Victoria’s Secret is reintroducing swimwear to stores, in addition to online, with brands including Ayra, Baobab, For Love & Lemons (exclusive to Victoria’s Secret), MonicaHansen Beachwear, Roxy, Skinnydippers, Vitamin A, as well as the company’s private label.
The mix-and-match items come in a range of sizes XS-XL, from 32A-38DDD and 40D. Suits start at $49, according to a company press release.
The decision several years ago to exit the swimwear category was a head-scratcher to many L Brands investors, and Victoria’s Secret’s ongoing sales declines did little to mollify them. It’s a complex category from several standpoints, according to Lee Peterson, executive vice president of thought leadership and marketing at WD Partners.
“Swimwear is perhaps the most difficult merchandise category under the apparel umbrella,” he said by email. “The technical elements, [especially] fit, are very tough to master and the timing is so fickle (random weather can really play) that most retail brands will shy away from even attempting it.”
Still, it’s a logical side business for a lingerie manufacturer like Victoria’s Secret because so many of the design and production elements are similar, made easier by having an online sales and marketing channel, said Peterson, a veteran of L Brand’s predecessor, The Limited.
“Once you do master the category (as [Victoria’s Secret] has in the past), you can own it because of the lack of competition,” he said. “The other modern factor is that you don’t need 600 stores worth of inventory anymore. You can run a phenomenal swimwear business out of one store now: your warehouse. E-com can certainly take a lot of the former risks out of difficult categories like swim so, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more efforts at building that business going forward.”
The reentry comes as L Brands continues the work of separating Victoria’s Secret and its Bath & Body Works personal care brand, with executives recently saying that could be accomplished in August. Several investors have pushed for spinoff of the lingerie company as it continued to lag behind its sibling, but that has been complicated in recent months as Victoria’s Secret has enjoyed more robust sales and margins.