Disrupting an Underwater Market: Swimsuits

EEX Explores how a former Sternie is Making a Needed Splash

It may come as a surprise to male readers, but many women would rather get a cavity filled than go swimsuit shopping.

Why? Imagine getting nearly naked in a tiny dressing room with terrible lighting, inevitably feeling paler and less toned than you’d like, fending off pushy saleswomen, and then trying to find a swimsuit that isn’t too frumpy or too skimpy – one that fits your body perfectly… because even a half-inch too big or too small will leave you pulling and tugging for your entire vacation.

It’s no wonder that women call the experience “frustrating,” “humiliating,” and even “traumatic.”

Tess De Paula – Stern MBA Class of 2015 and former EEX member – and Melanie Travis have set out to change that.

Through market analysis and surveys of 500+ women, they found that while the women’s swimwear market is attractive ($13 billion globally, expected to reach $20 billion by 2020), it has four fundamental problems:
• Stressful shopping experience: As described above, the brick and mortar shopping experience is largely stressful and inconvenient.

• Poor value: Because of markups and overhead costs built into traditional retail models, high-quality one-piece swimwear is expensive – over $200 per suit – and affordable options are poorly constructed overseas.

• Skewed product assortment: Most brands have very few one-piece options despite strong and growing demand (+600% YOY sales growth).

• Flawed design and fit: Swimwear is sized based on a standard (small) fit model and then scaled up or down proportionally, yielding a host of fit issues.

Believing that women deserve better, De Paula and Travis have created Andie, a better way to shop for swimwear. The service offers risk-free, at-home try-on of three timeless one-pieces, developed to luxury standards and offered at an affordable price point.

Andie’s customers can try on the suits in the comfort of their homes and on their own schedules. Plus, De Paula and Travis have done the homework for them, distilling the features and qualities women want most into three stylish and well-constructed designs that flatter a range of body types.

In crafting a brand that’s for women and by women, De Paula and Travis have worked with female experts at every step of the process, from swimsuit designers to graphic designers, factory operators to brand advisors.

Andie will launch its first collection of three swimsuits this April, available exclusively at andieswim.com. From there De Paula and Travis plan to expand quickly into new styles and products as they learn more about what resonates with their customers, who they call Andie women.

De Paula, who previously worked at Kiehl’s and Lancôme, and Travis, who comes from startups including Barkbox and Kickstarter, know the Andie target customer well—busy, professional, city-dwelling women in their late 20s to early 40s—and are eager to give them both a better product and positive emotional connection through Andie.

“We see strong parallels between the swimwear, beauty, and pet industries,” De Paula said. “Women are incredibly passionate about all three and want to buy from brands who they can trust and that ‘get’ them. And when they find a brand that makes them feel secure and understood, they stick with it for the long-haul.”

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Learn more about Andie at www.andieswim.com and on Instagram @AndieSwim.

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