Study after study after study has shown: Given the option between a garment that fits and a garment that’s better for the planet, consumers will almost always choose private interest over public good.
But why should they have to?
Summersalt, a direct-to-consumer women’s swimwear label, delivers on both fronts, employing not only Italian fabrics and “premium” recycled materials but also a patented, data-driven system based on 1.5 million body measurements from 100,000 real women.
First-time customers are invited to take a “style quiz” that makes recommendations based on size, shape and personal inclinations—do they want their bottoms to be a “little cheeky,” for instance, or would they prefer to be more covered up? Do they like lined coverage, or are “no cups no problem”?
Available in a raft of one-piece and two-piece styles—none topping out above $95—Summersalt’s suits are five times stronger than the average suit and UV-protected up to SPF 50, according to Reshma Chattaram Chamberlin, the company’s co-founder and chief digital and brand officer.
Being a pure-play retailer, she said, is how it manages to make its swimwear accessible to all women.
“By cutting out the middlemen and with supply chain at warp speed, we’re able to deliver designer quality at an affordable price with functionality and performance in every product,” Chamberlin said.
The brand, she added, has rejected the “oversexualized and tired” approach to swimwear design and branding, and its customers have responded. It’s also meeting its customers where they are: online and on social media, where it incorporates real-world influencers to spread its gospel.
And it looks like Summersalt’s instincts are on the money—literally. The St. Louis, Miss.-based firm, which launched last May, raised $2 million in seed capital in April and $6.1 million in Series A funding in October.
Lori Coulter, Summersalt’s co-founder, CEO and president, says the brand will use the money to grow its team, expand its assortment, scale up sizing and develop new categories beyond swimwear, such as travel wear and packing essentials.
A large percentage of its customers purchase swimwear for an upcoming trip, she notes, which is no surprise. More women are traveling than before, and tourism is the world’s fastest-growing market, reaping more than $1.6 trillion in 2017.
“We are excited to leverage our extensive library of modular designs and rapid supply chain to delight our consumers with modern garments built to travel with her,” Coulter said. “Summersalt is creating digital product, content and garments designed to inspire our customer to embrace adventure and to facilitate human connections.”
In early 2019, Summersalt plans to roll out a content platform to connect “like-minded women and travelers across the globe.”
“Traditional retailers and brands are failing today’s consumers by forcing them to choose between quality and value,” said Stacy Chang of the San Francisco-based Founders Fund, which led the Series A round of funding. “We’re excited to back Lori and Reshma as they continue building a brand and voice aligned with the modern shopper.”