Like many people raised during the Spanx-dominated era, which placed several generations of women in new light beige girdles from the late 90s to the early 2000s, Lizzo has bad memories of compression garments.
“As soon as I started learning to be ashamed of my body, I was in shapewear,” the 33-year-old musician said in a video interview last week. “I was in the belt and I was bandaging my stomach.” She wore clothes with plastic boning, she recalls, “and it broke halfway through school, [and] like, cut into my skin. I take it off at the end of the day, and I bleed, and [the undergarment] broken skin, and I’m like, I am in seventh gradeShe normalized it, she said. “I thought it was super normal to be so dissatisfied and so willing to hide my body.”
In the years that followed, Lizzo – who was born Melissa Jefferson – “started to discover my self-esteem” and “went completely in the opposite direction”. You know, “I stopped trying to hide. I stopped wearing bras and even fucking panties.
Then she “got trendy,” she said, and started thinking about her body in an even more pleasurable, playful, and nuanced way. “I started having fun with my body shape. And now that I’m really enjoying my body, there’s nothing to hide. So now she’s looking for revenge, in a way, for the pieces that hurt her so long ago: she wants to revolutionize the shapewear industry with her own brand, Yitty.
Although the very foundation of shapewear is shame – it is clothing, after all, that smoothes and compresses parts of our bodies that an unknown entity deems unattractive – Lizzo believes it has the potential to be empowering. That’s the idea behind Yitty’s shapewear, she said, “It’s not a bad thing if I don’t use it to hurt my body.” It’s not about making your clothes smooth and “perfect”. “It’s about owning your physical presence, your identity in this world,” she said. “And don’t let a piece of clothing dictate how you should feel about your body. You say to the garment, “This is how I feel about my body today. If you want to emphasize a “Coke bottle” shape, you can do that one day, and the next, an apple silhouette. “We give the consumer the autonomy to choose different levels of compression and style. They are really the ones who make the decisions. They are the boss. You know, it’s in their hands.
Wearing a bright pink t-shirt from the line, Lizzo opened up about how she really grew the brand, which had been in the works for “a long time”, she said. She partnered with Fabletics, the active brand founded by Kate Hudson in 2013. “A lot of the technology was already built in,” she said of their selection of fabrics, which vary in compression strength and come in a multitude of skin tones.
Almost everything she suggested, Lizzo said, Fabletics told her, “we already know how to do this.” She met several other investors who did not understand the scope of her vision, or offered her to make a capsule. Yitty, whose first drop arrives April 12, will include three collections to start: Nearly Naked, “designed to comfortably shape and firm your natural curves all day long,” according to a press release; Mesh Me, models of which can be worn as underwear or outerwear; and Major Label, which includes lifestyle pieces. Yitty’s sizing will range from a 6X to an extra small.
The most intriguing, which is to say perhaps the most revolutionary, garments are garments intended to be worn as outerwear. “I was like, I want to create a product that even if you see it, it’s not shameful. It’s not embarrassing. It’s actually sexy and liberating and you could take your shirt off and say, “Yeah, I gotta have a bright blue bra or a shaper bra or whatever under my shirt.” And even if you wanna go to the club, you can take off your work clothes and you’ll be in full shape. below.
As clothing manufacturing has become faster and more globalized, designed not for living life but for lookability, clothing itself has become less fitted. The promise of non-riding T-shirts, tops, underwear and bras is as revolutionary as Lizzo proclaims. “I would walk through the mall already defeated because I knew I was only going to find jewelry that day,” she recalled. “And the industry is changing to bigger bodies. But very slowly.
And although shapewear brands are a booming fashion market, Yitty appears at an important inflection point in the body positivity movement. (Remember when the internet got debased debating Rihanna’s “going thicc”? That was only four years ago. Oops.) size in their stores. Shapewear is always focused on achieving an idealized shape, and elevating it, through brands like Kim Kardashians Skims, which was recently valued at over $3 billion, and Fenty, Rihanna’s best-selling underwear brand, happened alongside a new prominence of silhouettes in fashion that emphasize fitness. Designers like Nensi Dojaka and LaQuan Smith tightly trace and shape the lines of a wearer’s body into living form, while revealing styles from brands like Miu Miu, with their crop tops and skintight miniskirts, are as much about what the cover ups like what they don’t.
For Lizzo, the shapewear boom predates these runway trends: Athleisure, she pointed out, “had been a trend, then it became a staple. Like dressing to train , but we weren’t training. And it’s a look: you put on jewelry, a nice sneaker, a messy bun, and you go get your coffee. It’s an aesthetic. I think showing your sexy body is a good thing. Not so long ago, yoga pants and leggings were “shocking in public”. Now, they are the aspirational uniform of every influencer and celebrity. Moreover, while catwalk fashion continues to infiltrate fast fashion designs, bodycon dresses remain the standard shapes on sites like Shein and Fashion Nova.
Still, many fashion watchers fear the industry is returning to a time when bodies themselves were trends. Lizzo resisted this assessment: “I think, first of all, all bodies are beautiful, and thin girls are beautiful and deserve to be role models, just like tall girls and girls in between. ” But many of these silhouettes, Lizzo pointed out, clearly reference the early 2000s, when an ultra-skinny body type was promoted by the fashion industry as both an aspiration and a standard. “I think people believe that because, you know, it was popular in the early 2000s and it was on a certain body type in the early 2000s, that it should be like that now. But this is not true. She recalled a friend, a size fourteen, who had recently cut the belt off her jeans, wore the belt high and the jeans low rise. “I think it’s going to be interesting to see how we rebel,” she said, “against what they think they’re doing — I think you think like, Oh, because those are the styles which are popular, now these are the bodies which must be.
“It’s not going to happen like that.” At least in Yitty’s world.
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