“The single most important thing a scaling brand can do right now to succeed is diversify channels,” Melanie Travis, founder and chief executive officer of Andie Swim, told WWD. “With all of the data privacy changes in the digital landscape and customers hungry to have real-life experiences after so long of being locked down, I believe that brick-and-mortar is a key growth lever for digital brands.
“Florida is a great swim market and it’s a perfect place to test brick-and-mortar retail while it’s colder in some of our other key markets,” continued Travis, who founded the New York-based start-up in spring 2017. “And while e-commerce did grow during the pandemic, I would be surprised if in-store shopping doesn’t rebound to pre-pandemic levels. Every store is packed near my apartment on Bleecker Street in New York City on a Saturday afternoon. So, I’m very optimistic that the time and location is ideal for our first brick-and-mortar experience.”
The 1,600-square-foot pop-up will be located in The Square shopping center at 700 South Rosemary Avenue in West Palm Beach. Guests will be able to browse a selection of Andie Swim and Andie innerwear while talking to fit experts in stores. Visitors can also opt to chat with fit experts in Andie’s New York offices over the phone. In addition, shoppers can order products online while in the pop-up shop, including items not available in the physical location, and have them shipped to their homes.
“Since swimwear shopping can feel like a vulnerable experience, we made sure the space would feel comfortable and friendly,” Travis said. “The space is clean, bright with natural modern tones and inviting seating. We put a major emphasis on the fitting rooms, from the size and lighting to the mirrors and accessories inside the fitting rooms. We also have store staff available to answer any questions on fit, fabric or style while also making sure women have the space to try on without feeling overwhelmed.”
Andie Swim has sold more than 1 million swimsuits since it launched four-and-a-half years ago. The brand counts Demi Moore among its list of investors and has worked with celebrity influencers, including Moore and her daughters, and has also created a capsule collection with actress Claire Holt along the way.
In October 2020, the brand raised $6.5 million in a Series A funding round to help it scale. At the time, Travis said she was exploring wholesale opportunities. “Wholesale has much longer lead times than d-to-c,” she said recently. “So we’re still exploring, but we don’t have a timeline yet for [a] launch in wholesale.”
Andie did, however, expand into intimates in April 2021, of which Travis said the response so far has been “overwhelmingly positive.”
While Travis wouldn’t comment on revenues, she told WWD in October 2020 that annual sales were “north of the $20 million mark.”
In addition, the founder recently confirmed that between 2019 and 2020, revenues grew more than 100 percent. Travis isn’t concerned about fluctuating travel patterns, or the cold months ahead either. She’s anticipating revenue growth to be roughly the same between 2020 and 2021.
“The idea that swim is only sold in summer is a bit of a myth,” Travis said. “First of all, people who live in cold climates like to escape to warm destinations in the winter. You wouldn’t think it, but Canada is an amazing market for us for precisely this reason. So, our resort season in places like Canada, New York, Chicago, D.C. and other key cities is huge.”
She added that Andie Swim has a large swimwear market in Australia. “We are anticipating a post-COVID-19 travel rebound and the changing nature of remote work will reduce the seasonality of the category,” Travis said. “So on a global scale, you don’t see nearly as much seasonality as you might expect even when the snow clouds roll in.”
And the entrepreneur might be right. The global swimwear market, which was worth more than $16 billion in 2020, is expected to grow to about $21.4 billion by 2025, according to market research firm Euromonitor International.
“As for innerwear, the pandemic has changed customers’ relationship to their clothes and even with the world opening up, women still want to maintain comfort in their wardrobe,” Travis said.
Additional collaborations and product categories are also in Andie’s future, although the CEO was tightlipped on the details. There are also more pop-up locations in the pipeline.
“There has never been a better time to invest in brick-and-mortar as a channel, given the evolving dynamics online and the appetite for customers to get out of their homes,” Travis said. “When the weather warms up, we intend on rolling out [pop-up] stores across several of our key markets. I hope we learn a lot from this first store that we can apply to our future locations. We don’t have any plans yet for permanent brick-and-mortar, but we’ll see.
“The future of retail is in omnichannel,” she continued. “Brands who can bridge the online world and the offline world will find the most success. Right now we’re focused on hitting our growth goals so that all of the options are open to us.”