LOS ANGELES — Building on its recent forays into women’s swimwear and men’s products, shapewear company Spanx is keeping the momentum going with a new category launch today: control tops that can be worn as ready-to-wear.

This story first appeared in the May 10, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The collection, called On Top and In Control, consists of eight styles — including a long-sleeve turtleneck, V-neck and crew neck, a three-quarter bateau-neck top and four sleeveless designs. Priced from $68 to $118 at retail, the tops will launch exclusively on spanx.com.

Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, said the company is developing additional outerwear products and the next launch will be “a new take on a classic item.”

Blakely explained the product launches are driven by consumer demand.

“Being privately owned, all our growth comes from customer need, rather than shareholder pressure to expand,” said Blakely on a recent trip to Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, Blakely said she decided to enter the men’s wear market this spring after receiving hundreds of e-mails over the past several years from men requesting their own products that smooth and support problem areas.

She noted that stylists have been using women’s shapewear products on male musicians for videos and live performances to make them look slim and sexy.

“Recently, there had been a groundswell in the demand because of changing men’s fashions, so we set out to reinvent the undershirt,” she said.

The result was a cotton compression T-shirt that comes in both crewneck and V-neck styles, as well as a tank, retailing for $58 and $55, respectively. The men’s line was launched in Neiman Marcus stores on March 15. The product aims to firm the chest, flatten the stomach, improve posture and eliminate bulk under clothes.

“It has performed way beyond our wildest expectations, selling out in Neiman Marcus within one week,” said Blakely. She added there is a six-week waiting list for the product on spanx.com. Already, the men’s items are among the top 10 bestsellers among Spanx’s 200-item product range.

“I could see this being on par with the women’s business eventually,” said Blakely. The men’s line began selling at Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s this month. About 60 percent of the purchasers are men buying for themselves, and some are wearing the shirts on their own to show off already toned physiques, she said.

Among Spanx’s other recent launches are the Skinny Britches hipsters and shorts, lightweight pieces in fashion colors that can be layered for different levels of support.

Spanx is a leading shapewear brand in the Philippines, Singapore and Korea, and has launched in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Germany and Australia, according to Blakely.

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