Heidi Zak

Heidi Zak was never a fan of the bra shopping experience and that was solidified in her early 30s when she needed to purchase a bra for a Google holiday party — she previously served as senior marketing manager at the tech company — and went to Victoria’s Secret.

“I went and there were the angels and the feathers and the smell,” Zak said. “I found myself with a bra that didn’t fit. That was a moment of revelation for me that I was shopping at a store I didn’t love.”

This informed the launch of ThirdLove, a digital intimate apparel brand that lets shoppers purchase a bra online and determine their size using the Fit Finder survey, which has collected 600 million data points on bra sizes.

Zak believes that the next revolution for apparel is personalization, and ThirdLove works toward this with the Fit Finder and its breadth of bra sizes — ThirdLove offers 70 while competitors such as Aerie, Calvin Klein and Victoria’s Secret have around 30. ThirdLove is also the only brand to offer half sizes and launched the New Nakeds, which caters to a variety of skin tones.

Internally, Zak said she’s created a culture of innovation for her 300 employees by eliminating the chief marketing officer and merchant positions and having the marketing, design and planning teams work on an equal playing field with the customer at the center of all decision-making.

With that in mind, when ThirdLove received a letter from a 50-year-old customer named Hope, who noticed that she didn’t see anyone who looked like her in the ThirdLove catalogue, the company responded by inviting Hope to its San Francisco headquarters and shooting her. ThirdLove continued this inclusivity messaging with a campaign called “To Each, Her Own,” which they made with Andy Spade’s agency Partners and Spade. It was its first out-of-home campaign that showcased women of all shapes, ages and sizes.

While many brands that start out as direct-to-consumer eventually open stores, Zak, who has tested out wholesale and physical activations, is committed to being a digital, direct-to-consumer company.

“I started ThirdLove because I disliked bra shopping. Unlike other categories where it makes sense and it’s social and you enjoy the shopping experience, bras aren’t like that,” Zak said. “I believe we can be a multibillion dollar company without having any stores.”

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