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Exclusive: ThirdLove kicks off store expansion

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A digitally-native retailer known for its inclusive sizing, body positivity and advocacy for women is expanding in brick-and-mortar.

ThirdLove, the bra and innerwear brand that was founded online in 2013 and has since expanded into loungewear and activewear, will open four new locations in time for the holiday rush. Three stores will open in October in Washington, D.C.; Dallas; and Boston, with a fourth opening its doors in early November, in Scottsdale, Ariz. 

The stores, which will range between 1,100 sq. ft and 1,500 sq. ft., will double ThirdLove’s portfolio to eight locations — with more to come in the future.

ThirdLove’s store expansion has been three years in the making. The company’s first try at physical retail dates back to 2019 when it introduced a pop-up store in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood. The goal of the store, which was open from July to December, was to bring its signature digital personalized bra fitting experience to life.

Instead of filling the store with merchandise and storing inventory, ThirdLove brought in samples to complement its fitting experience. Store employees conducted personal fittings using the company’s 60-second Fit Finder” tool, a digital questionnaire that helps formulate the best bra size for shoppers. This system uses proprietary algorithms developed in-house by its female-led data science and bra design teams. The technology’s goal is to help women find the perfect bra size.

Shoppers also had the option to begin a fitting on their phone or tablet and complete the process in-store with an associate. Once they discovered the correct size, shoppers could try on store samples. After making their selection, shoppers worked with associates to place an online order and have merchandise shipped to them.

“We wanted our first pop-up to focus on the shopping experience, and give our shoppers our fitting expertise and the opportunity to work directly with our store associate to get the fitting process started,” explained Veronique Powell, VP, strategy & operations, ThirdLove.

The pop-up was a learning experience for ThirdLove. The company came to realize that, despite it being a digitally-native brand, it wasn’t necessary to cram its technology into the store experience.

“Fit and comfort and leaving with merchandise in-hand were priorities for in-store shoppers, not our technology trademarks,” Powell said.

The pandemic forced ThirdLove to halt its physical store plans. With plenty of time to rethink its expansion strategy, in 2021 the company partnered with Leap, a platform that enables brands to deploy stores more rapidly and at significantly reduced cost and risk.

With Leap’s help, ThirdLove started its physical expansion, opening four outposts on the West Coast in early 2022, starting with one at Fashion Island, Newport Beach, Calif.  It was followed by locations in Venice, San Francisco and Walnut Creek. Unlike the brand’s New York City pop-up, these stores “are light on technology and more focused on the shopping experience,” Powell said.

The stores, which are approximately 2,000 sq. ft., feature soft tones, sleek fixtures and plush furniture. Hanging globe lamps and recessed lighting highlight the fabrics of the merchandise. Shoppers can also book appointments online with fit stylists prior to their visit.

“Our stores feel like a warm hug,” Powell said. “Shopping for bras can be intimidating so by adding decor that is comfortable, warm and friendly we are creating an environment that puts our shopper at ease, and makes her feel comfortable and in control.”

ThirdLove stores are proving successful in expanding the brand’s audience, To date, 65% of ThirdLove’s store shoppers are new to the brand. The company plans to keep growing its U.S. retail fleet next year, expects stores to help grow its retail business to between two and three times its current size, Powell added. The locations will feature new color combinations, graphical artwork and sculptures.

To further drive in-store excitement, the company will leverage its recent acquisition of Gen Z-fave Kit Undergarments via dedicated capsules, pop-ins and events, particularly in its home base of Los Angeles. ThirdLove hosted its first KiT event this summer, at its Venice Beach, Calif., store.

ThirdLove also has other initiatives on tap for the new year, including expanding internationally with the introduction of a Canadian e-commerce site. (Currently, the company doesn’t have any plans to open physical stores in Canada.)

ThirdLove also plans to test new product launches, as well as embark on localized marketing initiatives across direct mail, local partnerships and events. The retailer is also planning an advertising campaign that will span across print and radio channels.

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