Drops and diversity: how Skims is winning in fashion

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Skims bills itself as a clothing brand that is creating the next generation of underwear, loungewear and shapewear – no matter their shape or size.

“We are setting new standards by providing solutions for every body,” the brand explains. “Our goal is to consistently innovate on the past and advance our industry for the future.”

Launched in 2019, Skims is today valued at $3.2bn (for reference, the much longer established competing brand, Calvin Klein, is worth less than half this amount).

Rather than pursue the traditional approach of introducing seasonal collections, Skims instead announces occasional product “drops”, which unfailingly create huge hype for the brand.

The marketing is helped in no small part by the fact that Kim Kardashian is a co-founder and actively promotes the brand’s products to her huge audience of followers (she has 325 million followers on Instagram alone) as well as appearing in the advertisements.

Skims have also harnessed the power of brand collaborations, having teamed up with Team USA at the Olympics and Fendi designer Kim Jones.

But the reason for Skims success is in no small part down to Los Angeles-based husband and wife team Emma and Jens Grede, who co-founded the brand with Kim Kardashian, having previously launched Khloé Kardashian’s Good American denim and the casual wear label Frame.

“Companies go through different chapters. From zero to $100 million, they are really fragile and you are still nurturing them. We have now built three companies way above that, so we’re moving into a new chapter,” explains Jens, who is originally from Sweden.

“Our dream is to develop a few generation-defining brands. If the ’90s had Guess, Victoria’s Secret and Calvin Klein, I want today to be defined by Good American, Skims and Frame.”

Emma, a Londoner by birth, with parents from Jamaica and Trinidad, says of their decision to appeal to a much broader audience than traditional fashion brands, “I came with a mission. I didn’t want to be just another Instagram activist, or a fashion brand only talking about token ‘diversity’; I wanted to act.”

“Most brands serve up the image of a woman that isn’t realistic; impossible dreams with a sprinkling of self-loathing,” she told the Financial Times recently.

“Brands for the masses aren’t designed by creatives usually, they are done to perform to cost and by a bunch of suits in a meeting room with a load of revenue graphs on the wall.”

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