Image: Kimono

Kim Kardashian is expanding her consumer goods empire. The reality television star-slash-burgeoning business mogul has turned her attention to the shapewear market thanks to a soon-to-launch collection called Kimono. The 38-year old mega-star – whose roster includes a beauty and fragrance collection, a video game, and an e-sticker centric app, among other things – revealed the controversially-named Kimono on social media on Tuesday, calling the project her “take on shapewear and solutions for women that actually work.”

Kardashian’s pivot to shapewear – a category that consists of targeted shaping and all-over slimming and smoothing undergarments, such as shorts, tank tops, camisoles, slips, and bodysuits – is an interesting one, as the market, itself, is just a small part of the larger $100 billion global lingerie market. However, it is a readily evolving and swiftly growing one. According to London-based retail data and technology company EDITED, sales of figure-shaping underwear, alone, grew by nearly 30 percent between 2016 and 2018, as part of the more than $2.1 billion global shape wear market (as of last year).

When combined with sales of more exercise-centric compression wear, the value of the market jumps to $5.5 billion and is expected to reach $6.4 billion by 2024.

Sales in the shapewear arena have been on the rise thanks in large part to the large pool of consumers they cater to, which includes women, in particular, “belonging to all age groups,” according to Persistence Market Research. More than that, “Endorsements from celebrities,” such as Kardashian, herself – who has admitted in the past to wearing not one but layering two pairs of Spanx at a time on more than one occasion – are also playing a key role in continued sales growth.

Kardashian’s endeavor comes almost 20 years after Sara Blakely started what has been largely coined “a shapewear revolution.” With just $5,000 in startup money and no formal education or background in hosiery design, the former fax machine saleswoman launched Spanx in February 2000 at age 27. In little more than a decade, the Atlanta-based privately-held company was valued at $1 billion and Blakely has earned herself the title of the youngest self-made female billionaire in the world at age 41.

With such success and a relatively new consumer goods segment – shapewear – in mind, the market has been teeming with competition ever since, from new entrants like Heist, Zornosa, and Shapermint to more established names, such as Yummie Tummie and Bare Necessities – the latter of which was snapped up by Walmart last year for a reported $3 billion in furtherance of the retail giant’s quest to broaden its reach in undergarments, including shapewear – all aiming to chip away at Spanx’s market share.

Not to be outdone, Kardashian says her new venture has been 15 years in the making, as tied to her long-standing “passion for” and “personal experience with” shapewear, including what she says has seen her “always cutting up my shapewear to make my own styles” and experiencing difficulty in “finding a shapewear color that blended with my skin tone.” The Kimono collection, which is expected to become available next month, likely in a direct-to-consumer capacity, will range in size from XXS to 4XL, and come in 9 different skin tones.

Of course, the impending launch has not come without controversy in true Kardashian/Jenner style. On the heels of reports that Kardashian’s legal team had filed an array of trademark applications for the “Kimono” name this spring (the applications range from “Kimono” for use on garments, accessories, and perfumes to “Kimono Intimates” and “Kimono Body”), consumers have called foul, accusing Kardashian of co-opting Japanese culture for an undergarments collection that lacks any apparent ties to Japan.