RL exclusive Q&A with ThirdLove’s VP of Strategy and Operations Veronique Powell

Retail Leader talks to ThirdLove’s VP of Strategy and Operations about its first acquisition, store openings and merchandising 60-plus sizes in every store.
Elizabeth Christenson
Editor, Retail Leader
Elizabeth Christenson profile picture


  • DTC brands moving into physical retail still must provide an omnichannel shopping experience to meet consumers however they want to shop.
  • Physical stores bolster retail categories where consumers prefer to try-on merchandise prior to purchase.

With the experience of operating a pop-up location prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, women’s lingerie retailer ThirdLove opened 10 stores in 2022. The push to open stores came from the retailer’s not-so-surprising research results that found consumers like to have an in-store try-on experience before purchasing a bra. Retail Leader tapped ThirdLove’s Veronique Powell, vice president of strategy and operations, to chat about how the brand already has seen a return on its investment in physical stores and also how they’re expanding with acquisitions.

Retail Leader (RL): How does ThirdLove view the role of the physical store? Why is now a good time for your brand to roll out more brick-and-mortar locations?

Veronique Powell
ThirdLove’s Veronique Powell, vice president of strategy and operations

Powell: Retail expansion has always been a priority for ThirdLove — we view our stores as awareness builders. For many shoppers, this could be their first experience with our brand. We wanted to create this physical touchpoint for consumers to have a tactile experience with our bras and feel supported in finding their perfect fit.

We had previously opened a pop-up in New York City in July 2019. We had to close in March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we learned a lot of valuable lessons. We began opening our permanent physical retail stores in January 2022 and have opened five stores to date, with five more slated to open by end of year.

We felt this was the right time for us to focus on retail expansion for many reasons. We know from our research that some shoppers prefer to have an in-store try-on experience before purchasing a bra, and we wanted to be able to provide that. To date, 65% of our store shoppers are new to our brand. We also see our stores as another marketing channel. We’re looking to our stores to not only drive overall revenue, but also to raise brand awareness. We think about each store like a billboard and that mindset helps determine how we select locations, making sure they are highly visible and in areas where our potential customers are already shopping.

RL: How would you describe ThirdLove’s in-store experience? How are you making consumers feel comfortable? 

Powell: Our brick-and-mortar stores enable a more enriching browsing experience. We were really thoughtful about making our stores feel warm and inviting, a comfortable space where she can feel at ease while shopping and trying on bras.

Our in-store and online customers are similar in that they are both looking to ThirdLove to help them look and feel amazing. Our expertly trained Fit Stylists are available to do just that. Fit Stylists are able to measure and size shoppers, and offer a variety of suggested styles to help fulfill their needs. They are specially trained to put the customer at ease and create a positive fit experience. Shoppers can also book appointments online with Fit Stylists prior to their visit to help streamline the whole experience.

RL: How does your in-store design help you differentiate from other lingerie retailers?

Powell: Our stores feature plush furniture and sleek fixtures in soft tones. We have warm accent lighting to highlight our fabrics.

Being a digital-first business, testing and learning are part of our DNA. This isn’t something you typically see a lot of in brick-and-mortar, because it’s a slower moving channel, but we’ve prioritized how we can be data-driven in every decision we make, from retail locations to in-store aesthetics.

RL: Known for being an inclusive retailer, how does that translate into the in-store experience?

Powell: We strive to have our in-store experience reflect our mission as an inclusive brand. Our stores feature mannequins in a variety of body shapes and sizes. The product inventory in our stores includes a range of sizes between 32-44 A-H and XS - 3X. It's challenging to stock stores with 60-plus sizes, but it's key to our mission to represent our full range in every store.

RL: In 2022, ThirdLove also acquired Kit Undergarments, which targets a younger consumer base with fashion-forward offerings. How is ThirdLove expanding into new categories, and how will these new lines be available to consumers on their omnichannel shopping journey?

Powell: Kit Undergarments was our first acquisition, and we are so excited to bring their soft and youthful styles to our audience. We are always looking for ways to expand, most recently we’ve grown our North American footprint by opening a warehouse in Canada.

We always look to our customers to determine what they want to see from our brand. We've listened to their feedback and have some exciting new product launches on the way in 2023. New products will be available for customers to shop online and in-store. However our customers are most comfortable shopping, we want to support them where they’re at.

RL: Any info you can share yet on where future stores will be located and how many stores you expect to open in 2023 or 2024?

Powell: In Q4 2022, we’ll be opening stores in Washington, D.C.; Boston; Scottsdale, Arizona; Chicago; Dallas and Philadelphia. We took a number of factors into consideration before determining each location, including assessing the opportunity for potential customers and co-tenants in the area.

Our retail expansion will continue throughout 2023, with plans to open three to four stores per quarter. Other markets on our radar include south Florida, New York and Ohio.

RL Rapid Round:

For this last segment, we asked Powell to fill in the blank for these rapid-fire questions below…

The future of in-store experience is: More customers seeking 1:1 shopping experiences with expert guidance from sales reps.

The best career advice you ever received: Success comes from a series of small consistent wins over time and rarely from big swings. Focus on incremental improvement every day, every week, every year.

Piece of media (podcast, book, movie, etc.) that’s inspired you recently: “Building a Storybrand” by Donald Miller has really helped ThirdLove hone in on what matters most to our customers and put that into action across all marketing channels, including stores.