Secret ingredients to the shapewear company’s success.
As of January this year, American style icon Kim Kardashian’s shapewear and underwear brand SKIMS is worth US$3.2 billion after raising US$240 million from investors. Though it was embroiled in controversy when it was initially launched, where its original name KIMONO was perceived as culturally insensitive to the traditional Japanese garment, it has now grown into one of the most successful apparel labels in the world.
How did it become so successful? Let’s explore some of the factors.
SKIMS started out as a shapewear brand whose conception arose from Kardashian’s own struggle to find shapewear that fit her well and comfortably. “Having that perfect first layer gives me the confidence to wear outfits that I might not wear otherwise… and freedom to experiment and try new things is what makes fashion so much fun,” she told Nordstrom, one of the many department store chains that sell her label. She believed that shapewear could enhance her figure and create a more flattering shape when she wore tight, form-fitting outfits. SKIMS’ first launch sold out within minutes, with a profit of over US$2 million.
Recent pandemic lockdowns mean that consumers have less of a need for shapewear as they have less opportunity to squeeze into tight-fitting fancy clothes and go out. Yet, SKIMS has been able to quickly adapt to consumers’ needs. In 2021, it was able to raise over US$154 million in new funding, which lifted its valuation to US$1.6 billion. Despite its core focus on solutions-oriented garments, it also benefited from a well-timed introduction of pajamas and loungewear, with product lines such as the “Cozy Collection”. Also, each new drop is centered around one specific comfortable fabric, such as jacquard, velour and cotton. This has boosted SKIMS’ appeal to a wider audience and has ensured its ability to capture market share from shifting to in-demand product areas.
SKIMS has also been busy planning partnerships and collaborations with other popular brands to drum up hype and get customers excited. Skims’s limited-edition collaboration with Fendi, which dropped in October 2021, brought in more than US$1 million in sales within a minute of its release. The “first of its kind” partnership combined the luxury of Fendi with the innovation of SKIMS. Logo-printed items, such as the US$395 swimsuits and US$4,200 leather dresses, were the most popular both inside and outside the United States, according to SKIMS chief executive officer Jens Grede.
SKIMS also designed a line of loungewear and undergarments for all the female members of Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. It also did the same during the Beijing Winter Olympics in February 2022. “Team USA’s first collection with SKIMS was a huge hit with both athletes and fans, and we’re thrilled to bring another collection to life as we head into the Winter Games. This new collection features warmer materials, bringing extra comfort to Team USA’s athletes as they compete in cooler temperatures,” said Peter Zeytoonjian, Senior Vice President of U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Properties.
The brand’s image breaks from traditional lingerie labels, such as Victoria’s Secret, which sells itself on exclusivity. Instead, the brand is built on the foundation of body diversity.
“I wanted to create a brand that could be relied on as a true solution for how people dress today,” Kim Kardashian said in an interview. “It felt like a perfect time to bring a fresh perspective to the shapewear industry that would feel relevant for today.” She added, “Diversity and inclusivity are in our brand DNA. We started SKIMS with those two elements being front of mind and today they continue to be the driving forces behind ensuring that what we create is for everyone and everybody.”
True to her word, SKIMS’ line of products, which is modeled by women of all shapes and colors, reveals a vast range of sizes (from 2XS to 4XL) in diverse skin tones, providing better consumer choice. Inclusivity is also prioritized with a maternity range and the “Fits Everybody” collection, which has products made from molds-to-your-body fabric that stretches to twice its size, allowing consumers to wear throughout body changes and weight fluctuations.
Since launching more than two years ago, SKIMS has maintained interest and buzz, successfully propelling the aesthetic appeal of seamless silhouettes into mainstream pop culture. We look forward to what Kardashian offers next.
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Header image courtesy of SKIMS