When an athleisure jacket racks up 2.8bn views on a social media platform with reviewers praising its ability to create an hourglass silhouette, you know it’s a signal that this is a body shape that is – dare we say it – trending.
Lululemon’s Define jacket has been dubbed the Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL) top for its instant sculpting effect, thanks to a bit of Lycra and clever tailoring. Countless young women have shared videos on TikTok of themselves zipping and unzipping the snug-fitting top and doing a celebratory dance. “BBL for the win,” said one.
The hourglass is currently the biggest shape in fashion. “We’re seeing an industry-wide obsession with hyper-femininity,” says Katie Devlin, fashion researcher at the trends intelligence agency Stylus. “There’s been a change in the types of bodies that we see represented in fashion, [marking] a definite shift towards embracing curvier, more womanly figures.”
Last week Victoria Beckham launched VB Body, a capsule collection of body-contouring dresses, bralettes and leggings, which, she said in a recent interview, “really do cinch you in at all the right places, and give you a nice round bottom or a defined waist”.
Like it or not, Kim Kardashian was here first. “She’s been pushing this hourglass thing for years,” says the author and Central Saint Martins fashion lecturer Harriet Worsley. “Fashion is finally catching up with her.”
Kardashian launched her own shapewear line, Skims, in September 2020, and has introduced size-inclusive garments such as a waist trainer, and cycling shorts that flatten tummies and “enhance the natural shape of your butt”.
With many of us coming out of lockdown with quite a bit more body to sculpt than before we went in, it’s perhaps not surprising that Selfridges, which stocks Skims, reports a “huge spike” in its sales – “and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down”, says Grace Neal, a womenswear buyer there. “We’ve seen an increase of 118% of Skims sales versus the previous year.” However, she adds, customers are looking for something a little different these days. “They aren’t necessarily looking for shapewear to make them look thinner,” she says, “but to enhance the body they already have.”
“Historically, shapewear has always been incredibly restrictive and uncomfortable,” says Devlin. “The main point of it in the past has been to make the wearer as small and as skinny as possible. While restriction still plays a part, these brands are celebrating different parts of the body that previously no one would have wanted in their silhouette.” Parts of your body, she means, such as hips and bottoms that accentuate the hourglass aesthetic.
The American singer Lizzo’s new shapewear line, Yitty, which launched on 12 April, goes even further in celebrating a fuller female form. Its clothes are not designed to be hidden away and worn in secret shame, but as (very tight) garments in their own right. Vests, cycling shorts and bodysuits, in electric blue, neon yellow and a bold butterfly-wing print can be worn “as an under layer or shown off”, says the website. Modelling some of the range herself, Lizzo is very much doing the latter (similarly, VB Body is, Beckham has said, a mixture of “shapewear and womenswear in one”).
In a recent Instagram post, Lizzo said: “I’m sick of people telling me how I’m supposed to look and feel about my body. I’m tired of discomfort being synonymous with sexy. Yitty isn’t just shapewear, it’s your chance to reclaim your body and redefine your beauty standard.”
The American plus-size influencer and beauty entrepreneur Katie Sturino welcomes the new shapewear. “I love the fact that someone with my size can actually wear something that 20 years ago you’d only see on a Calvin Klein model.”