A Retailer's Guide to Successful Sell Compression Shapewear
- Issue Time
Shapewear is centered around evergreen staples that generate cash every season and are replenished when the retailer sells them. This makes it even more critical to get the styling right from the start.
Shapewear has had a tumultuous few years. Now, however, it is making a comeback, with a global market expected to reach $3.7 billion by 2028. The category has undergone a major revamp in response to lifestyle and cultural shifts, and now attracts more clients and celebrity-owned brands than ever before!
Shapewear is not a trend-driven category. In fact, it's centered around evergreen staples that generate cash every season and are replenished when the retailer sells them. This makes it even more critical to get the styling right from the start.
In April 2020, shapewear was one of the categories most affected by the epidemic, causing sales to plummet and discounts to increase. Now, there are several bright spots in the market. The U.S. restocking rate rose from 39% to 45% year-over-year, while the average markdown in the U.K. fell 4 percentage points to 33%.
The impact of COVID has seen styles evolve from strictly activewear to everyday wear, with core assortments including high-waisted briefs, bike shorts, and bodysuits.
The reshaping of fashion culture has led to retailers phasing out characterizing shapewear as “slimming.” Instead, the terms have been repositioned around 'smoothing', ‘help with dressing’, 'firming' and 'shaping' qualities, emphasizing seamless fit, comfort and support for all-occasion garments.
The need for inclusivity in shapewear needs to be reflected in nudes, which lack darker options across the market. There's also an opportunity to innovate in lightweight, moisture-wicking shapewear that can support postpartum bodies without the stress of a "quick recovery" that's been marketed to women.
Why Retailers Should Take Note of Compression Shapewear?
Increased Replenishment Rate
Compression shapewear is typically immune to seasonal trends, with businesses relying on replenishment orders for their core styles to move inventory. A fresh design is great for re-engaging customers with this type of product. Due to COVID, however, retailers are wary of investing too much in products outside of their tried-and-true styles - new arrivals have only risen 2% over the past six months compared to the previous period. Nonetheless, the UK restock rate remained steady at 23% year-over-year, while the US increased from 39% to 45%.
Meanwhile, shapewear saw fewer price cuts than a year ago. In 2021, only 4% of U.S. styles were advertised as on sale, with 51% being the average discount depth applied. While 18% of shapewear is now marked down, the depth of discounts has dropped to a more conservative 36%. In the UK, the percentage of discounts has fallen from 39% to 28%, and the average depth of discounts has dropped from 37% to 33%.
Event is Back
As most categories have experienced, the pandemic has accelerated the casualization of shapewear into everyday items. However, there will still be demand for more traditional styles, adding to the return of occasion and bridal wear.
Googling More Than Activewear
The global activewear market will be worth an estimated $353.5 billion in 2020, clearly dwarfing shapewear. Still, searches for solution apparel have increased globally in the last year, suggesting customers are trying to learn more about shape and fit in the category, and are in the market for it.
A Trend Shift in Compression Shapewear
As the body acceptance movement sweeps the industry, categories are being reimagined to be more inclusive. While shapewear products with slimming or waist-cinching features are still on the market, some brands have moved away from advertising products to fix or conceal the body. Only 9% of items in stock carry the word "weight loss," compared with 12% a year ago. Instead, retailers marketed shapewear with comfort in mind, with 29% of products in the US and 27% in the UK carrying this descriptor.
With many brands turning shapewear into a lifestyle category, products described as "seamless" and "every day" are essential in the US market. UK retailers took a more traditional approach to shapewear, with 38% of styles described as offering "control" and "dressing assistance" features, and 32% with smoothing features.
Development Areas of Compression Shapewear
Similar to lingerie, the overall shapewear market lacks an inclusive neutral palette, especially in the UK. This shows that emerging brands need to diversify their categories. Traditional businesses and mass-market retailers will need to up their game or risk losing business to these brands that are more aligned with modern customer values.
With comfort being a defining feature of shapewear, retailers need to prioritize innovation with lightweight second-skin materials.
Maternity and Postpartum
A compression garment can provide lower back support and relieve pain from swelling during pregnancy. There's also a market for shapewear to support postpartum moms, with less focus on waist trainers that help the body recover and more on helping with gentle recovery. Sheinshaper stands out as a core brand offering shapewear for C-sections that emphasize your natural curves while minimizing or hiding those parts you don't usually like when you wear tight clothing.
Help With Dressing
As compression and support features benefit everyday products, retailers have been working to help women get dressed. Compression shapewear can be a type of underwear that helps temporarily shape and smooth the body by compressing the body and redistributing flesh. Thus making compression shapewear more every day. Although compression shapewear won't make you lose weight, it will show you what you would look like if you did. As such, it can be an excellent motivation to eat healthier and exercise more.