Since 1985, Elizabeth and Simon Southwood have made it a family affair to create unique, fashion-forward swimsuits

Lady Gaga seen in one of Sauvage’s iconic bikinis featuring Swarovski crystals
Lady Gaga seen in one of Sauvage’s iconic bikinis featuring Swarovski crystals
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OVER 30 YEARS AGO, a young couple had no idea that together they would create Sauvage Swimwear, a widely recognized swimwear line with a reputation for quality and style. Elizabeth and Simon first met while working as waitstaff and searching for meaning in life.” According to Simon, “Elizabeth was always talented at making her own clothes—really interested in fashion—and it just sort of happened by accident.” One day, a friend asked her to make him a fun swimsuit to take on vacation and loved what she created. Simon saw the potential in Elizabeth’s talent and, despite not knowing anything of the business, he began finding the audience who was interested in the high-quality, unique products they had to offer.

Simon and Elizabeth Southwood
Simon and Elizabeth Southwood

What started as a one-time favor for a friend led to a couple sewing machines and cutting tables in a small place on El Cajon Boulevard. And as Simon says, “It went on from there.” While they learned a few things from the “school of hard knocks,” they now they have a factory in nearby Miramar. Simon explains, “Everything is designed and made here in our own place—quality control is very important to us—and we are very proud that everything is made in the USA.”

Overall, the company edges toward a European style, with fashion-forward trends and high-quality materials. From their small beginnings of a single men’s suit, they developed an entire men’s line, added a women’s line and have begun working on other resort wear and accessories. But these are no ordinary swimsuits and cover-ups. Sauvage aims to create show-stopping pieces; special outfits and suits for those who want to be seen in something unique. This approach relies on the finer details.

“We take great care from the beginning. We go to Europe once a year; visit the factories and develop their prints, trims and accessories. It makes it a very unique, very personal style. We don’t just drop into a warehouse and pick out fabric—we design it from the ground up, with love and care and inspiration,” says Simon. This dedication has landed their swimsuits on the cover of Sports Illustrated and in the media—Lady Gaga was seen in one of their iconic bikinis featuring Swarovski crystals.

Simon and Elizabeth recognize that the business has “been very good to [them.]” And with all that they have accomplished, they aren’t stopping any time soon. They are continuing to expand their line and their company, especially within the family. “Our son—once he graduated from college—came into the business and he is helping. He develops the website and internet sales, which is the future of the business.” But as they continue to grow, Simon has a realistic and grateful attitude. “One of the biggest successes is being able to do your own thing and have people like it. It’s a huge success to do that for 25 plus years.”