Shapewear Business Is Booming…. The $812.5 billion shapewear ...

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Nov 18, 2013 (3 years and 10 months ago)

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Shapewear Business Is Booming….

The $812.5 billion shapewear

business has been thrust into the role of image maker. Whether it’s
a tank top with a layer of support lining, a long
-
leg bike pant with heat
-
sealed control panels or a
brief with engineered stomach control, shapers are being worn every day by women and m
en of
all ages and sizes.


The growing demand is being generated in large part by a celebrity culture that flaunts idealized
bodies


often constructed


on the red carpet and in movies and music videos. In addition, an
increasing number of product option
s, high
-
tech fabrics and applications make shapers pliable,
lightweight and comfortable.


“Everybody I work with, from movie stars to models, wears shapewear and about 99 percent of
them are a size 0 or 2.…It just gives a feeling of security and physicall
y makes a person stand
straight and be more conscious of their posture,” said stylist Phillip Bloch, who has worked with
Sandra Bullock, Halle Berry, Salma Hayek and Michael Jackson.


“Shapewear is so hot now because it fits like a second skin as opposed
to armor or a chastity
belt…it’s also not an insult anymore if I ask, ‘Should I bring shapewear?’ [They used to say] ‘are
you saying, I’m fat?’ Now they say, ‘Oh, yeah, bring the shapewear,’” added Bloch, who last
month signed on with ABC as a contributing

correspondent for a series of interviews with
celebrities about their favorite charities called “Cause Celeb with Phillip Bloch.”


“I think many people live their lives vicariously through celebrities and the public knows they
wear shapers because the ce
lebrities say they do all the time,” Bloch said. “People want that
movie
-
star look. It’s affordable and there isn’t the stigma of cosmetic surgery and the paranoia.
It’s like, ‘I put on my lipstick, my perfume and my shaper, and I can take it off whenever
I
want.’”


The shapewear segment is especially popular in two age groups: women 40 and older who have
purchased basic pieces in the past and are now buying a variety of specialty products, and teens
and young women who are learning about the options and b
enefits of shapers that they wear as
fashion items, such as camis with built
-
in support.


The appetite for pretty, more upscale shapewear in fashion colors and high
-
tech fabrics and
applications is reflected in part by the migration of shoppers who buy ba
sic product at mass
merchants and brand
-
conscious consumers who shop at department stores, according to The
NPD Group, a research consultancy. From June 2010 to May 2011, the biggest increase was
generated by department stores, which posted a 3.5 percent g
ain in shapewear sales, claiming an
18.3 percent dollar share of the market. On the other hand, mass merchants posted a 0.7 percent
decline with a 24.4 share. The average price across all retail channels is $15.89 compared to
$14.36 in the same year
-
ago pe
riod.


Meanwhile, women who are small, medium or plus
-
size are all wearing shapers for the same
reasons: to look better and feel better about themselves.


And to get trimmer
-
looking abs, more men are wearing control tops by brands such as Rip’t by
Yummie

Tummie, Under Armour, Spanx for Men, Equus
-
Men and Ardyss International.


Just as beauty products are used to enhance skin and hair, shapers are worn to help smooth the
silhouette and make clothes fit better for a younger look.


Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica

Alba, Oprah Winfrey and Queen Latifah have spoken publicly about
wearing Spanx shapers at the Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards. Shapers and related
corsetry are also worn on stage by Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Miley Cyrus, which also helps
eliminate the s
tigma once attached to wearing what used to be called a “granny girdle.”


“Body image is an issue and it needs to be addressed, no matter what the size,” said Randall
Christensen, costume designer for “Dancing With the Stars” on ABC. “If we can get away w
ith
it, we’ll just use a Spanx shaper, but the fantastic advantage we have is we can customize the
shapers, which give the figure and the dancers a bit of an edge…about 50 percent of the dancers
need shapewear. The biggest challenge was Marie Osmond, who l
ost 40 pounds at such a rapid
pace that her figure would change from one week to the next. But interestingly, it’s the men who
are more particular about shapers.”

The latest generation of microfibers, which offer fashion and function in ultrasheer or matte

and
shine opaques in lighter weight deniers, have also helped turn shapewear into a fashion star. New
featherlight microfibers from companies such as Invista, Meryl, Creora and Radici enable
designers to produce shapewear with a delicate lingerie look whi
le retaining the control and
support of old
-
fashioned power net.


Among the most recent developments are shapewear pieces that are microencapsulated with
caffeine in an effort to reduce cellulite, including the iPant by Wacoal. Lytesse, a French brand,
fe
atures shapers microencapsulated with aloe vera to moisturize the skin. But even Lycra
spandex, which has been marketed since the late Seventies, is still in the mix in the
modernization of shapewear with its Lycra beauty fabric certification program.


Ke
y shapewear brands include Spanx, Playtex, Bali, Flexees by Maidenform, Sassybax, Cass,
Rago, Va Bien, Body Wrap, Yummie Tummie, Slimpressions, Shatobu, Squeem, Cupid,
Shapeez, Grenier, Dr. Rey, Nearly Nude, Cosabella Breathe, Julie France Shapewear and
Wa
coal, a bra specialist for which shapers is the fastest
-
growing product segment.


