Diane's Beachwear

B. INDIGO BIKINIAfter 55 years in the industry, Diane’s Beachwear continues to be a one-stop shop for customers by providing the newest, on-trend and high-quality swimwear they need. By Bianca Herron

When Mickie Bandle opened the 150-square-foot Mickie’s Swim Shop in Manhattan Beach, Calif., in 1962, she made custom bikinis and allowed customers to mix sizes for tops and bottoms. Not long after making its debut, the company outgrew its tiny shop and relocated to a larger location just one block up.

Fifty-five years later, the company is owned and operated by Bandle’s daughter, Diane Biggs, as Diane’s Beachwear. With 21 locations throughout southern California and a couple in Arizona, its mission remains the same now as it was in the 1960s. Biggs says this has been the foundation of its success over the years. 

“Our commitment began and continues to focus on the well-being of women,” Biggs says. “We have always offered more than just merchandise. In a nurturing environment, we encourage women to be active, healthy and to feel good about their bodies.” 

Dianes Beachwear Info

One-Stop Shop

Customers at a Diane’s Beachwear location can expect to find more than simply swimwear, as the stores carry everything from cover-ups to bags to beach towels and other accessories. The Torrance, Calif.-based company also carries full lines of the hottest swim- and beach-inspired apparel, giving customers everything they could possibly need for a day at the beach and beyond. 

We specialize in swimwear and that’s 51 percent of our business,” Biggs explains. “It’s what we are known for; however, everything else we offer is an add-on. So if you’re going to the beach or a resort, we have what you need to pack your suitcases with. Our customers buy up to three suits from us at a time. So while they’re in the dressing room, we show them cover-ups and anything else that could go in their suitcase. In addition, everything has to be related, so if you’re going to the beach that includes a towel, suit, sunglasses, hat and lots of other options.”

Diane’s Beachwear does not offer ready-to-wear products; instead, it provides cover-ups and sundresses customers can put on after leaving the beach. “Everything is non-constructed,” Biggs says. “So it’s sexy, easy and classy beachwear.”

The goal is to be a one-stop shop for customers so that they do not have to go elsewhere. “Our customers range in age from young pre-teens to 80 years old,” Biggs says. “They expect the latest in swimwear specialty when they come into one of our stores. That’s why we try to offer varying price points so that everyone who comes in can afford something.”

Though most of the company’s vendors have their own websites, Biggs notes that they “help each other out.” “A lot of them like our stores to be brick-and-mortar because people come in and can see all the different brands and products that we offer. Our vendors support us as well by helping us with marketing campaigns and featuring us on their website as well, so we really work together.”

A Destination

Biggs notes that the majority of its customers still come into its brick-and-mortar stores. “We emphasize offering the best experience and making each location a destination, with product mixes and a look that matches the surrounding community,” she explains.

With 21 stores, Diane’s Beachwear may not have a large number of locations compared to some national chains. However, Biggs says that is the No. 1 factor that sets the company apart from its competitors. “We are able to be more hands-on,” she explains. “If we had 100 stores we wouldn’t be able to operate the way we do, and it would be more of a cookie-cutter process.

“Another advantage is we are able to treat each store like a boutique,” she adds. “So for each location, we are very aware of the profile of what the customer and location itself is. If I had 100 stores, I’d have to make them all the same to operate them, which doesn’t sound as nearly as exciting as what we do. We like the boutique environment and are not looking to expand currently. So we want to make the stores we have currently the best.”

Though it is a challenge to “keep all those plates spinning,” Biggs notes, as well as to ensure that customers and staff are happy, Biggs says the company continues to move forward by continuously re-inventing itself. “In our business, it isn’t possible to thrive without reinventing yourself,” she says. “Our shoppers are savvy, so they know when there’s something not right in your company. So we are constantly bringing new merchandise in and putting it out in an effective manner. For example, we change our windows every week to showcase new products and collections. That’s one way we show customers that we are aware of the latest trends and that we always have something fresh.”

Delivering The Best

Diane’s Beachwear employees play a critical role in the providing the experience the company is known for. To help customers feel more comfortable while shopping for their new looks, Diane’s Beachwear trains its salespeople extensively so that they know every brand inside and out, and can better help customers find the look that’s right for them. 

“We constantly work with our employees,” Biggs says. “We not only train them, but we also let our vendors train them as well. The more knowledgeable they are about all of our products, the more successful they will be when trying to sell to a customer.

“Our products, locations and customer service all play an important role in our success,” she continues. “So it’s critical that all three of those work in tandem. It is a challenge, but with having at least 50 years of experience in this industry, all we can do is remain focused. We continually love what we do and do it to the best of our ability because of that. It’s not always easy; however, we are always challenged to do better because we always want to do better.”

Biggs adds that she believes in being the best. “You can’t be everything to everyone because if you did you’d lose your brand and your focus,” she says. “So we try to be the best at what we do, which is swim. It’s not easy because it is seasonal and many people don’t know how to buy separates. However we have learned to operate in this industry naturally, providing what the customer needs and it has worked for us.

“We also capitalize on any festivals that we have in town or nearby to showcase our products, and our customers travel all year long,” she adds. “It’s hard to find suits when they are out of season for department stores, but customers can come to us as we always have the newest, on-trend and high-quality suits they need.”

As Biggs looks ahead, she notes that she’s proud that the company is still successful after five decades. “Everyday that I wake up, I know that it is show time,” she says. “I don’t know where this business is going to go – of course, I would love to see it continue to grow – but I do know that I’m proud that we are still around. I love what I do and all I know is that I’m going to keep going for as long as I can. So we’ll just have to see what happens.”

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