The recent backlash against Victoria’s Secret’s annual fashion show reveals that women want more from brands that market to them. For years, women’s underwear, tights, and shapewear was designed for the male gaze, rather than women’s comfort. These pieces were marketed as a way to make women appear sexier and skinnier to their partners.
But times are changing. Underwear brands like Thirdlove and Lively are rejecting that approach to marketing and product design, and now a British tights brand called Heist joins them.
Heist products are designed by Fiona Fairhurst, known for inventing swimwear for the Sydney 2000 Olympics that used technology that mimicked sharkskin to improve swimmers’ performance. Heist surveyed thousands of women, and Fairhurst used this feedback to create tights that stay up, resist tearing, flatter the body, and, above all, are comfortable. Heist’s tights, which come in several thicknesses and heights, are created out of a single tube of yarn and, to cut out friction, they don’t have seams and the gusset. The waistband is adaptive to movement, so it is less likely to get dislodged during the day.
Beyond product, Heist markets itself as a brand that puts women first. Heist ads feature women of all body shapes and ethnicities in movement to show that the garments are comfortable and stay put, even in the midst of an active lifestyle.
The brand recently launched a bodysuit called The Outer Body designed to take 5 centimeters off your waist. It’s tricky to sell shapewear in a female-empowering way, given that the point of it is to make women look skinnier. Heist makes the case that this is a product that women themselves are asking for. After surveying 1,025 women, the brand came to the conclusion that there is still strong demand for shapewear, but women are looking for pieces that are more comfortable. This is what Fairhurst has tried to create: “We wanted to give women . . . bodywear that’s designed to move with the body, not against it,” she says.