Five-year-old direct-to-consumer company ThirdLove is increasing its size options in an effort to capture a larger part of the market and proclaim itself as the most inclusive bra brand in the industry.
The company has launched 24 new sizes, with sizing options from 50 to 74.
For comparison, Victoria’s Secret offers 36 sizes, and Aerie, often linked with a marketing message of inclusivity, has 31.
Leading up to the launch, the styles had a 1.3-million strong waitlist — most signed up while using the brand’s Fit Finder, which according to the brand has been used by 10 million women. When discovering ThirdLove didn’t offer their size, they entered their email address and size to be notified when it became available. The brand beta-tested 15 of the new sizes in late June, which sold out in a week and drove more names to the waitlist.
The brand will now carry up to a 48 band size, and cups AA through H, which cofounder and co-CEO Heidi Zak said will service 80 to 85 percent of the market. “Most brands ignore 50 percent of shoppers,” she said, noting the average bra size is 34DD.
The new sizes offered are a direct response to data collected from the Fit Finder. Some of the most in-demand sizes are those with smaller bands and larger cup sizes — like 30F, 32F and 32G — which are hardest to find in the market, said Zak. The brand has been increasing its sizing since launch, and it will continue to do so, with plans to launch around 10 more sizes next year based on demand.
“The ethos of our brand is a bra for all women,” said Zak. “If you don’t offer size, you can’t be an inclusive brand, because most women can’t fit into your product; you don’t have something to offer them.”
Along with quantitative data from the Fit Finder, ThirdLove used qualitative data from focus groups of women to develop the new size selection, looking at details from strap length to level of support. The groups included women from its largely female staff of 250, as well as customers of different heights, weights and body types, and with various breast shapes. Feedback from the beta test also came into play.
In contrast, Zak said, most brands work with fit models wearing size 34B, 34D and 34E, and “grade up and down evenly” to make styles with size 32 and 36 bands.
ThirdLove’s 24/7 Perfect Coverage Bra, now available in 70+ sizes
Taking more time to determine fit was just one piece of the required investment. Zak said some of the new sizes cost 45 percent more to make, due to details like double- or triple-layer fabric and thicker straps needed for support — but ThirdLove is offering them at the same price as other sizes, rather than tack on $10 to $15, a common practice among bra brands. Others say they don’t go there specifically because of the cost involved.
“Using the high cost of production as an excuse is, in essence, asking women to change their bodies to fit into a narrow definition of what designers choose to create,” said CeCe Olisa, a lifestyle blogger and co-founder of The Curvy Con. “At this point, all fashion brands are aware of the need for inclusivity in fashion, and the community is ready and willing to spend. There are brands who see the need and step up to serve women who need extended sizing. There are also brands who continue to ignore women who need extended sizing.”
The DTC bra space has become crowded with brands looking to tap into the $14.2 billion lingerie market. But the newbies offer even fewer sizes than the established chains, said Zak. (Lively offers up to 22, depending on the bra style; Negative Underwear has 10.) Many have entered the lingerie space in the past five years, “They’ve marketed and differentiated their product assortment well,” Zak said. “But in terms of size range, nobody is close to what we’re doing, which is why we’ve grown so quickly.”
ThirdLove declined to share specifics on it growth to date, though Zak said revenue more than doubled from 2017 to 2018. So far, the company’s raised $13.6 million in venture funding.
“I don’t believe in physical retail at the moment, personally,” said Zak. “I started this company because people don’t want to go into a store to buy a bra. I want to be able to service them online, which is much more convenient.”
To fill gaps many brands fulfill with a store, ThirdLove has relied heavily on videos that provide guidance. Videos currently make up 90 percent of the content its in-house team produces — last year, they were just 10 percent. Videos on the site and social media cover everything from how to define “cup gaping,” a term used in the Fit Finder, to how to wash a bra to why new bras should be clasped on the loosest hook.
Bras in the new sizes will each be available in all types of nude shades, which, Zak said, makes for a lot of SKUs — but she’s confident the company is equipped to tackle the inevitable surge in orders to come.
“We don’t say ‘plus’ or ‘extended’ sizes,” said Zak. “Nothing on the site needs to change. We’re just trying to help women find their size. Your size is your size. Period.”