LONDON — Heist is shaping up to becoming more than a tights company, claiming a stake as a lingerie and shapewear brand, too. On Tuesday, the direct-to-consumer brand will launch its first pair of underwear, The High Waist, which uses the same shapewear technology as its bodysuit that launched in November.
The brand has already amassed a substantial customer base since its 2015 launch, and says it sells one pair of tights every 15 seconds. To date it has raised $8.1 million, with investors including Natalie Massenet, founder of Net-a-porter; Bella Freud; Pembroke VCT, and the founders of Innocent Drinks company.
The company also plans later this year to introduce an updated version of its bodysuit.
Heist believes it takes an innovative approach to design and tries to use the latest technology. The company’s vice president of innovation is Fiona Fairhurst, the woman who developed the Speedo Sharkskin swimsuit in 1996. While creating the Speedo swimsuit, Fairhurst inadvertently made a fabric that made the customer’s waist appear slimmer. She tackled shapewear in a similar way.
Fairhurst said she wanted to make a product that would be easy to put on and take off, one that was breathable and wouldn’t dig into, or chafe, the skin. “I also wanted to create a product that was stealth-like, something that people can forget they are wearing,” she said.
Having looked at actual shark skin to mimic its qualities for swimmers, Fairhurst took a similar approach to creating shapewear. She examined human anatomy and read the latest findings on fascia, the soft connective tissue between the skin and the muscles. “Without our fascia we would be blobs. We would have no shape. My lightbulb moment was that I wanted a membrane and a structure that would mimic our fascia,” she explained.
Her bodysuit features a large panel that wraps around the torso, mimicking the lines of fascia and the structure of the abdomen. She refers to the panel as a membrane and describes it as a “jelly matrix,” for its ability to stretch yet retain its shape.
Each membrane panel has at least 20,000 perforations for breathability and, according to Fairhurst, the structure is so successful in retaining its shape that even women with large cup sizes can be comfortable and supported. It also claims to takes two to five centimeters off the waist.
In February, Heist will launch a revamped version of the bodysuit in a range of neutral shades and an extra-small size retailing at 95 pounds.
Heist said the bodysuit has been a hit so far and, as a result, the brand is launching its shapewear underwear this month. It is constructed from the same fascia panels as the bodysuit. The high-waisted underwear will retail at 55 pounds and the regular waist version will retail at 45 pounds.
In order to avoid using silicone to hold up the waist, the underwear comes with straps. “We just got really blunt and said we’ll have straps so it doesn’t roll down, then we got really clever and made the straps for multiway purposes, for cross back or single strap,” Fairhurst said adding that Heist’s products are “designed by women for women.”
To wit, the brand no longer works with commercial fit models. “We are only working with our consumers. These are the people who buy the product so it makes sense to work with them and for them,” she said.
Heist said it welcomes feedback and engages face to face with consumers. It is looking to do more pop-ups after the success of a Covent Garden pop-up in September.