When Melanie Travis started the Andie Swim label in 2017, she was selling three kinds of black suits out of her New York apartment.
Fast forward six years and the marketing director turned swimwear CEO launched her first flagship on Tuesday at the hip, seaside Malibu Country Mart north of Los Angeles where her retail neighbors include Paige, Faherty, Vince, Madison, Ron Herman, Chrome Hearts and Double RL & Co.
“We have a huge market in Southern California, and we knew we wanted a presence in Southern California,” said Travis, who noted that about 10 percent of her sales come from Southern California.
Andie Swim, which now includes intimate wear, has been sold mostly through the company’s e-commerce site. But the brand did pop-up stores in West Palm Beach, Florida, in 2021 and in Sag Harbor, New York, last year. The conclusion was the swimwear seasons at these locations last only three months. “Those stores did excellent business during the in-season, but during the off-season, there was not enough business,” Travis explained.
Drilling down on the label’s e-commerce website, she noticed her sales were pretty much year-round in the Malibu region, an affluent community filled with many celebrities where her core customer is an active mother looking for a comfortable yet fashionable swimsuit that is not too matronly.
So, Malibu was selected for the company’s first retail location. Inside the 915-square-foot space, the interior design evokes a summery beach with two fitting rooms outfitted with yellow-and-white striped curtains to resemble cabanas. A mural on the wall shows a beach scene, which is similar to a mural at the brand’s corporate office in New York.
Travis started the idea for her swimwear company in 2016 when she didn’t know all that much about swimwear. She created her company based purely on need. Her career until then had encompassed marketing jobs for e-commerce start-ups.
At her last job as director of brand experience for Bark & Co., a monthly subscription service for dog products, she found herself searching for a swimsuit to take on a business trip. “I had a miserable experience finding something that was comfortable, made me feel confident and was affordable,” she said. “Plus, what kind of swimsuit do you wear with your CEO?”
Today, Andie Swim checks off the comfortable-fitting box, and the average retail price ranges from $100 to $150. The silhouettes are basic but flattering and most of the fabric is recycled nylon with a bit of stretch. The company’s collection, which is manufactured in Sri Lanka, China and Morocco, is 60 percent one-piece silhouettes. Sizing is inclusive, ranging from XS to 3XL on all styles and 5XL on some items. There is also a long torso option for taller women.
Travis has made great strides in the last seven years. She initially financed her company by raising $250,000 from friends and family and launched a year later. Then, she did rounds of financing to accelerate product development, grow the e-commerce side of business as well as expand the core team to 30 people.
In late 2021, Andie Swim raised $18.5 million in series B funding, bringing the brand’s total investments to $27.5 million. The latest round was led by Marcy Venture Partners, the venture capital firm cofounded by Jay-Z with Jay Brown and Larry Marcus. This has helped the brand grow to about $50 million in annual revenues, Travis said.
Actor Demi Moore is also an investor and longtime supporter of the label, saying she was drawn to the brand because it makes shopping for a swimsuit less stressful. Moore and her three daughters — Rumer, Scout and Tallulah Willis — appeared in a 2021 Andie Swim summer ad campaign. Last year, she did a design collaboration of vintage-style pieces called Andie Swim x Moore.
In the future, there may be more Andie Swim stores being established. “We are really optimistic this is going to be a productive store for us, and we will look at similar markets with year-round demographics,” Travis said. “As we mature as a brand, we are casting our eyes to department stores such as Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. I think as you mature, you need to be omnipresent.”