Born on the beaches of Sydney, Australia, Seafolly has been selling the sun-kissed Australian dream to the world since 1975. Here, RLI spends some time with company CEO Brendan Santamaria to discuss how the brand has grown in the past 47 years and how it will continue to embody the beach lifestyle in the years to come.
Founded on the iconic Bondi Beach in Sydney, the company utilises the unique spirit of the Australian beach lifestyle and have been pioneering fit and fabric innovations in the swimwear space ever since. Innovation has always been at the heart of the business and allows them to continue taking steps towards their mission of inspiring women to feel confident at the beach.
Their swimwear, beachwear and accessories are designed with women in mind, providing shapes and support to suit a variety of body types, destinations and activities to ensure they feel confident, always.
In discussing the challenges to the industry in recent years, Seafolly CEO Brendan Santamaria explains that they have faced many obstacles over the past couple of years, including travel restrictions and lockdowns seeing a decrease in purchase frequency.
“With these factors out of our control, my focus has been on getting our product and marketing strategy right with superior fits and top-tier campaigns. This has ensured we drive strong demand for the brand as restrictions ease and customers start to travel again,” Santamaria highlights.
“We have over 25 concept stores across Australia and Singapore in addition to our websites. Our brick-and-mortar stores are focused in coastal regions where we see the highest demand, while our websites service five countries including the UK.”
Recently the company has launched Seafolly concept stores in Australian cities Perth and Sydney as well as expanding their digital presence globally with a new UK website alongside replatformed websites servicing Australia, New Zealand, US, Canada and Singapore.
With a strong digital first approach with the launch of these new websites, the brand is dedicated to providing a seamless brand experience to their customers across digital and physical. As leaders in fit, Seafolly is empowering customers in the UK to have confidence in their online purchase with access to styling and fit advice through the digital Fitting Room and Fit Specialists on call to help customers find the product that is right for them.
“We currently have a presence in over 75 countries around the world and recently launched our first direct-to-consumer play in the UK to strengthen our brand presence in the region. We know that 70 per cent of Seafolly customers start their journey online and purchase in-store, so the websites will continue building brand awareness and support traffic to our department store partners in the UK including John Lewis and Selfridges,” explains Santamaria.
The brand has a dedicated design and production team in Sydney that focuses on product fit, quality and sustainability – all key factors that see their customers return to them time and time again. They also have longstanding relationships with fabric mills at the forefront of fabric innovation and they are incorporating more environmentally considered designs into their ranges.
Sustainability and the effect brands have on the environment is a more pertinent topic than ever right now and Santamaria says the brand is making changes to help mitigate these impacts. Their approach to sustainability starts with knowledge and applying this to innovations across fabrics, sourcing and packaging.
As an example, the best-selling Seafolly Collective range uses 80 per cent recycled fibres created from waste materials diverted from landfills and oceans. Even using these recycled materials the company are able to maintain the highest quality products that retain their shape and colour for years.
Discussing loyalty and how they drive repeat customer visits, Brendan comments that the company’s Beach Club loyalty program is a huge draw card for their customers, offering exclusive rewards and benefits to beach lovers worldwide. Their database has seen double digit growth in the last 12 months with acquisition initiatives driving an uplift of 18 per cent. “The quality and superior fit of our products is globally renowned and acts as another key reason we have been able to maintain a loyal base of customers.”
Seafolly wholeheartedly embraces social media by sharing the enviable Australian beach lifestyle with their global community of beach lovers. They have dedicated resources for engaging with the community, creating inspiring updates and driving user-generated content. Staying current with social media trends has meant the business has achieved double-digit growth on their reach and engagement in the last year.
The business has enjoyed nearly 50 years of success since its inception, what does Santamaria feel are the important factors behind this?
“What sets us apart is our fit, quality and designs. Helping customers find the right fit is of utmost importance to the brand. We offer a wide variety of designs that cater to all different sizes, body shapes and coverage preferences.”
At the core of the brand is their Australian heritage, their spirited and optimistic outlook and passion for relentlessly delivering innovative quality swimwear to customers around the world. They maintain a customer-first approach to achieve their mission of making women from around the globe feel confident whenever they step foot on a beach.
“Moving forward, our biggest challenge is re-establishing purchase frequency in our off-season across our domestic market in Australia as consumer confidence is still rebuilding for international travel. However, we continue to see positive growth in the northern hemisphere where travel is more accessible all-year round,” Santamaria concludes.