Kim Kardashian’s billionaire brand braves pandemic

Kim Kardashian West in one of her Skims brand stores

Not long after that Kim Kardashian West will throw Skims, its body-shaping apparel brand, or “ shapewear, ” in 2019, the closures caused by the pandemic downgraded its product line to reduce the silhouette to the bottom of consumers’ closets.

Skims survived, however. It is even one billion dollar company

The company has collected $ 154 million in new financing, which has increased its valuation to $ 1.6 billion, according to Kardashian West. This is an intoxicating amount for a clothing brand less than two years old, even if it is a company run by a celebrity of his caliber.

It also confirms Kardashian West’s status as an independent billionaire. When Forbes announced his entry into that club this week, he estimated Skims’ worth at much less than that. Kardashian West remains Skims’s largest shareholder after the operation, and she and her partner, Jens Grede, will have a majority stake.

El socio de Kim Kardashian, Jens Grede
El socio de Kim Kardashian, Jens Grede

Skims has benefited from the timely introduction of pajamas and nightwear, with product lines such as the “cozy collection” increasing sales as women have moved from skinny to jogging pants. Nevertheless, shaping garments made Skims famous and they remain the core product line of the company.

“We are the base to go to”Kardashian West said in an interview by Zoom while preparing for a photo shoot, although “we are still able to keep the core of shapewear.”

Kardashian West said she was deeply involved with Skims, from helping design the fabrics and collections to choosing photographers for product photo shoots and studying sales data. (And like most of what Kardashian does, Skims has at times been a family affair: Kanye West, the husband of Kardashian West, from whom she is now divorced, was initially “ heavily involved, ” when he openly criticized early designs. Skims packaging, she said.)

Skims is one of the new apparel brands that have started e-commerce – a group that also includes Heist Studios and Honeylove – that has discovered an opportunity in the shapewear industry, which for decades has been predominantly dominated by one company, Spanx. Before 2020, when shapewear sales were down 30 percent, the category consistently generated just over $ 500 million in sales per year, or 3 percent of total apparel sales, according to NPD. Like other underwear companies, Skims focused on the younger segment of the market.

Items featured for sale in Kim Kardashian West's Skims popup in Los Angeles on April 7, 2021 (Greg Swales / The New York Times)
Items featured for sale in Kim Kardashian West’s Skims popup in Los Angeles on April 7, 2021 (Greg Swales / The New York Times)

Skims were defined with an emphasis on inclusivity and offer nine sizes, up to 5x, in as many skin tones. In its first nine weeks, it had amassed two million names on the waiting lists, Grede said. To date, Skims has sold more than four million copies, with more than 30 percent customer retention. Skims products are also sold in luxury department stores Nordstrom and Selfridges, UK, as well as various online retailers.

Skims faced challenges even before the pandemic. One of these was the work of Kardashian West himself: the company was initially called Kimono, until allegations of cultural appropriation prompted it to change the name. (“Although it seemed harmless to me, people didn’t see it that way,” he said).

In addition to the decline in shapewear sales during the pandemic, the company experienced delays in sourcing raw materials for its fabrics, making it more difficult to develop, manufacture and eventually sell new products.

“We had to find different factories and we were forced to get creative,” said Kardashian West. Still, Skims billed 145 million dollars last year and expects to double its sales this year all the way to $ 300 million.

Kim Kardashian West at her Skims pop-up in Los Angeles on April 7, 2021 (Greg Swales / The New York Times)
Kim Kardashian West at her Skims pop-up in Los Angeles on April 7, 2021 (Greg Swales / The New York Times)

Skims’ future depends on how the pandemic has reshaped the clothing market. “Shapewear, which is actually bought in the wake of an event, has gone down during the pandemic, and gone down significantly,” said Grede. He expects a future “rebalancing” of sales across all product categories, with demand rebounding. Signs from retailers like Anthropologie, who said last month that seven of the 10 best-selling items online were dresses, suggest shoppers may be planning to dress more formally again.

Kristen Classi-Zummo, an analyst at NPD, was more cautious and believed the category will recover, although customers accustomed to comfort will insist on easy-to-apply garments even as they return to adopt some aspects of shapewear .

“I think we will dress well again, but I think the look and feel will be different,” concluded Classi-Zummo.

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