This Startup Sells Swimsuits Made From Recycled Fabric

Thanks to deals with Madewell and a new series of funding, Summersalt is set to expand its eco-friendly operations.


Feb. 7 2019, Updated 1:12 p.m. ET

Summersalt has only been in business for a year, but it’s already making a name for itself in the sustainability space. The company promises affordable designer swimsuits made from recycled materials — and it just secured $6 million in funding to expand operations.

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Summersalt is based in St. Louis, but it sells swimsuits directly to customers through its online website and partnerships with Madewell and J. Crew. The collection of swimwear ranges in price from $45-$50 for individual bikini tops and bottoms to $95 for a one-piece. But no matter the cut or cost, all items are made from recycled textiles and packaged in reusable bags.

According to TechCrunch, the company sources these textiles from factories in the United States and Asia. The fabric is supposedly five times stronger than your average swimsuit material, and contributes less manufacturing waste. Speaking to Forbes last year, co-founder and digital officer Reshma Chamberlin summed up their approach to sustainability.

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"Our fabrics are five times stronger [than] the average suit made from recycled textiles sourced from cutting edge mills around the world that have the same philosophy. We also do not ship our products in a box[;] rather we send our swimwear in a bag that can be re-used and is made from 100 percent recycled materials. We are not perfect by any means when it comes to sustainability, but we strive to improve our practices every day."

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Once they have the raw materials, Summersalt designs new swimsuits using 1.5 million measurements from 10,000 women. This data bank is meant to accommodate a range of bodies, though the suit sizing currently caps at 14. With the new Series A funding, Summersalt plans to scale up its options.

"A core value of the brand really is inclusivity and we know from an economic perspective that by moving up to size 22, we really can acquire a broader set of consumers," Lori Coulter, co-founder and CEO of Summersalt, told TechCrunch.

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The $6 million comes primarily from the Founders Fund, a San Francisco-based venture capital fund owned by Peter Thiel. The VC fund raised $2 million in seed funding for Summersalt earlier this March. But this time, it was joined by investors Breakout Capital, Amplifyher Ventures, Victress Capital, Lewis and Clark Ventures, M25, Cultivation Capital, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, Dundee Venture Capital, and Giuliana and Bill Rancic.

Summersalt is also planning a new travel line to position the company as a "next-generation brand" for younger consumers who "prefer experiences over things," as Coulter explained to TechCrunch. She did not offer further details on what items would be included in this line, or what materials would be used. But hopefully it will, like the flagship swimwear collection, source from the factory floor.

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