Victoria's Secret on Friday announced an investment of $18 million for a minority stake in Venice, California, beachwear brand Frankies Bikinis.
The decade-old brand was founded by Francesca Aiello when she was a teenager and her mother, Mimi Aiello, according to a Victoria's Secret press release.
Victoria's Secret reintroduced swimwear to its assortment three years ago, after finding that its decision to eliminate that merchandise hurt sales.
Victoria's Secret fumbled when it decided to exit the swimwear category, and ended up returning to the segment, first only online and then also in stores. With the investment into Frankies Bikinis, the retailer is not only augmenting its swimwear offer, but also furthering its recent shift to messages of women's empowerment.
"Our investment in Frankies Bikinis is a continuation of our efforts to expand partnerships with culturally relevant brands founded by women entrepreneurs," Victoria's Secret CEO Martin Waters said in a statement.
In a statement, Frankies founder and Creative Director Francesca Aiello said the pivot at Victoria's Secret has impressed her.
"I have such respect for the transformation that Victoria's Secret has made over the past few years specifically with diversity and inclusivity, and I believe that together we can continue to bring a new wave of fashion into the swimwear industry for all women of all shapes, all sizes, and all backgrounds," she said. "With Victoria's Secret beside us, Frankies Bikinis will continue to deliver our signature collections that encourage customers to explore their personal style and create looks unique to themselves that make them feel their most confident."
Despite the erosion of its market share in recent years, Victoria's Secret has remained the global leader in the lingerie category, and its scale will enable Frankies Bikinis' growth. The company sells directly to customers online and via several retailers, including Victoria's Secret.
Francesca Aiello "has created an aspirational beachwear brand and trend leader in the swimwear category, with room to grow and extend into new categories and attract new customers in the direct-to-consumer channel," Waters said.