For the first four years of its life, Solid & Striped was a swimwear brand with an aesthetic that called to mind beachy vacations. But pre-pandemic, she began experimenting with other categories. Once the pandemic hit and tropical trips became less popular, those new categories became lifelines.

Solid & Striped is one of the many brands that expanded its category offerings in the last year. According to Glossy research, 57% of brands launched at least one new category in the last 12 months. On Wednesday, Landman spoke to Glossy editor-in-chief Jill Manoff during a Glossy+ Talk about Solid & Striped’s strategy for entering new categories.

The right category
Some categories have received exceptional attention from shoppers in the last year. They include loungewear, activewear and sleepwear. With people stuck at home, it’s no surprise. As a result, brands that typically don’t sell in those categories are entering them,  looking to boost sales.

But Landman said it’s important to make sure a new category is a natural extension of the brand, before going in. 

“Sport is such a natural extension for a company like ours,” Landman said. “Even before we saw the [sales] performance of the first collection, we knew it would be the right fit for us. Our customer is already wearing activewear and wants it. It’s a miss not to have the option to buy it from us.”

Landman said that leaning into categories that complement what Solid & Striped already does helps current customers take to those new products organically. Now, swimwear makes up about 70% of the brand’s sales. Activewear and ready-to-wear make up 28%, and accessories account for the remaining 2%.

Easing in
Landman described entering a new category in real estate terms.

“You can buy it, build it or rent it,” she said. In other words, you can pay to license someone else’s product to sell on your site or in-store or you can build that category from scratch internally. Finally, you can do what Landman has done with Solid & Striped, which is “rent” the category by collaborating on a collection in that space with another brand that knows it well.

That was Solid & Striped’s strategy when working with Bandier for activewear in 2020. Rather than build an activewear collection in-house, with the accompanying design and production resources required, Solid & Striped tested the category with Bandier, collaborating on design and production. After the collection proved the viability of the category, Solid & Striped subsequently released a solo activewear line via the standard model. Bandier is a wholesale partner.

Landman said she wants to remain focused on category expansion for the next few years and will continue to use the methodical approach of testing categories before investing more heavily.

“In an ideal world, five years from now, we will have added footwear and handbags and expand our brick and mortar retail”, Landman said. “No one has a crystal ball, but these category expansions have added tremendous value.”

Slide deck

Event video