SHAPEWEAR: REDEFINED

BY RIYA KRISHNAN

BY RIYA KRISHNAN

5.6.22

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Lizzo, queen of self-confidence, serotonin-boosting musical genius, and arguably the face of modern body positivity, has launched shapewear.

Although it has been a childhood dream of Lizzo’s, a shapewear brand is also the kind of thing that could be seen as slightly off-brand and outdated, since the implications of traditional shapewear are that our bodies need to be “fixed” in some way. However, Lizzo’s line aims to be anything but traditional: she’s trying to change the goal of shapewear itself.

Lizzo’s line Yitty was launched on April 12th in collaboration with athleisure company Fabletics, and features three collections ranging in compression level. The brand is sold both online and in 76 stores across the US. Each collection reflects a sense of boldness and color, featuring neon bodysuits and printed leggings. The sizes range from XS to 6X, and prices range from $15 to $70, making the brand more accessible when compared to brands like Lululemon or Skims. According to Lizzo, Yitty’s goal is to allow shapewear to be worn as an outfit in itself, rather than concealed under presentable clothing, and to “take the shame out of shapewear by infusing the category with fashion.”

Lizzo’s launching of Yitty joins a trend in the shapewear industry that has fueled unexpected growth over the past three years- the formerly “hush-hush” category is now being designed to be seen.

The shapewear industry, which has generated over $600 million in U.S. sales in 2021, has increasingly been expanding their offerings, moving beyond the nude lace shorts that many women have relied on. A lot of this expansion can be credited to Kim Kardashian’s shapewear line, Skims, which over the past nine months has doubled its valuation from $1.6 to $3.2 billion. Skims’ appeal is its emphasis on timeless, everyday-wear pieces like black turtlenecks or slip dresses and barely-there compression technology that make items both functional and flattering. For other shapewear brands like Shapermint, shapewear includes everything from faux leather pants to tube dresses. Diverse women’s fashion retailers like Aritzia have entered into shapewear with it’s Contour Collection, featuring fitted crop tops and bodysuits but not a waist-trainer in sight, blurring the lines between what’s shapewear and what’s just “anythingwear”.

The technology that defines shapewear itself is also becoming more liberating. Instead of applying equal pressure across the garment, compression panels are being placed in smaller, more targeted areas, with less compression in areas that require flexibility, such as the rib cage and legs. The result is seamless shapewear that moves with the body’s skeletal and muscle system instead of pushing against it.

The shapewear industry is evolving rapidly, and is estimated to hit $7 billion by 2030- up from $2 billion in 2020. The industry’s potential reflects the fact that shapewear is no longer a narrowly defined section of retail, or its own section at all. According to Kristen Classi-Zummo, analyst at market research firm NPD group, “Growth within shapewear is coming from brands that are offering less structured, more versatile options that provide everyday shaping benefits.” Shapewear’s rise is looking more and more like the rise of athleisure: a similar retail category that boomed because people could wear it as innerwear, loungewear, or a perfectly fashionable outfit in itself. And with brands like Yitty prioritizing self-expression and functionality, shapewear is finally getting a makeover that is long overdue.