Swimsuit shopping is not one of commerce's more beloved experiences. Wearing a bathing suit is usually fun – as it implies one is poolside or on a beach – but procuring one is less so, particularly for women.
And yet, as Andie Swim co-founder Melanie Travis noted in a chat with PYMNTS, despite the fact that very few people really relish an opportunity to travel to a store to purchase a new swimsuit, that didn't necessarily make buying online a natural solution. The problem, she noted, is a matter of trust. Consumers may not like trying on a few dozen different bathing suits under the harsh cast of unforgiving fluorescent lights, but they like the idea of buying an ill-fitting bathing suit even less.
"Swimwear leaves the wearer uniquely exposed," Travis noted. "And it can be kind of hard for a normal person to project how they are going to look in a bathing suit by checking it out in 2D and displayed on a swimsuit model."
The solution she and co-founder Tess De Paula settled on was a swimwear store for women by women, which looks to cut back on the clutter in the industry with a line of affordable, minimalist swimsuits. The line started out with three designs of one-piece suits in single colors, but has recently expanded to include a line of two-piece suits.
Instead of having to guess, consumers can order as many swimsuits as they want and return them for free, without limit, within 30 days of receipt. And the more a shopper buys, the more she is rewarded: One suit costs about $125, two cost $115 apiece and three cost $105 each.
Of course, the buy online, try on at home model isn't new. Warby Parker has been working to popularize it for years, and Amazon Prime Wardrobe offers similar try-before-you-buy benefits. But Andie Swim is rethinking more than just the way customers shop for their beachwear – it also wants to take a stab at rethinking the way the entire industry is organized.
Stores, Travis noted, have an idea of when bathing suit season is – and that assumed calendar drives the pacing of the entire industry. The fact that the calendar doesn't really make much sense, or really align all that well with anyone's shopping habits, doesn't seem to have been as much of a concern. Retailers might be rolling out swimwear in February with plans to sell all of it by August, but that isn't really in step with consumer patterns.
In fact, when Travis and De Paula actually dug into airline travel patterns, they found that while there used to be peaks and valleys in late summer and winter, travel has mostly evened out throughout the year.
Andie’s view is that swimsuit season is really every season, with perhaps some specialized extra focus at certain points of the year.
The brand is also looking to build beyond its product, reaching out to develop an entire community around the Andie Swim vision of simple, female-designed, American-sourced and -made bathing suits. That community has notably gotten a very high-profile member in new investor Demi Moore.
Known for having one of the world's more famous beach bodies, Moore said the firm attracted her investment with its simple, straightforward and smart solution to a nearly universal problem in commerce.
"I was drawn to Andie’s approach, which puts women at the forefront,” she told WWD. Moore continued, “Shopping for a swimsuit can be stressful and time-consuming for so many women, but Andie makes finding the perfect swimsuit an incredibly simple, easy and comfortable experience.”
The amount of the investment remains undisclosed.
And while Moore is probably the most famous member of the Andie Swim community, its co-founders are singularly focused on exporting their unique brand experience to more consumers nationwide, particularly with pop-up shops that can let the customers have the in-person experience as they desire.
The tides are turning in swim fashion, according to the Andie Swim team – and they believe the firm, small though it is today, has a bright future riding those new incoming waves.