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Experts: Celebrities boost shapewear sales

Category: Correction underwear April 23rd, 2010
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Beyonce's shapewear-like costumes inspire women to buy shapewear

Thanks to such celebrities as Rihanna, Lady GaGa, Beyonce and some others, shapewear is gloriously back on store racks.

According to, annual retail sales of shapewear grew 10.6 percent to $848.3 million from March 2009 to February 2010, and unit sales increased 3.8 percent during that period, The NPD Group research consultancy has revealed.

Furthermore, sales of shapewear undergarments of plus sizes XL to XXXL or larger gained 14.8 percent last year.

Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Beyonce are huge in this [lingerie-shapewear] equation,” Robert Thompson, professor of television and pop culture at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, said. “There has to be something of a fashion authority, something that shows people looking good in what they’re wearing, whether it’s prime time TV, a fashion show in Paris or an ad in Vogue.

If it goes to the extreme item such as Lady Gaga or Rihanna wearing foundations, you will see a huge interest all of a sudden in something like a corset. That’s when it gets to be a smoking gun.…As brilliant as Mad Men is about Americans in the early Sixties — the show makes old Fifties girdles look so fabulous under clothing — it’s more brilliant as an ad for undergarments.”

Lady GaGa's stage costumes and off-stage style boost shapewear sales

Shapewear retailers also say that such TV shows as Mad Men, Diary of a Call Girl, The Tudors, and Desperate Housewives add to the total obsession with smoothing underpinning, alongside such award ceremonies as Grammys and American Music Awards where female celebrities willingly pose on the redcarpet and gush to reporters that they’re wearing shapers under their evening gowns.

We are having a lot of requests from department stores and smaller specialty stores for shapewear that goes up to XXL. The category in larger sizes has really gained momentum because shapewear has become such a hot button,” Bob Vitale from Wacoal America, said, adding that the company saw shapewear as their biggest area of growth for the next three years.

Rihanna's style boosts shapewear sales

Wacoal America is echoed by Bare Necessities that also sees rise in plus-size shapewear sales:

We started seeing this happening about two years ago with red carpet-ready celebrities saying, ‘I’ve got my Spanx on.’ It also became a secret weapon for celebrity stylists, and shapewear came out of the closet. Our shapewear business is doing very well, and our plus-size shapewear business is ahead by 25 to 30 percent over the past year. It’s not necessarily about being smaller; it’s about making you look smooth.”

Experts also say the new materials used and new technologies applied make shapewear a must-have in lingerie wardrobes of many women.

Lycra spandex, microfibers, and antibacterial and moisture-repellent applications have been very important,” said Juan Duque, president of the North American division of Leonisa. “We have seen 50 percent growth over the past year in the U.S. market, and we believe the potential for shapewear is still not tapped.”


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