As a young girl, Lizzo tried hard to literally fit in.
The now-superstar would wear tight-fitting girdles and corsets to school, distorting the shape of her body – an experience she says was incredibly uncomfortable for a pre-teen.
“It was a really painful and shameful experience…because I grew up in a society where as soon as I realized it, I was ashamed of how I looked,” said the 33-year-old singer and Detroit native, in a recent Zoom interview.
Eventually, Lizzo says, she ditched the girdles and embraced her plus-size body: “I got to a point where I was like, ‘Fk that,'” she laughed. “I even stopped wearing bras. I went to the other side, to break free and regain my self-love and body positivity.”
It was then that Lizzo began experimenting with her own version of shapewear.
“I started having fun creating different shapes, silhouettes and looks and realized, ‘Oh, it’s actually not a bad thing if I’m not doing something bad to my body'” , she recalls.
Next month, Lizzo will launch her own line of shapewear – called Yitty, after a childhood nickname for the singer, whose real name is Melissa – through a partnership with sportswear maker Fabletics.
The line marks Lizzo’s first business venture, beyond her work in music and entertainment (she also performs in a series of dance-reality competitions streaming on Amazon Prime Video) and her personal investments.
Bright colours, bold prints
The launch follows three years of work and numerous meetings with Fabletics co-founder Don Ressler, Lizzo said.
She decided to team up with Fabletics to capitalize on what she saw as unlimited potential with the brand. Other potential partners saw Yitty just as a small capsule collection or a limited time offer.
Fabletics also knows a thing or two about working with superstars. The retailer launched with actress Kate Hudson in 2013 and has since collaborated with other celebrities, including singer Demi Lovato and comedian Kevin Hart.
With its selection of workout gear and loungewear, the retailer aims to fill a gap in the apparel market between more upscale brands, such as Lululemon, and lower-priced brands, such as those which you can find at Target.
Fabletics VIP members pay a monthly fee for their apparel purchases, similar to a subscription model, and can choose to skip a month so credits don’t accumulate.
“We’re known for prints, for different colorways…we’re known for taking risks in space,” Ressler said. “And that’s what we’re going to do with the Yitty and Lizzo brand.”
Shapewear pieces are most often worn under a woman’s clothes, but that doesn’t mean they should stick to neutral colors, Ressler said. This is where Yitty will stand out from other brands already on the market – offering options in bold neon colors and patterned fabrics.
“Others who have entered the category – and made a big difference, there’s no doubt about it – it’s still the same old,” he said. “We take risks.
When asked how big Yitty could scale over time, Ressler said the company thinks in billions, not millions.
The shapewear category is already dotted with celebrities.
Kim Kardashian’s Skims underwear brand made its successful debut shortly before the Covid pandemic and is now valued at $3.2 billion, double what it was a year ago . Since launching with just a selection of shapewear in 2019, Skims has expanded into categories like pajamas, loungewear, and swimwear.
Singer Rihanna has also had success with her Savage X Fenty lingerie line, which is known to embrace and satisfy all body types. The company is reportedly considering an initial public offering at a valuation of over $3 billion. A representative for Savage X Fenty declined to comment on the IPO talks.
Last year, Fabletics was considering its own IPO, a process the company declined to comment on. Its former holding company, TechStyle Fashion Group, spun off Savage X Fenty in 2019 and JF Brands, which included JustFab and ShoeDazzle, in 2020. The company’s name was later changed to Fabletics Inc., now the parent company of Fabletics and Yitty.
Fabletics declined to comment on the business structure between the retailer and Lizzo.
‘It came as you are’
Yitty will debut on April 12, online and in Fabletics stores, with three collections of items: Nearly Naked, a selection of everyday shapewear; Mesh Me, which is designed to be worn as underwear or outerwear; and Major Label, which includes more edgy but also super sweet pieces, says Lizzo.
Sizes range from XS to 6X and prices from $14.95 to $69.95.
The team added that while some of the current pieces can be worn during workouts, Yitty is also already working on a more athletic-focused collection.
During the Zoom interview, Lizzo stood up and turned around to model her own neon yellow bra with matching biker shorts from the first Yitty drop – an outfit she said would hold up to a workout intensely sweaty.
“More than a product, it’s about the mindset of having liberation,” the singer said. “The way we see ourselves and the way we dress, every day, doesn’t have to be painful and it doesn’t have to be shameful. It can be fun, exciting and sexy.”
“I want everyone who hears about Yitty – who is a fan of me – to know that this is not an invitation to change anything about you in a negative way,” Lizzo added. “It came as you are. And if something doesn’t feel comfortable, don’t wear it. Don’t”