As a child, Lizzo tried so hard to literally fit in.
The now superstar wore shapewear and corsets to school to contort her body shape, an experience she said was incredibly uncomfortable for a pre-teen.
“It was a really painful, embarrassing experience…because I grew up in a society where I hardly even realized I was ashamed of how I looked,” the 33-year-old singer said. Detroit native, in a recent Zoom interview.
Eventually, Lizzo says, she ditched the shapewear and embraced her plus-size body: “I got to a point where I was like, ‘F–k that,'” she laughed. “I stopped wearing bras even. I went to the other side, to break free and find my self love and body positivity.”
That’s when Lizzo started experimenting with her own version of girdles.
“I started having fun creating different shapes, silhouettes and looks and realized, ‘Oh, this isn’t really a bad thing if I’m not doing something bad to my body,'” she recalled.
Next month, Lizzo will launch her own line of shapewear, called Yitty, after the childhood nickname of the singer, whose real name is Melissa, through a partnership with sportswear maker Fabletics.
The line marks Lizzo’s first commercial venture, beyond her work in music and entertainment (she also stars in a reality dance competition series that airs on Amazon Prime Video) and her personal investments.
The launch follows three years of work and many meetings with Fabletics co-founder Don Ressler, Lizzo said.
He decided to partner with Fabletics to capitalize on what he saw as limitless potential with the brand. Other potential partners saw Yitty only as a small capsule collection or 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 sportswear and casual wear, the retailer aims to fill a gap in the clothing market between more luxury brands such as Lululemonand cheaper labels, like the ones you can find at Target.
Fabletics VIP members pay a monthly fee for their clothing purchases, similar to a subscription model, and can choose to skip a month so credits don’t roll over.
“We’re known for patterns, for different color combinations… 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 is most often worn under a woman’s clothing, but that doesn’t mean they should stick to neutral colors, Ressler said. That’s where Yitty will stand out from other brands already on the market, offering options in bold neon colors and patterned fabrics.
“Others who have come into the category, and have made a big difference, are certainly still the same as always,” he said. “We’re taking a risk.”
When asked how big Yitty could scale over time, Ressler said the company is thinking in billions, not millions.
The shapewear category is already packed with celebrities.
Kim Kardashian’s Skims underwear brand had a successful debut shortly before the Covid pandemic and is now valued at $3.2 billiondouble what it was a year ago. Since launching with just a selection of shapewear in 2019, Skims has expanded into categories including pajamas, casual wear, and swimwear.
Singer Rihanna has also had a successful career with her Savage X Fenty lingerie line, which is known for encompassing and catering to all body types. The company is reportedly considering an IPO with a valuation of more than $3 billion.. A Savage X Fenty representative declined to comment on the IPO talks.
Last year, Fabletics was reportedly considering its own initial public offering, a process the company declined to comment on. Its previous holding company, TechStyle Fashion Group, spun off Savage X Fenty in 2019 and JF Brands, which included JustFab and ShoeDazzle, in 2020. The company 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.
Yitty will debut on April 12, online and in Fabletics stores, with three item collections: Nearly Naked, a selection of everyday shapewear; Mesh Me, which is designed to be worn as underwear or outerwear; and Major Label, which includes pieces that are more edgy but also super soft, says Lizzo.
Sizes will 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 already working on a more athletic-focused collection as well.
During the Zoom interview, Lizzo stood up and turned around to model her own bright neon yellow bra with matching biker shorts from Yitty’s first release, an outfit she said would hold up to an intense workout.
“More than a product, it’s about the mentality of having liberation,” said the singer. “The way we feel about ourselves and the way we dress, every day, doesn’t have to be painful or embarrassing. It can be fun, exciting and sexy.”
“I want anyone who hears about Yitty, who is a fan of mine, to know that this is not an invitation to change anything about yourself in a negative way,” Lizzo added. “This comes as you are. And if something doesn’t feel comfortable, don’t wear it. Don’t do it”