Shapewear has become a major product category for women in recent years. But the main options don’t suit every body. In fact, there’s a growing movement of women looking for “anti-shapewear.” And Skanties is leading the charge. Learn more about this company and its message in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.
What the Business Does
Offers a line of “anti-shapewear.”
Founder Susie Taafe told Small Business Trends, “Skanties specializes in innovative anti-shapewear undergarments designed for women. Our products are a unique blend of comfort, style, and functionality. They are crafted to address common issues such as panty lines, thigh chafing, and discomfort associated with traditional shapewear.
“Skanties undergarments integrate the flexibility and ease of yoga pants, the softness and smoothness of nylon, and the breathability and hygiene of cotton. This combination ensures that our products offer an unparalleled level of comfort without compromising on aesthetic appeal. Our range is thoughtfully designed to cater to women of all shapes and sizes, promoting a message of body positivity and self-love.”
Celebrating women’s bodies, instead of trying to change them.
Taafe says, “Skanties is renowned for pioneering the anti-shapewear movement, a concept that distinctly sets us apart from our competitors. While traditional undergarment brands, including major competitors, have long focused on shaping, compressing, and altering women’s natural bodies, Skanties takes a refreshingly different approach. We are known for celebrating and embracing the natural shape of the female body, not constricting it.
“Our anti-shapewear philosophy is rooted in the belief that women should feel confident and comfortable in their own skin, without the need for uncomfortable and restrictive garments. This resonates deeply with our customers who have been longing for undergarments that prioritize comfort, health, and self-love. Our products are designed to provide the support and coverage women desire, without the discomfort and health concerns that often accompany traditional shapewear.”
How the Business Got Started
To solve a common problem for women.
Taafe explains, “Following my unexpected divorce, I was not only navigating the challenges of being a single mother of three but also seeking a business venture that resonated with my passions. I had previously created a product initially for my own use, however had never even thought other women had the same issues as me.
“Dealing with issues like thigh chafing and the restrictive nature of conventional shapewear, I had previously engineered a solution for myself, combining the comfort, breathability, and functionality I couldn’t find elsewhere. It was only after conversations with other women, who shared similar struggles, that I realized the commercial viability of my creation. These discussions unveiled a common yet rarely spoken about reality: many women experienced the same feelings of discomfort and shame. But the topic was often shrouded in silence.
Scoring a major endorsement.
Taafe says, “The biggest “win” in Skanties’ history was undoubtedly our breakthrough moment when we transitioned from a small, niche brand to gaining widespread recognition and acceptance. This milestone came about when a major influencer in the body positivity community discovered and endorsed our products. Their genuine appreciation and public support for Skanties’ comfort and ethos resonated with their vast audience, creating a ripple effect of awareness and acceptance.
“This endorsement was not a result of a strategic marketing campaign but stemmed from the influencer’s authentic experience with our product. They shared their story of how Skanties had made a significant difference in their life, emphasizing our brand’s commitment to comfort, inclusivity, and challenging traditional beauty norms. This authentic testimony struck a chord with many, leading to an exponential increase in interest and sales.
“This moment was monumental for Skanties. It validated our mission and proved that our anti-shapewear movement was not only necessary but also deeply resonant with a broader audience. It marked our transition from a product-focused company to a lifestyle brand that champions body positivity and self-love.”
Expanding into the U.S. market.
Skanties originally launched in Australia back in 2019, but expanded to the U.S. in 2023.
Taafe adds, “This venture represented a significant leap, both financially and strategically. The U.S. market, with its vast size and competitive landscape, posed a unique set of challenges and opportunities.
“The risk involved was multifaceted. There were substantial financial implications, as the expansion required a significant investment in marketing, logistics, and regulatory compliance. Additionally, there was the challenge of brand positioning. Skanties, while successful in our initial market, was relatively unknown in the U.S. And we had to build our reputation from the ground up in a market saturated with established competitors.
“The potential downside of this move was considerable. If the expansion had failed, it could have led to a substantial financial loss, potentially jeopardizing the entire business. It also carried the risk of damaging our brand reputation, which we had carefully cultivated.
“However, the decision to expand was driven by a belief in the universality of our brand’s message and the unique value proposition of our products. We conducted thorough market research, tailored our marketing strategies to resonate with the U.S. audience, and established a distribution network that could efficiently serve this new customer base.
“The result of this risk has been overwhelmingly positive. The U.S. market has responded well to our brand ethos and products, appreciating the unique blend of comfort, style, and empowerment that Skanties offers. This successful expansion not only increased our global footprint but also reinforced our brand’s mission and vision. It was a calculated risk that paid off, propelling Skanties into a new phase of growth and solidifying our presence in the international market.”
Don’t discount the power of marketing.
Taafe adds, “Social media and digital marketing are not just tools for selling. They are platforms for storytelling, community building, and engaging directly with the target audience. If we had placed a greater emphasis on these channels from the beginning, we could have built a stronger, more engaged community around our brand faster.”
How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000
Advertising and inventory.
Taafe explains, “Firstly, a significant portion would be invested in advertising, with a focus on digital platforms. Given the immense potential of targeted online advertising, these funds would enable us to reach a broader, yet more specific audience. We would leverage social media platforms, search engines, and possibly even influencer partnerships to amplify our brand presence. The aim would be to not only increase sales but also to strengthen our brand identity and message, particularly in markets where our presence is growing, like the U.S.
“The rationale behind prioritizing advertising is twofold. Firstly, it’s a direct path to raising brand awareness and educating potential customers about the unique value proposition of Skanties. Secondly, effective advertising can rapidly scale customer acquisition, which is crucial for a growing brand like ours.
“The remaining funds would be directed towards enhancing our inventory. This would include both increasing the stock of our bestsellers and expanding our product range. Having a robust inventory is key to maintaining customer satisfaction, especially as we grow our market reach.”
“What would your 80-year-old self say?”
Taafe says, “It’s a remarkable tool for gaining perspective and encouraging positive self-reflection. This quote beautifully captures the essence of wisdom that comes with age and experience, urging us to look at our current situations, challenges, or insecurities through the lens of our future selves.
“This perspective shift is particularly relevant when it comes to body positivity and self-acceptance. It encourages us to rise above the fleeting societal pressures and embrace a more forgiving and appreciative attitude towards our bodies. It’s about understanding that many of the things we worry about now, especially regarding our appearance, may seem inconsequential when we look back years later. How often do you look back at a photo and think why did i worry so much back then – I looked beautiful!
“Moreover, this quote transcends just body image. It’s a versatile mantra that can be applied to various aspects of life, helping us to focus on what truly matters, make decisions that we won’t regret, and cherish the present moments more deeply. It’s about prioritizing long-term happiness and fulfillment over temporary discomforts or societal expectations.”
Image: Skanties, Susie Taafe