“It’s really interesting to see the way Gen Z sort of does their self publishing on Instagram versus millennials,” Michelle Copelman explained in an interview with The Daily Californian. The never-ending distinction between generations doesn’t have to stop at swimwear, but Andie’s Vice President of Brand and Design is trying to find common ground.
Andie, a predominantly online swimwear retailer, recently opened its first West Coast pop-up on Berkeley’s Fourth Street. Previous locations include Sag Harbor, New York and West Palm Beach, Florida. Both locations boast much sunnier weather, with a beach feel more laid back than the Bay’s foggy and cold summer forecast.
So why open a swimwear pop-up in a place that isn’t very swimmable? Artist and Fleas, a traveling pop-up market for creators and artists, holds weekly events on Fourth Street. Copelman, who has been a fan of the marketplace since college, knew it would be a perfect spot for Andie.
“(Opening on Fourth Street) seemed like a perfect marriage between our demographics and also Andie’s aesthetic,” Copelman said.
Aesthetics and demographics are important for any brand, and Copelman wants to design the perfect swimsuit across generations. This means crafting and perfecting suits in different colors and fabrics for all body types.
“The idea is that any woman from like age 16 to 96 can find something at Andie,” Copelman said.
In an oversaturated market, it can be difficult for swimwear that shines. From affordable brands such as Shein to celebrity lines such as Kim Kardashian’s Skims swimwear line, almost everyone wants to make a profit off swimwear. It’s often easier for businesses to produce swimwear that promotes a Victoria’s-Secret-esque fantasy and reinforce an unattainable vision of what the female body should look like.
Andie, Copelman explained, is alternatively aiding in the pioneer of generations “redefining what it means to be feminine” when it comes to swimwear.
Andie’s multi-generational customer base values the best of both worlds: a trendy, stylish bikini that can last in any situation. Buying clothing on the Internet is already risky business, but purchasing a swimsuit without viewing it in person seems like even more of a perilous journey. Yet, the brand offers sizing from an extra small to a triple extra large, boasts sizing quizzes, multiple fit guides and in-depth coverage and style information with each suit.
Copelman even said that Andie’s fit experts gladly hold Zoom calls with hesitant buyers; in fact, for Copelman, opening the dialogue is most important.
“It’s really nice how open women are to talk about their bodies,” she beamed.
By creating a realistic approach to size, Copelman has been able to uniquely dictate sizing. Instead of varied and confusing sizing — “What even is an extra small, anyway?” the designer queried — Andie is trying to take sizing back to “actual reality.” Rather than using flashy marketing approaches or buzzwords about size inclusivity, Copelman emphasized working for customers, not speaking for them.
Coming from massive brands such as J. Crew, Solid and Striped, Ralph Lauren and Marc Jacobs, Copelman means business.
“It’s kind of interesting when you’re so passionate about something, and it sort of doesn’t feel like work,” Copelman said. “It’s just like second nature.”
Copelman and Andie’s unifying vision to make universal swimwear resonated deeply with both customers and the broader fashion community. She wants to open up about “what usually happens behind closed doors,” citing positive feedback from customers about fit consultations and customer service efforts.
The designer credits her personal experience and trust from her team at Andie for being able to create environmentally friendly swimsuits that are everything in one. The female-led company finds that the fabric “Eco Nylon,” 74% recycled nylon and 26% spandex blend, is the superior sustainable option. Andie’s also worked on reenvisioning their packaging (down to the stickers, Copelman said) to fit their eco-friendly customer. Soon, she said, Andie will only be using recycled materials to make their swimsuits.
From perfecting everything from design to execution, Copelman shares that the factories that manufacture Andie are just as conscious as the brand itself. “There are a lot of people who touch these garments,” she said. The designer also condemned factories with poor labor and production practices.
Enough with male CEO tycoons who have been designing and selling women’s swimwear without a clue, without passion; Copelman’s attitude toward Andie’s vision only scrapes the surface of the importance of women designers, especially in swimwear. Maybe an exaggeration, but not a far-fetched one, Copelman related the memories made in swimwear to that of a wedding dress.
“It’s like the one category that you know people are wearing to create probably their most memorable moments in life,” Copelman said.