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Will swimwear become Victoria’s Secret Online weapon?

Victoria’s Secret said last week that it has acquired a minority interest in Frankies Bikinis, a women-founded and led beachwear and lifestyle brand.

The move brings to mind how much Victoria’s Secret has changed in recent years — the chain seems to have spent much of its time trying to put its past in the rearview. In the case of Frankies, it recalls memories of the retailer’s decision in 2016 to get out of swimwear, a decision that was panned at the time and later reversed.

Frankies is known for its  “laid-back Malibu vibe,” according to a press release to announce Victoria’s Secret $18 million investment. The company was founded in 2012 by then 17-year-old Francesa Aiello and her mother Mimi.

The younger Ms. Aiello, who is creative director for her brand, said, “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. 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.”

Victoria’s Secret CEO Martin Waters called Frankies “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.”

Mr. Waters said the investment in Frankies “is a continuation of our efforts to expand partnerships with culturally relevant brands founded by women entrepreneurs.”

Victoria’s Secret made news recently with the launch of a new online-only private brand called Happy Nation. The brand, which will be available beginning next month, features bras, panties and comfortable clothing for pre-teen girls.

The retailer recently released its full year results for 2021, its first year as a publicly-traded company after its spinoff by Limited Brands. Victoria’s Secret posted operating income of $869.5 million compared to $97.5 million in 2020. Net sales for the year were up 25 percent with comps up three percent.