Janie Bryant, costume designer for the AMC series “Mad Men,” which is set in the Sixties, said
shapewear is key to her creative choices.


“It’s one of the reasons I love de
signing for ‘Mad Men.’ Shapewear offers so many
possibilities,” she said. “I use both vintage and modern shapers…most of the time I use a brand
called Rago because they still make [vintage
-
looking] girdles and longline bras.


“What’s interesting is there’
s been a whole resurgence of buying shapewear because of media
exposure and more product options,” she added. “Older women are buying shapewear pieces
again, and younger women are learning which pieces are right for them.”


Novelty shapers are particularl
y popular, said Maureen Stabnau, senior vice president of
merchandising at barenecessities.com, citing her best
-
selling brands like Spanx, Body Wrap and
Dr. Rey.


“Shapewear thongs are selling very well online to younger customers,” she said. “No matter h
ow
young the customer, she wants a smooth line and is really aware of panty lines.”


All of this has had a positive impact on business. For instance, Bob Vitale, executive vice
president of Wacoal America, is forecasting a 34 percent increase in shapewear

volume this year.


While women who are already thin might turn to shapers for some enhancement, the strides in
shapewear technology and broadened product choices have been a real boon for the plus
-
size
market.


“The demand for shapewear increased total
intimate apparel business in 2010 by 80 percent, and
it’s all new business for us,” said Meredith Mastropolo, lingerie and shapewear buyer at plus
-
size
retailer Ashley Stewart. “The customer sees value in shapewear. She comes in and says, ‘I need
that item
.’ If it makes her look better, she feels better and she’ll buy it.”

Michele Martins
-
Crawbuck, vice president and general brand manager for intimates at
OneStopPlus Group, a plus
-
size division of Redcats USA, which also operates Avenue stores,
said, “In th
e past, [plus
-
size] women did not want to wear clingy dresses or skinny jeans, but
technology and new lightweight fabrics in shapewear have changed that…shapewear now really
is for everybody, every day.”


The feel
-
good factor has become a psychological se
lling point, said Catherine Shannon, director
of shapewear design at Maidenform Brands.


“You get used to the feeling of Lycra,” she said. “It’s kind of like the feeling of a hug:
reassuring. You can feel better wearing a waist nipper and have that feelin
g that you’re all put
together...it also helps support the skin and muscles.”


Heather Thomson
-
Schindler, founder of the three
-
year
-
old Yummie Tummie brand, said she
created the line because she was unable to find shapewear that was comfortable and
contem
porary looking.


“I could only find traditional shapewear and just the thought of wearing it deflated my
confidence,” she said. “Feeling good about yourself is as important as looking good. It just gives
you that much more pop in your step. There are tons

of product options now because of
technology…not something out of a torture chamber.


“Shapewear is still selling, even during the economic downturn, because it’s affordable,”
Thomson
-
Schindler added. “The media is constantly selling the perfect face, ha
ir and figure, and
shapewear is an entry point to that arena without the plastic surgery.”


Women of all ages and sizes are wearing shapers as a fashion accessory, too.


“Women want it all


they want shaping, slimming and smoothing with a touch of femin
inity
and fashion,” said Kathy Van Ness, president of Body Wrap and chief marketing officer and
division president of parent company Trimera Group. She singled out bestsellers: The
Slenderizer, a strapless bra slip with underwire bra; Sheer Iridesscent Mus
t Slip, a multiway bra
slip; The All Inclusive, a long
-
leg bodysuit with underwire bra; The Catwalk High
-
Waist long
-
leg panty; The Superior Derriere High
-
Waist panty, and The Pinup bodysuit with underwire bra.


Van Ness said shapewear has become such an i
mportant category that Body Wrap is “preparing
to launch a social media campaign that will include a blog and newsroom, a Facebook ad
campaign and an improved presence on Twitter and YouTube, with search engine optimization.”


Addressing body image and th
e role shapewear plays, image consultant Kelly Machbitz said
“Body image affects how you feel about yourself. It’s an important factor in self
-
esteem for
women and men…when you have a better attitude about your body, you just naturally have more
confidence
. Enhancement undergarments that help to reduce your dress or suit size, smooth your
bulges, lift what sags and straighten your posture can most definitely have a positive effect.


“Shapewear certainly plays a part in my wardrobe recommendations for all m
y clients, but more
for fit issues


although looking younger and slimmer is a great side benefit,” she continued.
“And just as there has been an increase in the sale of men’s grooming products and plastic
surgery procedures in recent years, there are more

men turning to undergarments to make their
bodies appear sleeker and firmer.”


A caveat, though: Jennifer Baumgartner, a psychologist who specializes in mood, anxiety and
eating disorders, said relying on shapewear to look good and feel good can have dra
wbacks.


“When people have extra weight on, they don’t like the feeling of their flesh jiggling and
shapewear often eliminates that,” she said. “Shapewear can offer a sense of security, but it’s a
crutch and a quick fix. It can actually become addicting.”

From WWD

C Luxury New York office

July 25, 2011

RTW market Monitoring & Analysis