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If you cringe at the thought of being laced up in a constricting corset or stuffed into a heavy-duty elastic control top, relax. Shapewear has lightened up lately.
This story first appeared in the July 26, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“Modern shapewear needs to be visionary, necessary and stylish, [using] simple, virtually seam-free shapes with ‘It’ girl appeal,” says Niki McMorrough, chief executive officer and creative director of Made by Niki, who attributes shapewear’s current popularity to society’s obsession with red-carpet, celebrity-inspired dressing. For a long time, the genre was steeped in the tradition of the Fifties, its biggest heyday when shapewear was all about power mesh and sculpting seams. “Shapewear almost dropped off the industry radar in the Eighties and Nineties, as lingerie became more concept led, focusing on fun, color, creativity and sensuality as opposed to practicality,” says McMorrough. And while today’s forms still evoke the retro pin-up look, the fabrics at play are cutting edge, endowed with invisible shaping properties and sophisticated technology that have elevated designs. Made by Niki’s Slinkies range, for instance, uses a moisture-wicking, temperature-controlling, antibacterial power knit designed to sculpt the body while keeping it fresh.
No longer is the category just for rounder women who are seeking “morphing wear,” says a spokeswoman for Wacoal, which for spring has added small sizes to its shapewear lines and introduced a G-string version of its best-selling Beauty Shaper.
Nor is shapewear limited to basics. For holiday, Eres has introduced the Leavers shapewear line in lace, which is “very stretchy, but at the same time retains tension,” says Valerie Delafosse, the label’s designer, who notes that comfort is key for modern shapewear, as women today don’t want to feel corseted or heavy. “For the high panty, I wanted something that could lift the bottom and hold in the stomach that was pretty, something I felt was missing from the market,” says Delafosse.
Wolford, which has been fine-tuning its functional shapewear offerings since the Seventies and develops most of its fabrics in-house, has gone beyond its traditional focus on legwear and introduced shapewear elements into its ready-to-wear and swimwear lines, as well.
“For our swimsuits, we’re using fabrics that are very functional, but you can’t see it,” says Martina Brown, the brand’s head of marketing, who says demand today is for functional product with decorative elements and secret shaping functions.
Among Wolford’s new Shape & Control hosiery launches for spring is its fishnet Tate Control Top Tights. Using a special knitting technology, the tights have a built-in control panty designed not to leave imprints on the skin. — Katya Foreman