- ThirdLove is an online bra startup that launched in 2013. It is opening its first pop-up store in New York this month.
- This puts ThirdLove in direct competition with Victoria’s Secret’s New York stores.
- Its cofounder and co-CEO Heidi Zak previously told Business Insider the company had no plans to open stores.
- Heidi Zak was named to Business Insider’s list of the 100 people transforming business in 2019.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Heidi Zak set up online underwear brand Thirdlove so that women wouldn’t have to go to a store to shop for bras.
"Nobody wants to go bra shopping," she said in a conversation with Business Insider in September 2018.
"I believe we can really solve the fit question," she said, adding that stores were not in the pipeline. "My focus is on digital and continuing to iterate and build on it."
ThirdLove solved the "fit question" by offering an online quiz known as a "fit finder," where customers are asked to complete a series of questions to determine their ideal bra shape. To date, more than 12 million women have taken the quiz, according to the brand. Each time a customer does, the algorithm becomes that much smarter.
Now, nearly a year later, ThirdLove is making its first foray into brick and mortar and opening a pop-up store in New York that will stay open until the end of 2019.
In a statement to announce the store’s opening on July 24, Zak explained that the new space will give customers the chance to engage with the brand in real life, something that they have been asking for.
"I started ThirdLove because I thought women deserved a better bra brand and a better shopping experience. We’ve delivered that online and now a lot of our customers have expressed a desire to connect with our brand in person."
Customers can come into the store for a real-life bra fitting with its "Fit Stylists," and all of ThirdLove’s 78 sizes will be available to try on in the store.
This new store puts ThirdLove in direct competition with Victoria’s Secret in New York, as the lingerie retailer has a store less than a 10 minutes’ walk away in Soho.
While ThirdLove is certainly not at the same scale as Victoria’s Secret in the US, it is growing fast. The company would not disclose sales numbers but told Business Insider that its annual sales have a grown at a rate of 180% for the past four years.
And, increasingly it has come head to head with the US’ biggest lingerie retailer as critics say it provides things that Victoria’s Secret doesn’t, like inclusive sizing and marketing.
This tension came to a head in November when Zak and her husband David Spector, also a cofounder and co-CEO of ThirdLove, took out a full-page ad in The New York Times slamming Victoria’s Secret over comments made by a senior executive of its parent company, who is in charge of running the annual Victoria’s Secret fashion show.
In an interview with Vogue that quickly went viral, L Brands’ chief marketing officer Ed Razek said that he didn’t think the company’s annual fashion show should feature "transsexuals" because "the show is a fantasy." He also said that the brand would not be adding larger sizes to its assortment and that it had no plans to feature plus-size models in its runway show.
Zak told Business Insider that she read the Vogue article dozens of times.
"It made us so angry," she said, adding that it was Spector who decided that the company needed to respond.
"We debated it, and we spent a lot of time writing it, but it was absolutely the right move," she said.
"We felt that we needed to make sure that not just the ThirdLove voice was heard, but that it was a rallying call to all women."
The new ThirdLove Soho store opens July 24 at 347 West Broadway in New York City.
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