February 15th, 2021
Melanie Travis founded Andie when she realised that swimwear shopping just wasn’t doing the trick for her: the overly bright lighting, the cramped space, the attendant who’s waiting outside making you feel nervous. Travis, who had worked for Kickstarter and Foursquare, took to making her own direct-to-consumer (DTC) brand, bringing the swimwear shop into her customers’ bedrooms.
Initially, Andie’s model was sending out three swimsuits in a box, with the more swimsuits customers kept, the lower the price for each: one suit for US$125, two suits for US$115 each, and all three suits for US$105 each. Through working out how to hold customers’ credit card information for several weeks, and a custom-built plugin with Stripe, Andie’s customers suddenly had the freedom of choice and time.
In a podcast with Glossy, Travis said the fact women could try on swimsuits at home made a huge difference. Women would send pictures of themselves, in their bedroom mirrors, to Andie’s fit consultants to get recommendations on size — a team of four answer fit questions via email, and through 15-minute calls scheduled via Calendly. That customers are sending pictures of themselves in possibly their most vulnerable state of undress to a stranger is a definite sign of comfort: It is not just because they are in an environment they know well, but also trust that Andie’s staff are there to truly help them.
One of the first initiatives Travis put in with Andie was the fit quiz, a set of 12 questions to help determine your fit and which style would suit you best. A problem much pondered in the denim sphere, it is curiously one that has not been thought about as much in swimwear.
The fit questions include your height, bra size, clothing sizes, as well as how much bust support you like, torso length (longer torsos, which are defined to be longer than 30 inches, tend to make swimsuits ride up) and bottom coverage (from “full” to “cheeky”). The quiz then goes on to ask you which parts of your body you love, which parts you would rather cover up (under the guise of “what makes you feel most comfortable in a swimsuit”, quiz-takers can choose “full bust support”, “full bust coverage”, “tummy coverage”, “compression lining” and “full bottom coverage”), and what your biggest swimwear frustration is. The quiz has shown results in being able to predict the best sizes for customers. “We’ve gotten messages from women who ordered a couple different suits, one that was recommended versus the one they wanted, and in the end, the fit quiz recommended the right one,” Travis told Digital Commerce 360.
The thousands of data points Andie has gathered has enabled designers to figure out which new cuts and shapes they may want to trial. In addition to this, frequent A/B testing, and by crowdsourcing opinion via Instagram polls, the design teams have created swimsuit styles the community wants, as evidenced by the frequent sell-through of stock and waitlists formed.
Crafting the perfect suit
The only way to get that sell-out, perfectly fitting swimsuit though is to expertly craft and manufacture one, which is why Andie makes its suits at the world’s leading swimwear factories in China. These factories’ decades of experience and technical expertise has further helped to produce swimwear for every fit preference and occasion, and with everybody in mind.
Andie uses a blend of nylon and spandex which is chlorine-resistant, durable, non-piling, quick-drying and breathable — a conscious choice of high quality that befits luxury standards; it’s no wonder that they receive five-star review after five-star review.
“I love this suit! Such great support and shape and still looks just gorgeous. It’s my second Andie’s and I couldn’t be happier. I don’t think I’ll ever get over the quality feel of these suits.”
Travis ensures the factories she uses to produce Andie swimwear subscribe to ethical and fair labour practices, in addition to technical expertise — being associated with factories whose buildings collapse, or where workers are held in indentured servitude, are no-goes. Andie carries out multiple surprise inspections on the factories made throughout the year, ensuring that environmental initiatives and working conditions are always maintained.
The factory is also working towards environmental initiatives and becoming 100% green, something which goes hand in hand with Andie’s Eco Collection, which consists of the brand’s best-selling suits, but made in a special fabric made of post-consumer plastic and recycled fabric.
For all women
Even though inclusivity and diversity are buzzwords being thrown around the fashion industry these days, Andie increased its sizing from S-XL to XS-3XL now, with plenty of stock available in the larger sizes (a hurdle many outlets that supposedly carry 3XL stumble at), and with models — for product shots on the website, and advertising — through the whole size and melanin spectrum. There are now also maternity styles, as well as children’s.
Just providing swimsuits that actually fit is not enough if you can’t afford them: Travis deliberately wanted a price point around US$100 (instead of comparable suits selling at US$400). Not having to pay for brick-and-mortar costs has helped with that, obviously, but its genuine commitment to serve as many women as possible has not only maintained that, but even dropped the price to US$95 for most of its one-pieces. No wonder investors (including actress Demi Moore) are clamouring for stakes — it has raised about US$8 million so far.
Just like any brand, a brand wouldn’t be where it was without its customers and that is why Andie has flourished, although in a saturated market, it has listened and it has heard. It has prioritised its customer and put them at the heart of everything it does. No more adjusting, tugging, or pulling, just flawlessly fitting swimwear in high quality fabric that performs whether you are swimming or lounging by the pool. With the customer front and centre, it’s no wonder that Andie meets the swimwear needs for thousands of women.
Written by Brian Ng, Writer.
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