From SKIMS to YITTY to Savage X Fenty, celebrities are driving consumer interest in body-positive shapewear.
“To all the girls that think you’re ugly because you’re not a size 0, you’re the beautiful one. It’s society who’s ugly.” – Marilyn Monroe
Body positivity, the movement that’s been driving fashion trends across the spectrum for more than a decade, has made its way to what used to be the least body-positive category in all of fashion: shapewear. And who better to lead that revolution than the woman who singlehandedly made voluptuous curves desirable again?
Kim Kardashian launched her SKIMS brand of shapewear—which has since expanded to include underwear, swimwear, and loungewear—in September 2019, with the first collection selling out online in literal minutes. The brand quickly moved into brick-and-mortar retail, most notably Nordstrom in the U.S.
Kardashian noted that solving problems within her own wardrobe while also creating solutions for women of all sizes and skin tones provided the impetus for creating SKIMS. “The inspiration for SKIMS started with finding solutions for dressing issues as opposed to ‘fixing’ or changing a woman’s natural shape and figure,” she said during the Nordstrom debut. “I wanted shapewear that would allow me to wear amazing fashion pieces comfortably—whether it be a super high slit, low back, or plunging neckline. I also wanted SKIMS to feel accessible for all women, so from the beginning I wanted at least nine shades and an extended size range.”
By all accounts, SKIMS has been a phenomenal success. In January 2022, a little more than two years following its launch, the company was valued at $3.2 billion, and its latest category expansion promises to only increase that figure. SKIMS Bras debuted on September 27 and should take a bite out of a global bra market that topped $28.55 billion in 2021. Kardashian announced the launch in early September on the SKIMS Instagram account, noting that SKIMS Bras were in development for three years and underwent one year of fitting trials and wear tests. “The feedback we received means that there really is a bra style here that fits every single need, shape, want that you could possibly imagine,” she added.
The latest challenger to Kardashian for star power in the shapewear market is Lizzo, who launched her YITTY brand through Fabletics in April 2022. The 34-year-old singer, rapper, and songwriter—whose real name is Melissa Viviane Jefferson—partnered with Fabletics after telling Don Ressler, CEO of the California-based retailer, that she was tired of equating shapewear with body-pinching pieces that were more painful than fun. “When I told him about my vision to reinvent shapewear, he believed in the idea immediately,” she said during the brand’s launch this year. Lizzo christened the line YITTY from a nickname given to her as a child by a family member, while she also is directly involved in all design, style, and color choices. Indeed, like Kardashian’s SKIMS, YITTY is offered in a variety of both color and coverage options, enabling women to use pieces beyond shapewear as layering choices.
Available in all 90 Fabletics retailers across the U.S., YITTY’s presence will continue to increase via shop-in-shop experiences planned in the coming months. Like SKIMS, YITTY is also on track for rapid expansion beyond shape shorts, bodysuits, and bras to introduce dresses, leggings, and other pieces tailor-made for street-style fans. “Being able to wear these styles as inner and outer wear allows people to wear the product the way they want to wear it, based on how they want to feel,” Lizzo pointed out.
Likewise, Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty collection blends body positivity with pieces that proudly convey an overt sexuality. “We redefine sexy,” Rihanna said prior to her Savage X Fenty Vol. 3 show, which took place in Los Angeles in September 2021. “We want women to feel sexy no matter what society has told them before.”
Savage X Fenty’s new growth is yet another sign consumers want their shapewear and lingerie accompanied by a splash of star power. While the brand has concentrated on online sales since its launch in May 2018, the company has begun a shift to brick-and-mortar retail, with its first physical store at Fashion Show Las Vegas opened in January of this year, followed by Savage X Fenty boutiques in Houston and retail destinations in suburbs of Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.
Six additional locations are planned for the coming months in Chicago, Atlanta, St. Louis, Detroit, Long Island, and Newark (Delaware). Ultimately, the strategy is designed to enable Savage X Fenty fans to try on pieces and more accurately gauge sizes—the category’s biggest obstacle in online sales—while also enjoying a comprehensive brand experience. As a company statement noted when announcing the additional openings, “The direct-to-consumer experience connects the energy of the brand’s highly engaged e-commerce site and social community to a vibrant space to discover, shop, and interact with Savage X Fenty.”
Perhaps we needed a celebrity or two—and maybe a pandemic—to help us remember to honor our bodies. But if shapewear sales, projected to reach $3.9 billion by 2028, are any indication, the message is getting through. A new era of shapewear has arrived, and underneath it all is a radical message of self-acceptance.
Photo courtesy of GETTY IMAGES
1 Savage X Fenty store is located in the Brookfield Properties portfolio at Fashion Show Las Vegas.
24 Nordstrom stores are located within the Brookfield Properties portfolio, including Iconic Collection destinations Ala Moana Center, Oakbrook Center, Shops at Merrick Park, and The Shops at La Cantera.
15 Louis Vuitton stores are located within the Brookfield Properties portfolio, including Iconic Collection destinations Ala Moana Center, Brookfield Place NY, Oakbrook Center, Pioneer Place, Grand Canal Shoppes, The Shops at La Cantera, The Shops at The Bravern, Tysons Galleria, and Miami Design District.