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How corrective things like Spanx and Skims have gone from lingerie to high fashion

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“CRAZY that nature has a bad sense of humor, ”Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Robert Ray told Women’s Wear Daily in 2007. The star of the reality show “Dr. 90210 “continued:” Even the thinnest women have love handles. ” Its then a new brand, Dr. Rey’s Shapewear, was conceived to “help” women achieve the kind of weight loss he practiced surgically. At the time, corrective items – elastic, often compressed underwear designed to straighten the figure – were a corrective tool that needed to be hidden under ordinary clothing. Just as you don’t go to work with visible acne cream on your chin, you don’t dare go outside with visible corrective clothing and don’t even discuss it. Dr. Ray’s quote highlighted the infamous nature of the product at the time. Requests for comment were not answered in the doctor’s office.

In 2021, corrective clothing could not be more noticeable. Millions of American women not only rely on it as their underwear, but also playing on it has become an unexpected trend. Thanks in large part to Skims, a grand $ 1.6 billion worth of correctives company Kim Kardashian West launched in 2019, compression bodysuits, tops and leggings have become incredibly popular as genuine clothing. One of the most fashionable women’s outfits this summer was a black, brown or beige bodysuit with a high neckline, which is worn with a pair of denim cuts. And in TikTok you can see fans of the Gen-Z adjustment, dressed in bodysuits and leggings that spin like a lot of sleek baby seals.

Brands adjusting clothing that brought in more than $ 500 million in U.S. sales in 2019, according to market research firm NPD Group, are increasingly expanding their offerings by going beyond the nude shorts that some women wear under dresses for the event . Now that the niche includes compression leggings, shorts, bodysuits, ultra-elastic pants, tube dresses and even tight t-shirts, it’s hard to figure out what corrective clothing is and what it is … anything. To describe the feeling she hopes women feel in their products, Kim Kardashian West suggests an adjective: “I always say the word ‘pulled out’ to make you feel together and confident.”

Shapermint manufactures leggings and tanks in extended series; Commando designs crop tops and faux leather leggings; and classic supplier Wolford has earned the reputation of a bodysuit that stylists want. Brave Spanx, founded in 2000 by Sarah Blakely and originally a favorite for outerwear, has also found success in her pants, jeans, skirts, etc. For years, Ms. Blakely said, women who recognized her at airports and in queues at the car and wanted to make contact had to “shine” on her in her underwear. Now, she added, it is interesting to see so many of her designs in the world easier on display. Many parts of corrective products, including those from Skims and Spanx, cost less than $ 100.

Kim Kardashian West has arrived for this year’s Met Gala in Balenciaga and Skims.


Photo:

Getty Images

Smoothing, tight-fitting layers are also coming into vogue on the runway, possibly caused by this moment of adjustment. Saint Laurent produces pants with a high waist. Luxury bodysuits are widely represented in brands such as Givenchy, Gucci and Versace. French designer Marine Serre has made branded printed costumes. This month at the Met Gala in New York City, artist Ella Emhoff and actor Julia Garner wore images designed by Stella McCartney that included bodysuits. And Ms. Kardashian West wore a tight black Balenciaga face that looked amazing as a continuation of her Skims aesthetics in shrink film. In fact, she told me that underneath it were donned Skims sculptural leggings to complete the image. She cut holes in the bottom of her pants to make makeshift stirrups for a continuous line, which gave her the idea to make stirrup leggings in the future.

These elastic products, designed for demonstration, share the DNA of bodysuits, cardigans and leggings that the late Franco-Tunisian designer Azedine Alaya began producing in the early 1980s. In 1986, he designed a collection of hugging dresses inspired by Egyptian mummy headbands. This particular trend embodies a paradox that can be attributed to itself – the desire to be both restrained and covered, wanting to show their curves.

