What do Gwyneth Paltrow, Naomi Campbell and Kaia Gerber have in common? They’re all fans of JADE Swim. The US-based swimwear brand has garnered an A-list following – and fashion insider approval – thanks to its minimal and versatile block-coloured designs.
The mastermind behind it is former fashion editor and stylist Brittany Kozerski. Following a prestigious magazine career working for titles including Vogue, ELLE and Marie Claire, Michigan-born Brittany launched JADE Swim in 2016. Her pared-back aesthetic translates into perfectly executed, clean silhouettes (the brand name is inspired by the perfect cut of gemstones), designed to function as both swimwear and luxe layering pieces. Take suits on holiday for the pool or wear them in the city under smart separates.
Formerly based in New York, Brittany now lives in Palm Beach, Florida, with her husband and 18-month-old daughter. We caught up over the phone to talk more about her pivot from editor to entrepreneur and why, when it comes to swimwear, less is always more.
Before founding JADE Swim, you were a magazine editor. What prompted the move into swimwear?
As a fashion editor I saw a lack in the market. Whenever I needed a minimal block-coloured swimsuit for trend pages or a layering piece for a cover shoot, I couldn’t find it – that brand didn’t exist. Personally I didn’t have a go-to swimwear brand, either. Every time I went on vacation, I’d end up pulling a little bit from here and there, so I wanted to create a brand that I would gravitate towards.
When you launched the brand, you were working full-time at Marie Claire. How did you juggle the two?
Honestly, it was a complete blur. I would work all day, then find as much free time as I could outside of working hours, so there were a lot of late nights. My production is in LA and the time difference meant that when I ended my workday it was only 2pm there, which helped tremendously. It was pretty wild, but I didn’t want to let my full-time job suffer.
What advice would you give to others launching a brand?
Just to start it. When I was launching JADE Swim, I signed up for an exclusive trade show in Miami Swim Week, so that I had a concrete deadline. If I’d waited until I had everything perfectly planned, I don’t think I would have ever launched. You’re never going to have all of the answers and you’re never going to know exactly what to do in every situation; it’s just starting and allowing it to snowball. It’s easy to look at brands and feel intimidated, but we’re all just trying to figure it out.
When buying a forever swimsuit, what are the essential features to look for?
I always stress the lining. It’s a more technical part of the suit but every consumer can easily spot it. We line the inside of the swimsuit with the same material as the outside and this gives a shaping and sculpting effect. We don’t have a lot of hardware, padding or boning because the double lining creates the silhouette. Most of the swimwear market uses a thinner lining material, and that’s when you see suits that don’t shape the body.
Trusting intuition, my intuition. That was really important for me…
What would we find in your holiday suitcase?
Most of my case is filled with swimsuits. The night before a trip, I go to the office and pull lots of styles, but I always have our bestseller, the Yara one-piece, in a few different colours. It’s great for tanning, or to throw on with shorts and a shirt. It’s a real day-to-day swimsuit. I’m an over-packer; I recently went on a three-day trip and took two suitcases. I’ve spent years editing, so on vacation, I want to have all of the options. I’ve learned the hard way what it’s like when you don’t have the right pieces. It pays to always be prepared.
Where is your all-time favourite beach destination?
The Maldives. There’s no place like it; the beautiful hotels with the private pools where you can jump straight into the ocean, which is crystal clear. It’s such an exotic getaway. I got engaged there, so it also has a personal memory attached. Living in Florida, the beach is always here, so the vacations I now crave have a little bit more to them in terms of excitement and mystery.
Do you have any travel plans for the summer?
I’ve just come back from Mexico. I stayed at the Rosewood Mayakoba, just outside of Tulum. Later this summer, I’m hoping to go to Ibiza for a week – the calm version!
What’s next for JADE Swim?
We’re launching cover-ups for next spring. For swimwear to be minimal is one thing, but to go into the ready-to-wear market and have something that is so clean and simple but still does the job, it has to be beyond perfection.
What’s been the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in running a business?
Trusting intuition my intuition. That was really important for me because I knew about fashion and I had a point of view on style, but I didn’t know the technical side of the swimwear business, which is 90 per cent of it. When I was talking to factory owners and pattern makers who have been doing it for decades, it took a lot of work to believe in my ideas and try new things. It’s easy to get swayed by outside opinions, but when you’re learning as you go, you have to stay true to what you believe in. I kept the brand a secret from everyone apart from my husband and parents. All of those decisions where I could have leaned into someone else’s perspective, I’m so glad I didn’t.
