Shopping for a swimsuit is not always easy. With many retailers closing off their changing rooms, shoppers will have to buy several styles and sizes to take home or order online. And that means having to return or ship back anything they don’t want.
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Melanie Travis, CEO of New York-based Andie Swim, is applying technology to the swimwear e-commerce category in a way that is steering her 3-year-old startup to be a direct-to-consumer leader in the space, even picking up where Victoria’s Secret left off when it exited the D2C swimwear market in 2016.
Andie Swim considered many of the pain points associated with shopping for a swimsuit, creating both its “online fitting room” and “digital fit quiz” services, which result in customer orders of three to six suits per year.
“Those were key drivers for why I wanted to start this company,” Travis told Crunchbase News. “I struggled to find a swimsuit that fit well. It is absurd that retailers are selling bikinis in sets. We are about being the best fitting and developing styles people want to buy. We are also known for our one-piece.”
Andie Swim closed on a $6.5 million Series A round of funding from a group that includes CityRock Venture Partners and Trail Mix Ventures. The new funding gives the company a total of $8 million raised, which included initial capital from angel investors, Travis said.
The funding comes as the startup is experiencing significant growth. It is earning more than $20 million in revenue, growing between 75 percent and 150 percent year over year, while most of its popular pieces regularly sell out.
“Ours has been a story of ultra-fast year-over-year growth,” Travis said. “What we have shown is that we built a strong foundation in the U.S. and Australia on the back of nine styles. It is a healthy business that is growing fast and what attracted investors to the Series A.”
The global swimwear market is estimated to reach $28 billion by 2024, according to Allied Market Research. Meanwhile, other industry analyst firms estimate that 25 percent of the swimwear market in the U.S. is online, Travis said. A Crunchbase database search yielded five venture-backed companies in the e-commerce space that said they sold women’s swimwear. Just two, Andie and Summersalt, disclosed funding totaling approximately $43 million.
Oliver Libby, managing partner at CityRock Ventures, said in an interview that “swimwear is a very strange category,” with most of the experience involving picking through drawers for sizes. Many retailers did not figure out how to do returns, so it is hard to make sales numbers when people are buying eight suits and returning six, he said.
“Andie Swim has added technology and data to figure out how to process returns and still have cash flow, as well as help people find the right size and find what they are looking for,” Libby added. “Melanie has command of the business and a clear vision. Her vision could grow into a massive juggernaut or be an attractive potential purchase.”
Meanwhile, the new funding is intended to aid in expanding internationally, adding more talent and expanding the product selection. This summer, the company added an eco-friendly line and rolled out a limited collection of kids and maternity styles. Both have done well, leading Travis to consider its first print collection and additional categories geared toward women of all sizes.
Andie Swim’s website tracks where users live, and it is showing demand from Southeast Asia, particularly in Singapore and Indonesia, as well as France and Germany in Europe, Travis said. The company has 13 employees and intends to be at 20 by the end of the year.
“Our aim is to provide customer support throughout the whole customer journey,” Travis said. “If we do this right, there is an opportunity for us to be the go-to brand.”
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias
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