In December 2020, Skims began selling its designs at Ssense, an avant-garde Montreal e-commerce site that testifies to its fashion ambitions as well as a new notable role for elastic clothing in the spirit of the times. Ssense vice president of women’s clothing Bridget Chartran said that from the beginning, Covid’s category of lingerie on the site has been actively developing, “so it was the perfect time to introduce Skims.” At the launch, bright photographer Sandy Kim photographed Kim Kardashian West in comfortable Skims socks and outfits, posing in a silky wonderland similar to the uterus. Ms. Chartran said Ms. Kardashian West telegraphed that today “wearing corrects is not what you hide, it’s what you are proud of and what you show”.

It makes sense that women reach for details that are elastic enough to fall apart on the couch, but polished enough to wear out. Catherine Golden, 36, director general of the Nurses Inspire Nurses Nurses Support Community in Plymouth, Michigan, said pants with leggings are more acceptable than ever because “fashion has changed a lot, especially after COVID and home lifestyles.” . She herself owns 10 pairs of Spanx pants and bought pairs for all her employees for last Christmas. She wrote on the postcard: “If we are going to work out our examples, they can also look good.”

If you are confused by the notion that wearing corrective clothing is like real clothing outside the home, think of it as the basic building block for creating an outfit. Ms. Kardashian West, who wears her own Skims bodysuit “all the time,” said, “They’re a clean canvas, a clean sheet, they just perfect any basic part of your outfit you want to wear.” According to her, they can be applied under clear details, such as leather pants. In a similar vein, the French vintage e-commerce site Resee often combines sophisticated designer items with simple black or white Wolford bodysuits to give them a neutral basis. This is a trick taken from the plays of its co-founder, former stylist Sabrina Marshall.

Rajnie Jacques, head of fashion and beauty at the Snap social networking platform, noticed how the trend is spreading there as well as in real life. She herself wore sports bras with blazers or wore biker shorts that look like denim, and she said she has “an element of lightness while she’s still dressed up.” Her advice to beginners: try slender leggings under a more elegant jacket.

Influential North Carolina activist Josie Mitchell wears Skims from head to toe.


Photo:

Josie Mitchell

Although initially unwilling to “buy into the excitement” of the Kardashian-led campaign, Josie Mitchell, a 24-year-old influential social media figure in Raleigh, North Carolina, has since bought several pieces of Skims. The quality of her underwear, her first purchase, surprised her, said Ms. Mitchell, who purchased leggings, T-shirts and a dress from the brand. Now that the streets are cooler, she likes to wear matching outfits with denim jackets or wear them with jackets and heels to go out with friends.

It is noteworthy that modern brands of corrective clothing more often sell it as “smoothing” or “shaping” than “weight loss” or “thinning”. Unlike Dr. Robert Ray’s line in 2007, which was created to shave inches off her body by mimicking plastic surgery, items that women wear as real clothes are more subtly compressed. In today’s, slightly more positive for the body landscape, it’s hard to imagine anyone getting carried away with caffeinated slimming costumes, such as those produced by Norm Thompson Outfitters and Wacoal America in 2014. The FTC has fined both companies for misleading. claims. Their representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

No shortage of corsets and shorts that tighten the waist, with tight bellies, including examples from Spanx and Skims. But these are not the things that women wear to the grocery store and to dinner. Sarah Blakely stressed that even when she started Spanx in 2000, the problem was never “with the woman or her body, the problem was in her clothes … and in her underwear and in the way things were made”.

Importantly, these corrective clothing outfits are designed to make you feel good, not turn you into an unrealistic size to fit into a skimpy one-night dress. Kim Kardashian West spoke about her ultra-elastic silhouette of Balenciaga-and-Skims Met Ball in terms of comfort and confidence, not pure fairy tale. She explained: “Usually I am very nervous or insecure because of my appearance … and I hope people understand or like it. I would honestly say that this was one of the first times I didn’t care what anyone thought. “

Gains and corrections
An earlier version of this article said that in 2019, worldwide sales of corrective clothing amounted to more than $ 500 million, although in fact this figure is intended only for sales in the United States. (Corrected September 29)

The Wall Street Journal does not receive compensation from retailers listed in its articles as outlets. The listed retailers are often not the only outlets.

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