When did you become interested in fashion and design?
I was around 12 when I started asking my parents to buy fashion magazines, which I covered my bedroom in. Two of my walls were magazine covers and the other two were advertising campaigns. Looking back, it was literally the story of my career – half magazines and half brand. I went to a private school that didn’t have fashion classes on the curriculum, so I asked one of my teachers if we could do an independent study where we critiqued a fashion shoot – that class is still part of the curriculum today. Around that time, [reality TV show] Project Runway launched. It was the first opening up of the fashion industry, certainly in America, and that’s when I really started to get into it. I went to the University of Michigan, and during the summers I interned and did classes at FIT [Fashion Institute of Technology] and Parsons School of Design. Fashion is a passion, but I’ve tried to be as educated as I can in it.
What was the first swimsuit you created?
It was the Trophy one-piece and I created it for every possible use: for swimming, as a bodysuit, and for yoga and dance workout classes. It’s been our staple and we now have it with different strap styles and in different colours and fabrications. It’s the physical archetype of the line; clean, simple and designed with multi-use functionality in mind.
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
I really love to pull from ’70s ready-to-wear. A lot of our styles, especially the one-pieces, are inspired by Halston silhouettes – minimal but with something to make them unique. Our ruching styles really show this. When I worked at Condé Nast, we could go down to the library where there were archives of the magazines and old fashion ads. I’ve always loved to be inspired by that.
Sustainability is a core part of the brand; all styles are OEKO-TEX certified and you use ECONYL, a regenerated fabric made from waste plastic. Can you tell us more about how a sustainable mindset informs how you operate?
When we started the brand in 2016, the first fabric vendor I used was a recycled-materials company. I remember going to Miami Swim Week when we launched and thinking everyone would love that aspect, but to be honest, it really wasn’t such a thing. At the time it was hard to be a luxury item and also sustainable, so we fell back from it a little bit. Now, the consumer is more aware that this doesn’t have a negative connotation; yes, an expensive material can still be recyclable. It’s been so nice in recent years to lead with that, and the more that our customers and retailers have leaned into sustainability, the more we have, too. We’re carbon-neutral certified and we’re a member of 1% For The Planet [1% of annual sales are donated to environmental causes]. We also plant a tree for every order through Eden Reforestation Projects, and work with Ecologi, which allows us to offset our carbon spend in terms of how the office is run.
I lean towards clean and timeless pieces, with a pop of colour or pattern through accessories.
Can you give us some tips for making sure a swimsuit fits properly?
With our one-pieces, we always suggest buying the size you wear for bottoms, and the rest of the suit will stretch and give in the right ways. A lot of customers buy bigger than they need because they think it will hide areas they are concerned about or allow more future use. But swimwear is like lingerie; really knowing your size will give a great fit. And our suits have shape-retention technology, so they don’t stretch out over time.
Should we wash our swimsuits?
The biggest thing to remember about elastic is it’s harmed with heat, so hot water and dryers are a no-no. Hand-wash with detergent in the sink, or if that’s not possible, I’ve put my suits in the washing machine on a gentle cycle. The biggest tip is to lay them flat to air-dry.
Tell us about your summer wardrobe staples.
I lean towards clean and timeless pieces with a pop of colour or pattern through accessories. My go-to look would be high-waisted jeans with a T-shirt, a Bottega Veneta Mini Jodie bag and Dior Dway canvas slides. This summer, I’ve been wearing a lot of loose button-ups with jean shorts and simple rompers. Frame and Mother are my favourite brands for denim, and I love James Perse basics. I’ll also wear a straw bucket hat and classic black sunglasses by Bottega.
What are your favourite summer beauty products?
I switched to clean products when I was pregnant and haven’t switched back. I use Ilia make-up, Nécessaire Body Wash, Biossance Gentle Cleanser and Super Goop sunscreen. I love to exfoliate with the Ouai Scalp and Body Scrub and I use Dae signature shampoo and conditioner. Also, Summer Fridays Lip Butter Balm and CC Me Serum, and The Ordinary Serum Foundation.
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