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Why ThirdLove’s Taking its Online Approach Offline

Digitally native intimates firm ThirdLove is moving offline to test and learn more about what women want.

The company’s experiential retail concept at 347 West Broadway in Manhattan will open next Wednesday and continue through the end of 2019. According to the company, the concept store will provide a personalized bra fitting and try-on experience, with 60 percent of the floor space dedicated to different fitting room formats. The objective is to learn what its customers are looking for when they shop for ThirdLove products in an in-person store experience.

But how would it translate online in an offline model?

According to Heidi Zak, ThirdLove’s co-founder and co-chief executive officer, the centerpiece of the store experience still will be the firm’s proprietary “Fit Finder” technology. Customers can walk into the store and either head to fit stations similar to a beauty bar in retail that’s set up along one wall or take a tablet to the lounge area to answer a quiz-style guide.

It’s after the Fit Finder spits out some  style suggestions that the store experience comes to life.

One component of the space will showcase the brand’s extensive size range, but the key is that none of the bras will be on hangers. “Hangers are difficult with bras. They are difficult to position and bras tend to fall off the hangers. It’s also hard to see a style that’s perpendicular, when the bra is facing sideways,” Zak said.

That’s why the store will feature flat fixtures where the bras face outwards. The CEO said the core styles will include three or four cup sizes so women can see the size range offered.

“Women will see that regardless of size, the bra style will feature the same [type of] cup, lace and strap, that all the elements are identical,” Zak said.

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The company will also include a separate style wall, where the different bra options–such as T-shirt or racerback–will be shown, along with descriptions for each one. Zak said that as women view the different options, they can head over to where the bras are showcased to actually see up close what they look like.

And while those educational components are meant to showcase the ThirdLove range of styles and more than 78 size options, it’s really the fitting room options that give women a new “experiential” try-on format to shop for bras.

The brand is testing formats. One is a self-serve format that has a small drawer system where items can be placed if a woman chooses not to have as much interaction with a stylist. There’s also the format that features double curtains, so one can enter into a second area to engage with a stylist if other size options are needed. And there’s the larger fitting rooms, called the high-touch fitting experience, where she can work with a stylist in the room for advice on fit.

Zak said the different options will help the brand determine which format is best, or perhaps learn for down the road that more than one format is required in the store experience.

As for the Manhattan location–the company is headquartered in San Francisco–Zak said the city is the perfect location to test the concept because of “tremendous foot traffic. We already have an existing customer base and the city has a high number of tourists as visitors.”

The company last year launched a marketing campaign in the three different subway locations across New York City, which has helped build its customer base. The store itself spans about 2,000 square feet, and Zak said the company has the option to keep the store open at the site after the initial lease term expires. The product lines include bras and underwear. The core bra styles in the full size range will be available for purchase at the store, with the remainder of the styles available for shipment directly to the customer.

ThirdLove in February raised $55 million from a group of investors that included L Catterton and Allen & Co.