ThirdLove to Open Stores in Select Markets and Add Creative Agencies

Intimates brand looks to grow as rival Victoria's Secret flounders

three women in their underwear
Now is an opportune time for intimates brand ThirdLove to grow its business. ThirdLove
Headshot of Richard Collings

For ThirdLove, now may be the best time to grow in light of difficulties at rival Victoria’s Secret. With that in mind, the intimates brand is pursuing every strategy, from opening stores in select markets to bringing on board creative agencies, to bolster its marketing and branding efforts.

Just last year ThirdLove celebrated multiple million-dollar days, according to David Spector, co-founder and co-CEO, who spoke during a presentation at communications firm ICR’s annual growth conference in January. Though the intimate apparel retailer would not divulge details about its financials, it gives some idea of how big the brand is and how far it has come since 2015, when it achieved its first million-dollar day.

As ThirdLove enters 2020, it is looking to bolster its marketing and branding needs. Though it has not had and doesn’t now have an agency of record, there is the likelihood it could hire one within the year, according to co-founder and co-CEO Heidi Zak. ThirdLove previously teamed up with agency Partners & Spade to produce the company’s first national brand campaign “To Each, Her Own,” a spokesperson noted. Horizon Media has served as the company’s television ad buyer.

The intimates brand will utilize outside agencies in addition to internal creative, likely because it is ramping up its television ad spend. According to Spector, ThirdLove will spend more money this year on traditional forms of advertising, from billboards to radio and television. Digital, meanwhile, will continue to be directed in-house, he said, pointing out that the company’s internally produced digital ads have performed well.

Spector pointed to the startup’s larger rivals, who initially began with traditional advertising and then went into digital; ThirdLove is going in the opposite direction. In fact, ThirdLove wants to become less reliant on digital and to focus on television, he added.

On the brick-and-mortar front, while ThirdLove doesn’t need hundreds of stores (as Victoria’s Secret has long operated), opening a flagship or two in large metropolitan areas makes sense to Spector. The brand plans to open stores in select markets this year after launching its first concept space in New York last year, according to a spokesperson. The store served as a pilot that ThirdLove could learn from in terms of consumer demand, shopping patterns, store traffic and more.

Founded in 2013, ThirdLove has raised at least $70 million, with the company in constant contact with investors, according to Zak.

“There has been a lot of interest in ThirdLove, and [we] believe the best years are ahead,” a spokesperson said in a statement. The brand’s investors currently include firms such as L Catterton and Allen & Co., and well-known personalities such as Katie Couric.

ThirdLove’s major innovation, and the foundation of its growth, is its Fit Finder. The online tool allows women to shop from home by being able to determine their size without having to go to a store, Spector explained.

Once the company helps customers find their size, it’s easy for them to order and reorder. Admittedly, developing the technology and determining sizes was the difficult part, with several patents protecting ThirdLove’s development of the tool, Spector said.

And ThirdLove’s T-shirt bra, through which many women discover the brand, continues to lure customers and introduce them to its other products, such as sleepwear.

In the meantime, ThirdLove continues to benefit from its culture of inclusivity in terms of bodies and diversity, appealing to all ages and demographics. Since its beginnings, the brand has tapped into and been surprised by how open women are to discussing issues such as sexuality and fertility. This ties into customers touting the benefits of ThirdLove’s products, growing the brand’s reputation through word of mouth.

In light of L Brands’ deal with private equity firm Sycamore Partners to unload Victoria’s Secret, ThirdLove provided a statement from Zak: “This is a positive step for our industry, which was historically dominated by unrealistic ideals and images of what femininity and sexy should be.”

She added: “ThirdLove was created with inclusivity in mind, and over the last several years we’ve seen inclusion become table stakes for most modern brands. We helped create a new norm, a new future, where women are defining what it means to be sexy, and we are proud to have built a brand that is celebrating every shape, size, age, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.”


@RichCollings richard.collings@adweek.com Richard Collings is a retail reporter at Adweek.
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