Kardashian Marketing: How Skims Became a Billion-Dollar Brand
February 23rd, 2022
By: Annette Yang
Keeping Up with the Kardashians star, Kim Kardashian is notably one of today’s most impactful icons and recently, she has added yet another success to her record: a billion-dollar company. Skims is a shape-wear, lingerie, and loungewear brand created by Kim back in 2019 and has since grown immensely, now holding a value of $3.2 billion as of this month. Although Kim is a high-profile celebrity, growing a brand to hit this mark in such a short period is no easy feat. So, how did Skims become so successful?
Courtesy of Nordstrom
Skims initially started off on the wrong foot when Kim decided to name her shape-wear brand “Kimono”. The Kardashian’s attempt to trademark and market her brand that has no association with an actual kimono, a Japanese traditional dress, under the name “Kimono” was extremely offensive and was met with much backlash. The controversy begged the question, “who signed off on this?” and the hashtag #KimOhNo began to trend. Cultural appropriation is nothing new for the Kardashian family as Kim and her sisters have been wrapped up in numerous cultural appropriation scandals throughout the years. Kim however stated that her intentions were “innocent” and proceeded to change her brand name to Skims (NYTimes).
The Kardashian Brand
The first drop of Skims sold out within minutes. However, shape-wear is nothing new in the market and there are plenty of shape-wear brands out there. So what makes Skims different? Shape-wear has not seen much innovation in the last few years despite the growth of the shape-wear market. There have also been complaints from consumers of its discomfort and also the room for more inclusivity in the industry. Skims, alongside the powerful influence of Kim, has brought about that “new” by merging shape-wear with comfort, versatility, and diversity.
Body positivity and inclusivity are the pillars of Kim’s brand. It is celebratory that Skims offers sizes ranging from XXS up to 5X that are made to fit and flatter everybody. Skims also incorporates a variety of skin-tone shades in its products which is key for shape-wear or underwear as it is often worn hidden underneath dresses or variously shaped clothing. Kim stated in an interview with Nordstrom, one of Skims’ retailers, that she was a big fan of using shape-wear to enhance her figure but often struggled with finding shape-wear that fit and flattered her. She believes that in order to feel good on the outside, you need to start underneath with the perfect shape-wear. Skims has been very popular for its inclusivity and also the quality of its pieces. Many Skims products have gone viral for being flattering on the body and versatile to dress up or down. Women are loving how they can wear Skims and feel comfortable but still look and feel beautiful. Skims has become a one-stop-shop for basic tees to wear to work, dresses to lounge around the house or wear out to a bar, and shape-wear that is easy for anyone to wear. Kim voiced her creation of Skims as a solution-based brand for women to feel confident, comfy, and beautiful whatever the occasion.
A crucial part of Skims’ success is Kim. K herself. Kim is said to be very involved with the production of Skims from helping source fabrics, pick photographers, analyze data, and of course, being the face of her brand. Her now ex-husband Kanye West has also participated in helping Kim launch her brand and create the Skims creative vision. Skims is definitely very closely aligned with Kim’s personal brand as she is well known for her hourglass figure and for creating trends of bodycon and elevated basic fashion. Since its launch, Skims has been very social media-focused and has amassed 3.7 million followers on Instagram. Additionally, Kim does a lot of advertising herself on her own page of 286 million followers. Kim is also involved in many other forms of advertising such as her “Skims Fashion Challenge” video with fashion retailer Net-a-Porter where she showed herself styling and wearing different Skims products for various occasions. Skims does a great job of targeting its primary market of young women as this audience consists of very active social media users, those most prone to buying into Skims products and selling points, and also the majority of Kim’s follower base.
Courtesy of Harper's Bazaar
Despite Covid hindering commerce and changing the landscape of fashion marketing in the last few years, Skims has been following a steep positive trend and is not looking to stop anytime soon. The thing is, everyone can’t stop talking about Skims! With the frequent drops of new products whether it be holiday collections, seasonal colorways, or different fabrics, Skims is always coming out with something new for its fans to try. The brand also recently made headlines for its designer collaboration with the Italian luxury fashion house, Fendi. There were those who loved and hated Fendi X Skims but no one can deny it was something different and yielded a lot of press.
Skims has definitely made its mark on the fashion scene and it will be interesting to see how the brand paves the way for shape-wear in the future. Kim and shape-wear are in, and so is inclusivity and making women’s fashion more comfortable and wearable. Have you hopped on the Skims trend yet?
Annette Yang is one of the Spring 2022 Content Directors. She is a sophomore at NYU Steinhardt studying MCC with a minor in Business. Stay tuned for more amazing content from Annette!