. It’s a lot!
How has swimwear technology changed since you’ve been in business?
When I first started out, there was a very low option of sizing—everything was sold as a set, and there were no separates. I used to have all my suits custom-made, because nothing fit me! I was very curvaceous when I was really young, and there were no options at all. When I started the line, it was very important for me to offer a wide range of sizes and to sell all the suits as separates. Because you would never buy your lingerie as a set, right? So the line was a big hit, and now almost every swim line sells their tops and bottoms as separates. But we’ve never stopped making sure the fit is right, and we continue to celebrate women and think about all our different body types while trying to make beautiful, wearable swimsuits and clothes.
How long have you been collaborating with Club Monaco?\
This is our second season. It’s so nice to have that platform to work with, and I admire them so much. It’s flattering that they asked me to make suits rather than doing them themselves! I really stick to universally popular fits and styles. I want to make sure I’m reaching as many people as I can. Working with people who know what they’re doing is a lot of fun.
What kind of work are you doing as a brand ambassador for Elizabeth Arden?
First of all, I’m very honored to work with such an iconic brand. We’ve worked on color pads and color stories, and I’m doing my third “gift with purchase” bag. It’s a global project that’s done really, really well. It’s been great for me to meet all these managers and stores from around the world, and to hear what women are interested in. Print-wise, they let me go wild with color and style. That’s why I like designing swimwear so much. There’s more free space to play. You don’t have to worry as much about what’s happening in the market with trends, and that’s sort of how it has been with Elizabeth Arden. It’s been so much fun.
How does your beauty routine change in the summer?
Well, I’m in the pool and in the water a lot more, but I still wear mascara during the day. I’m really good at swimming, and even surfing, with my mascara! I have more beach hair, although there are still products involved. I’m very low-maintenance, and my skin care is focused on sunblock. Even though I know I’m not supposed to, I do get a little bit of a tan.
Do you have any summer travel plans?
Although my twins are two of the most fun people I’ve ever encountered, traveling is not yet their strong suit, so I’m going to stick around here. Traveling just shortens the summer! I’m looking forward to a nice, long, relaxing mellow season out here with my family. I know it’s not even halfway over yet, but I’m already stressing. I don’t want it to end!

To read the full July 4th issue click HERE

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