Spanx to Expand Into Denim and More Following Blackstone Deal
Spanx founder Sara Blakely says the business will expand into denim and other product categories following its sale to Blackstone, reports CNBC. Blackstone announced last week that it was taking a majority stake in the shapewear maker, valuing the business at $1.2 billion. Spanx is pushing into other categories of apparel in hopes of making all clothing more comfortable for women. Furthermore, it's looking to grow its direct-to-consumer business, which today makes up about 70 percent of revenue.
Blakely launched Spanx in 1998 and has since expanded its assortment to include activewear, denim and even men’s shapewear. According to Blakely, product innovation will continue to be a priority. When the deal with Blackstone closes, Blakely will maintain a significant stake in the company and continue to oversee operations, transitioning to an executive chairwoman role.
Total Retail's Take: As Spanx has grown into a cult favorite shapewear brand among women, it makes sense that investors are interested and supportive of Blakely's expansion plan. “We kind of defined a category and revolutionized it, and we’re now doing that in apparel and active,” Blakely told CNBC. “Our consumers have been saying, ‘Put the magic of Spanx in the clothing that I’m wearing.’” As consumer awareness of Spanx and online shopping habits both continue to grow, it only makes sense that the brand has seen in direct-to-consumer sales rise. Doubling down on e-commerce efforts is a similar shift that major consumer brands — including Nike, Coach, and Levi Strauss — have been making to build tighter relationships with customers and boost profit margin from each transaction.
For Blackstone, the Spanx deal is the investment firm's latest move to back women-run businesses. It follows investments in Whitney Wolfe Herd’s Bumble and Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine media conglomerate. A track record of strong customer loyalty was a big part of the decision to invest in Spanx, said Blackstone’s global head of its consumer division, Ann Chung. "The consumer was following the company and the brand ... whether it was putting shapewear out, or leggings out, or jeans out." With shoppers' trust in its original shapewear products, Spanx will have an edge as it extends its product offerings into new heavily saturated apparel categories.
Kristina Stidham is the digital content director at Total Retail and sister brands Women in Retail Leadership Circle and Women Leading Travel & Hospitality at NAPCO Media. She is passionate about digital media and handles video, podcast and virtual event production for all brands. You can often find her at WIRLC, TR, WLT&H or industry events with her camera and podcasting equipment—or at home on Zoom—recording interviews with thought leaders and business executives.
Kristina holds a B.A. in Media Studies and Production from the Temple University Klein College of Media and Communication in Philadelphia. Go Owls! When she's not in the office, she loves to go on long walks, sing around the house, hangout with her family and two pet guinea pigs, and travel to new places.