FIGURE IT OUT It’s OK for women to talk about their shapewear.
From the red carpet to Oprah’s couch, Hollywood stars from Queen Latifah to Maria Bello are proudly talking about what they’re wearing under their clothes to help smooth out their trouble spots. At last year’s Oscars, for example, Latifah told reporters about more than her dress, announcing, “I’m wearing a Curvation [bra] and Spanx.”
Gwen Widell, executive vice president of merchandising at Wacoal America Inc., says, “I was watching the Golden Globes, and celebrities were all talking about wearing Spanx, or a longline bra. That wasn’t acceptable even a year ago. It’s working for shapewear because technological advances are allowing us to eliminate layers and remove bulk.”
Following the Spanx phenomenon, which started in 2000, and spread to Sculptz in 2003 and Cass & Co. and Sassybax in 2007, the segment has exploded in recent years. Oprah was a big factor in getting Spanx on the map in 2000 when she told viewers, “I’ve given up pantyhose. You get smoothness all the way down. You don’t have the panty line…OK….I should own some stock.” High-end players like Donna Karan Intimates have joined the field, as have established brands such as Wacoal, Playtex, Bali, Warners, Flexees, Jockey, Hanes, Body Wrap, Va Bien, Rago and QT.
Joyce Baran, a 30-year veteran of shapewear design and founder of product development firm JBD LLC, says, “People used to say shapewear was unmentionable. Now it’s bragable. You see it being talked about on the red carpet. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.” Baran has helped develop the Secret Weapons and Du-Mi brands.
In the past year, more than a dozen new shapewear brands have entered the field. Several are entrepreneurial firms headed by young designers who maintain they couldn’t find a shaper to properly address their figure problems — from eliminating belly bulge to smoothing out lines — so they decided to make their own.
“I designed the product for myself after my two babies were born,” says Heather Thomson, designer of Yummie Tummie. “There were all of these shapewear products out there, but they didn’t work. I wanted a beautiful control tank top to flatten my muffin top, and I wanted to be comfortable and look hip and cool. So I designed an item with two fabrics sewn together: 50-singles cotton and polyester-tricot. It can be worn under a jacket, and when the jacket is off, it looks very corseted.”
Staci Berner, a cosmetician, created Shapeez, a line of full-busted bras with extra coverage across the back to smooth bulges under knits and tight-fitting apparel. “There were a lot of tops I couldn’t wear, and I went on a shopping search and found nothing with the smoothing properties I wanted,” she says. “I had this stretchy fabric and took the components from a bra and made myself a great bra that gave breast support and no back bulges. In reality, if you can’t find it, make it.”
Other new brands include Secret Weapons, Slimpressions, Du-Mi, Top Secret, Sonic Slimmers, MMK Brands, T Mates, Squeem, Atateks, D’talles de Mujer, and Flabulous, a product designed to manage arm flab. In addition, Cosabella is expanding into shapewear this fall, with an eco-friendly bamboo-blend collection called Cosabella Smoothy.
Designers have a range of cutting-edge fabrics and applications at their disposal, with seamless and heatsealed technologies that offer feather light, breathable control items that move with the body and feel like a second skin. Bulging seams and boning that can produce unnatural contours and thick nylon or power mesh layers that move unflattering inches to other parts of the body are gone.
Among the innovative ideas are allover seamless Santoni knits that fit like a glove — a technology that has advanced over the past decade with a variety of textures and fashion prints that are now used industrywide from Target private label to luxe Natori fare. Other advancements include knit-in engineered control for problem areas like the tummy and thighs, lazer-cut edges that leave no lines, and dotted silicone compression insets and laminated control panels, which give extra control as well as a retro look.
The newest part of the equation is Invista’s Lycra 2.0 technology, which is aimed primarily at shapewear and provides heat-sealed banded hems, seams and bands with stretch and recovery for a sleek, all-day fit. There’s also a new generation of buttery-soft microfibers ranging from fabric and fibers made by Nylstar’s Italian brand Meryl, to Hyosung’s Creora brand of spandex and microfiber. But not all innovation centers around support itself. For example, Invista’s White Lycra, launched last year, doesn’t yellow after washings, while Black Lycra, introduced in 2007, imparts black fabrics with a purer black while enhancing bright colors. Lycra freshFX, meanwhile, wicks away moisture for a fresh, dry feeling.
Sizing up the shapewear phenomenon, Jessica Alba confessed in 2005 that in order to fit into her skin-tight blue suit in the motion picture “Fantastic Four,” she needed a shaper to look good at all times. “I have to hold my stomach in… it’s really not forgiving at all and if it’s that time of month, whatever, it shows everything. I wear this stuff called Spanx. I appreciate that.” — Karyn Monget
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion
Eighty degree temperatures and outdoor installations at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach called for bright, elevated beachwear. See more street style pictures on WWD.com. #theyarewearing #ABMB (📷: @lifeinreverie)
Following September’s emotional tribute to her brother Gianni, Donatella Versace wanted to bring the spring show’s deep sense of intimacy to her @versace_official pre-fall collection. Donatella found inspiration in Versace Palazzo in Milan and from Gianni’s opulent apartment. Archival patterns and new motifs were splashed on silk shirtdresses and fitted jersey frocks. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com. #wwdfashion
Demna Gvasalia continues to shake up the Paris fashion calendar — and experiment with new runway timetables for his @vetements_official brand. WWD has learned that Vetements plans to stage its next coed show for the fall 2018 season on January 19 during Men’s Fashion Week in the French capital. Details about the timing and venue have not been confirmed — stay tuned on WWD.com to catch the latest. #wwdnews (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)