Intimate apparel start-up ThirdLove has closed an $8 million Series A round of funding that includes Laurie Ann Goldman, former chief executive officer of Spanx, and former Victoria’s Secret Stores ceo Lori Greeley.
The round, revealed today, was led by existing investors New Enterprise Associates and also includes REI chairman John Hamlin, Starwood Hotels founder Barry Sternlicht and Claire Bennett, an executive vice president and general manager at American Express and Tumi board member. The round follows a $5.6 million seed round raised in 2013, bringing the company’s total current funding to $13.5 million.
The new funding makes it possible for the San Francisco e-tailer, whose companion mobile app relies on computer vision technology to fit women in the appropriate bra using whole and half cup sizes, to focus in 2016 on growing its team, introducing new products, adopting new paid marketing strategies and investing in the company’s retail expansion following a partnership with Bloomingdale’s that brought an exclusive 10-piece capsule collection to select stores and the retailer’s Web site starting in September.
Along with expanding that collection to include new styles and additional Bloomingdale’s stores this year, ThirdLove plans to add additional retail partners.
“Based on the success of that partnership, we’re in discussion with other retailers. Part of our financing will go toward making happen,” said cofounder Heidi Zak, an ex-Google employee who started the company with husband Dave Spector in 2012.
For retail partners, half-sizes appeal as a new option to offer customers.
“ThirdLove has complemented our total assortment by offering our shoppers half sizes in bras for the first time….The brand caters to customers who have truly been in between sizes their whole life,” Bloomgindale’s fashion director of accessories and beauty Erica Russo said.
With global growth of the intimate apparel market projected at 3.7 percent through 2019, according to recent TechNavio findings, the tech-driven lingerie brand is reporting 400 percent year-over-year revenue growth for 2014-15, a significant uptick Zak attributes primarily to media coverage, sharing via word-of-mouth and the company’s referral program.
Additional plans for the year ahead include “doubling-down,” according to Zak, on the brand’s best-selling 24/7 collection and phasing out some product lines in the process. With multiple years’ worth of user data from the mobile app at the ready, the company says it can deliver a consistent fit across the product line, which includes t-shirt, lace, full-coverage and push-up styles.
“Once you have that size, every other product in our 24/7 collection has that exact same fit,” Zak said.
As evidence for the company’s fit accuracy, Zak pointed to a return rate currently in the single digits, as well as a repeat purchase cycle that sees its average customer buying a second bra within 45 days, compared with a reported 12-month industry standard.
With its data-based design model, ThirdLove expects its precision in sizing, which the company says currently performs better than a human with a tape measure, only to continue.
Said Zak, “All of the inputs to the bra are based on data of real women versus a fit model, so the more data we have, the easier it is.”