CEO Sarah Landman and her team at Solid & Striped were working on the 2021 resort collection before the pandemic began. But after restrictions put a damper on travel, Landman said she seriously considered canceling resort altogether.
But resort is important for Solid & Striped. The brand has a strong focus on swimwear, beachwear and travel clothes, and resort makes up about 40% of the its annual sales. Instead of canceling resort, Landman said she and her team rethought it, changing up the products included and how they’re marketed.
After the CFDA canceled its slate of resort presentations in April, a number of brands like Brand Assembly and Gucci canceled their resort collections entirely to focus on just two big collections per year. For the brands that are going through with resort, many are using it as an opportunity to test out new strategies around marketing, production and sales channels.
Landman said, this year, Solid & Striped’s resort collection contains more ready-to-wear pieces that are wearable in different climates. The collection launched on October 20 and a gift-giving capsule collection of cold-weather accessories like hats and sweaters will launch on Thursday — all new categories for Solid & Striped.
On the marketing side, the team has focused on the versatility of the resort collection. For example, photos posted on social media show how a one-piece bathing suit can be worn as a bodysuit. Additionally, the company is geo-targeting ads to customers in areas including California, Florida and Texas, where the brand already has a large audience and where beachwear and swimwear are usable.
“Resort is a big part of our DNA,” Landman said. “We felt it was really important to continue it, even if we had to change the makeup quite a bit. Luckily, we were already hoping to move more into ready-to-wear anyway, so that aligned. But it’s important that we aren’t moving away from swimwear or beachwear completely. We still think there’s appetite for that, as well.”
Notably, Landman said resort makes up a big part of the business for many designers since it has a long selling time, typically being on shelves from October to around May.
Amy Smilovic, creative director at Tibi, said she’s also adjusted her resort collection, which hits sales channels later this month. Typically, the collection is quite large, with dozens of pieces, but she said her team has drastically reduced the size of the collection. An upside of the pandemic, she said, is having the space to pull back and make smaller collections, and focus on selling them all the way through by direct channels. In the past, the company had made larger collections that is sold via wholesale partners.
“For resort, we had actually finished all the designs in March, and then we had to kind of undo it,” Smilovic said. “Luckily we hadn’t produced any designs yet. But when it became apparent that we were going to be in a whole new world, we realized we weren’t going to be beholden to any timelines: We aren’t beholden to what deliveries the wholesalers need. We aren’t beholden to the number of styles that need to be in a delivery. We can do whatever we want. And that’s been really freeing.”
Smilovic said Tibi has reduced the size of its wholesale business by about 50%, cutting out wholesale partners that weren’t successfully selling through styles. She said that if some stores were having to mark down prices in order to sell through inventory, then that would negatively impact other partners who were having no trouble moving product. Tibi is one of many brands that has taken this opportunity to adjust the frequency or volume of seasonal collections. Alessandro Michele of Gucci has spoken about needing to cut back on the many smaller, mid-season collections like resort and pre-fall.
Resort will be an opportunity for the brand to test its new focus on DTC and smaller collections. The smaller and more agile focus also extends to the marketing side. Smilovic said that she and a small team of only about seven people decide how to market their collections now, down from a team of about triple that size. She said she will continue to build the company around that agility for the foreseeable future.
“Last month, a designer on our team made the most amazing cashmere sweater for fall 2021,” Smilovic said. “Everyone in the office loved it and wanted us to make it immediately. At first, I was like, ‘No, this is for fall.’ But then I thought, why not make it now? So we made 50 of them in two weeks. And once those sell, we can make 50 more. That [freedom] is such a huge new thing [for us], but I love it. The only way I imagine Tibi changing from that is if I get hit by a car and someone else takes over the company and changes it.”