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What's behind Skims, the brand that seems to be everywhere right now

Marketing strategies, collaborations, and the couple behind the success of Kim Kardashian's brand

What's behind Skims, the brand that seems to be everywhere right now Marketing strategies, collaborations, and the couple behind the success of Kim Kardashian's brand

"I want to be in every country possible. I don’t really start out to do anything not the biggest possible," and finally, "the sky is my limit." Kim Kardashian told the New York Times, making it clear that her plans for Skims are not only ambitious, but also limitless. And why should she have any? Kim's, like her family's, rise is extraordinary. She has risen from alleged sex tape star to reality star, from Kanye West's muse to billionaire businesswoman, and has carved out her place among the socio-cultural icons of the 21st century. When MJ Corey calls her "the emblem of American capitalism in the age of the social media economy" in his book DeKonstructing the Kardashians, Skims is her greatest achievement.

The original concept of the brand

When Skims was founded in 2019, it seemed like a classic influencer brand/vanity project. Instead, it has grown into a respected and valued global phenomenon, growing from a value of 1.6 billion US dollars in 2021 to 4 billion US dollars by the summer of 2023. It started with a range of solution wear, shaping and shaping underwear designed to enable all women to enhance and shape their silhouette without sacrificing support or comfort. Gradually, the range has expanded to include loungewear, swimwear and pyjamas, fitting perfectly into a market segment with a somewhat unstable definition, given that leggings and bodysuits are now accepted as trousers and comfort is paramount. So much so that Skims emerged this year as the only non-high fashion brand between Louis Vuitton and Fendi in Lyst"s 'hottest brands" index. The glue for each drop has always been Kim Kardashian's vision of diversity, inclusivity and body positivity, so the garments are available in 11 sizes from XXS to 4XL and in 9 colourways for each garment, divided by skin tone. With a strong aesthetic that is often entrusted to cool and diverse celebrities such as Rosalía, Kate Moss, Kim Catrall or Cardi B.

Recent collaborations

All of Kim and her collaborators' choices have proven successful. In the last two years alone, fuelled by the search for loungewear during lockdown, Skims became the official underwear supplier of Team USA for the Tokyo 2021 Olympics, presented a capsule collection with Fendi and won the 2022 Innovation Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America. However, Mrs Kardashian does not like to rest on her laurels. As she has said in several interviews, she wants more and in her race to conquer the world, 2023 is a hectic and fruitful time. First, she celebrated the fourth anniversary of the brand's founding with a series of extraordinary faces wearing Skims clothing: from Cardi B to Kim Cattrall, the unforgettable Samantha from Sex and the City, from Nelly Furtado to Ice Spice. She went on to debut in men's bodywear. It was a natural progression for the brand, according to Jens Grede, CEO and co-founder of Skims, who told GQ that the brand's website already has 10 per cent male traffic, "which means 50 million men have visited the site in the last few months." To gain a foothold in the market and appeal to new buyers, the brand has relied on a number of sports stars: Psg footballer Neymar Jr, Oklahoma City Thunder player Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Nfl defender Nick Bosa, who wear socks, tank tops, sports leggings, boxer shorts and the other products available to buy from the men's line. The result? 25 thousand online orders after the launch on 26 October and, according to press reports, sales of several million in just five minutes. The connection to the sports world was further strengthened when the NBA, the National Basketball Association, named Skims as its official partner in October, a partnership that will last for years to come and will also include the association's women's division. In all of this, Kim found time to go viral on social media thanks to the Ultimate Nipple Bra, a bra with a built-in nipple that was introduced with a commercial that ironically also brought environmental and global warming issues into play. The next step? According to insiders, it will be a stock market listing.

The partnership with Swarovski

The successes of 2023 include a collaboration with Swarovski. Skims has teamed up with the Austrian crystal company for a collection that will be available from 7 November on, in Swarovski shops such as the new Swarovski flagship store on Fifth Avenue and in selected luxury shops around the world, including Rinascente Piazza Duomo in Milan, where it will be available from 7 to 26 November. The partnership will focus on crystal body jewellery in various sizes that can be combined in different ways, as well as ready-to-wear clothing, including crystal-studded lingerie, leotards and dresses. The pieces, inspired by the Millenia jewellery collection, can be worn over or under a garment and combined with chokers, necklaces and bracelets to create a "wow" effect on any occasion. Photographed by Mert Alas, the Swarovski x Skims collection is in some ways reminiscent of the Marilyn Monroe dress Kardashian wore at the 2022 Met Gala and, for Alexis Nasard, CEO of Swarovski, is both "a new level of collaboration" and an expression of a new corporate strategy, for Kim Kardashian's brand, however, it is a test of what the brand can do and how far it can go to find out what the market can bear and to lay the possible foundation for other futures. In addition, it is a way for another way to test retail IRL. The collection will be sold in 40 Swarovski stores worldwide and Skims plans to open flagship stores in Los Angeles and New York next year, as well as five to eight more in smaller cities.

Emma and Jens Grede, the couple behind the success of Skim

The real secret of Skims' success? Some say it's Emma and Jens Grede, husband and marketing expert and the couple behind many of the Kardashian-Jenner family's brands. Emma, who was born and raised in London, met Jens, who is Swedish, in the early 2000s when she was running the Saturday Group, a fashion marketing company known for connecting celebrities with famous brands. Jens, on the other hand, is best known for founding luxury menswear retailer Mr Porter with his business partner Erik Torstensson in 2011 and, a year later, denim brand Frame, which is popular with supermodels and for which Torstensson still works as creative director. A few years later, Emma met Kris Jenner and went into business with the family. The first project is the founding of the denim brand Good American with Khloé Kardashian in 2016. In 2021, Emma and Kris founded a line of natural cleaning products called Safely, while Emma and Jens supported Kylie Jenner's fashion line Khy that year. However, their most successful business remains Skims, of which he is CEO and heads up marketing, while Emma develops the clothing as Chief Product Officer. The pair don't like to give too many explanations about the strategies that have led to these outstanding results, but for Jens it all boils down to Kim. For Mr Grede, celebrities are "the only sticking point" in the consumer economy. But the presence of a star is not enough to get real results, it also takes a special chemistry: "You can be a great singer, actor or actress, but you have to have a different aesthetic to someone else. You have to be desirable." And luckily, according to Jens, Kim has this quality. Is this really just a Skims trump card? Hard to believe.