Vendors are busy plotting a comeback for shapewear at the CurveNY trade show, which starts Sunday at the Jacob K. Javits Center.
While overall women’s shapewear sales have generally been seen on the wane, brands at the three-day trade show are looking to build momentum by offering retailers reenergized assortments and new styles.
“As a category, shapewear has experienced a tough period of readjustment after a burst of new product flooded the market, which led to a glut,” said Susan Malinowski, vice president of marketing at Wacoal. “Now the category is poised for new healthy growth and we are ready for it.”
At CurveNY, Wacoal will introduce Zoned 4 Shape, a five-piece shapewear collection that features innovative knitted fabrications with four seamless shaping zones. According to Malinowski, the pieces combine lightness, comfort and performance.
The brand will also launch its Visual Effects bodysuit, camisole and all-in-one, which all have moderate to firm control. Each piece pairs with Wacoal’s new minimizing bra.
Comfort is a key marketing message for Heather Thomson’s brand Yummie by Heather Thomson, which was originally named Yummie Tummie. Thomson launched her shapewear-focused line in 2008 when the category was hot and said she’s been able to maintain sales and thrive by providing shoppers with shapewear they want to wear instead of shapewear they think they have to wear.
“Our business continues to see healthy growth in a category that’s down-trending,” said Thomson. “While everyone else was focusing on occasion-based pieces that were geared to ‘suck you in,’ we brought shapewear out of the closet and offered comfortable pieces perfect for everyday wear.”
Thomson told WWD that shapewear sales have remained steady, but she’s seen growth in her nonshaping items such as ready-to-wear. At CurveNY, the brand will showcase intimates and more loungewear, which Thomson said is an important category as its holiday sales were up 9 percent.
While other shapewear brands target comfort with seamless and light control options, Eric Crawford, the national sales manager at shapewear company TC Intimates, said his brand hasn’t ventured into those categories and is instead further developing its cut-and-sew pieces that are known for their firm control and compression.
Crawford also noted that TC Intimates has worked to elevate its brand image over the past two years by injecting new fabrics and paring down silhouettes so they create less bulk. “We’ve tried to clean up our appearance and simplify our message to the consumer,” said Crawford, who added that the company has experienced growth.
For CurveNY, the brand will continue to present its patented Back Magic technology that offers high levels of compression without using multiple layers of fabric that can create bulk and get hot during warmer months.
Crawford said he’s also seeing strong performance with TC Intimate’s waist-cinchers, a corsetry-inspired type of shapewear that’s gained favor with curvy women on Instagram, including the Kardashians.
The waist trainer-cincher category is also a bright spot for Leonisa, a Colombia-based intimate apparel brand that entered the U.S. market 10 years ago. According to Octavio Quintana, Leonisa’s vice president of North America, women are wearing the piece under their clothes and while they work out.
Leonisa, which Quintana said had its best year ever in 2015 with a 30 percent sales increase, offers men’s and women’s shapewear, activewear and swimwear that’s integrated with four levels of control (supercomfy, moderate, firm and extra firm control) and made from trademarked materials.
The brand — which lends a dose of sexy to even its postpartum panties with an adjustable belly wrap or its back support control tanks — will launch its 60-year anniversary limited-edition collection and its first premium swim collection and plus-size line at CurveNY.
Triumph, a Switzerland-based lingerie brand that’s been pushing into the U.S. market, saw declining shapewear sales until it started to offer sexy lingerie that was integrated with shaping, said John Gorman, the general manager of Triumph U.S.
“I’ve heard that shapewear is soft overall, but our shapewear sales continue to increase very rapidly,” said Gorman.
Triumph’s best-selling shapewear are its shaping panties and body styles that are made with lace, sheer panels and underwire cups so the pieces can second as lingerie.
“We provide shapewear. This is not the same as selling garments that squash her to appear smaller and shaped in an uneven manner,” said Gorman. “Triumph shapewear alters your shape to be more the way you want it to be.”