Most Innovative CompanyThe disruptive lingerie retailer ThirdLove is set to open its first ever physical store later this year, introducing its Fit Finder” technology to bricks-and-mortar for the first time. The startup, which launched in 2012 and positioned itself as a body-positive bra option, will open a temporary boutique in Manhattan's SoHo district—a 10-minute walk from the nearest Victoria's Secret—where it will cull data from customers on their shopping and dressing-room preferences.
The The same missing sizes occur on the smaller end, too: There's no 30A, 30B, or 32A, and while it suggests 28 as a possible band size when you do the survey, ThirdLove doesn't currently make size 28. When you search by the outlier sizes on both ends of the spectrum, its seamless lounge bra—a soft-cup pullover bra—comes up, which, to me, doesn't count.
Yet this past April, its parent company, L Brands, was downgraded from "stable" to "negative" by Moody's Investors Service due to "deteriorating operating margins and negative comparable store sales at Victoria's Secret for the past 10 quarters." The downgrade came after a smattering of negative stories about the leading lingerie company and the retailer's apparent reluctance to back away from an oversexualized image.
But in 2013, Heidi Zak along with her husband David Spector (both ex-Google execs) set out on a mission to revolutionize that experience - using technology to improve the product in terms of fit and comfort, as well as how bras are delivered to the customer and how customer loyalty is maintained.
Its director of product growth, Desirae Oppong, said while ThirdLove's products speak volumes about the company's understanding of customers' needs, for many women who have been disappointed buying bras in the past, a higher degree of personalisation was needed to gain their trust.
When they arrived, they were surprised to find Zak's husband and co-CEO, David Spector, highly involved in their day-to-day work, with a management style described as condescending” and bullying.” This about-face was compounded by company norms — don't negotiate your salary, don't leave before 6 pm, don't work from home, don't skip a happy hour — that felt out of sync with the brand's external image.
None of us really agreed with it from the beginning.” Plus, the company had just come out with another campaign celebrating women's individuality with the slogan To each, her own.” It was like ‘what if a woman wants to be in the show or watch it, why are we telling them what to do?'” a source we'll call Kate said.
Zak and Spector are aware of the issue of privacy, an obvious concern as more women are finding photos of themselves leaked on the Internet. More than 14 million women have taken the quiz, and the company has sold four million bras, according to a statement.
And Chico's Soma intimates brand recently partnered with retail concept b8ta to introduce customers to its "SOMAINNOFIT" bra to help shoppers find the right undergarment fit. While the pop-up is open, ThirdLove, which has raised $69 million in venture funding, plans to capture customer data and use it as a way to learn what customers want from the brand from a physical retail experience.
Pink was once a bright spot within L Brands but lately has watched its same-store sales growth wane. Customers can come into the store for a real-life bra fitting with its Fit Stylists,” and all of David Spector's 78 sizes will be available to try on in the store.