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SKIMS: The Marketing Strategy Behind Kim Kardashian’s Shapewear Success

8 minute read

SKIMS, founded by Kim Kardashian, is a powerhouse in the shapewear industry. Whether you love or hate Kim, there’s no denying SKIMS’ success. The brand is now worth US$4bn (approximately £3.09bn), making SKIMS a unicorn four times over and leapfrogging over long standing competitor Spanx. 

SKIMS isn’t the only Kardashian brand. Kim’s sisters are also savvy business-women, with Khloe creating denim brand Good American and Kylie launching popular beauty line, Kylie Cosmetics (valued at  $900 million). That said, SKIMS stands out as the highest-valued Kardashian brand so far. 

Stick around as we uncover SKIMS’ marketing strategy and explore how the brand is reshaping the shapewear landscape by putting diversity, sustainability, and comfort at the forefront.

SKIMS: History of the brand and why we like them

SKIMS' journey begins with Kim Kardashian herself. Before SKIMS, Kim struggled to find shapewear that matched her skin tone. In fact, she once famously revealed that she used to take her shapewear and dye it with tea bags and coffee in her bathtub to achieve the right shade. This resourceful yet imperfect method highlighted a significant gap in the market – the lack of inclusive shapewear options.

Determined to fill this void, Kim Kardashian joined forces with business power couple Jens and Emma Grede. In 2019, they created a shapewear line that would not only provide a diverse range of skin tones but also prioritize comfort and functionality. 

What truly sets SKIMS apart is its unwavering commitment to inclusivity. The brand offers products in more than ten skin tones (from “sand” to “onyx”). This dedication to reflecting the diversity of the real world in its products is a testament to SKIMS' authenticity and its mission to empower individuals to feel confident in their own skin.

But SKIMS' commitment to inclusivity doesn’t stop at skintones. Their tagline “Solutions for every body” says it all. The brand holds sizes from XXS to 4X and has expanded its offerings to include adaptive lines for consumers with limited mobility. 

In a market once dominated primarily by one company, SKIMS boldly defined itself by prioritizing diversity, inclusivity, and innovation. It's a brand that understands that fashion should adapt to individuals, not the other way around. 

Now, let’s explore the influencer strategy of the brand that put Kim Kardashian on the Forbes' World Billionaires List. 

Influencer marketing at SKIMS: Collaborations and influencer strategy deep-dive

SKIMS influencer strategy on Instagram

In the last 12 months, 7.8k creators mentioned SKIMS in 29.4k posts. The engagement rate for creator content on Instagram is 3.3%, and the potential audience size is 4.8 billion. 

Who does SKIMS work with?

It goes without saying that Kim Kardashian appears in a lot of SKIMS posts, reels and stories. But the brand works with many other creators, too.

The brand has been mentioned by creators of all sizes. 50% of the mentions coming from mid-size influencers with 10k-100k followers. The average follower count is higher, falling into the macro category with 618k.

The creators SKIMs works with reflect the brand’s focus on diversity. For example, the brand’s recent campaign “Fits Everybody” featured African-American singer and influencer SZA. She shared an Instagram post of her wearing the brand’s shapewear with her 17 million followers:

Storyclash data shows that SKIMS mainly works with creators in the U.S, but also some in the UK, Germany, and Canada.

SKIMS  works with many influencers on a one-time basis. 57% of their collabs are one-offs, 27% are short term (up to 6 months) and only 16% are long term:

SKIMS influencer strategy on TikTok

In the last 12 months, 928 Creators talked about SKIMS in 1.6k TikTok videos. Influencer videos typically generate 132.1k views, and can reach a potential audience of 540.1m.

On TikTok, creators share a range of engaging videos, ranging from maternity and wedding wear to the latest product drops. Rapper and influencer Ice Spice (@icespicee) shared a viral video promoting SKIMS new shapewear campaign, driving 18.3 million views.

What is SKIMS social media strategy?

Now, let's take a look at the brand's owned media. SKIMS is active on Instagram (5.3 million followers) and TikTok (1.2 million followers). The brand does not have a presence on any other channels, like YouTube or Facebook. 

Sometimes, less is more - and SKIMS has chosen to focus on the most relevant channels for their target audience, rather than spreading themselves too thin over lots of channels. 

Let’s explore in further detail how the brand approaches Instagram and TikTok. 

SKIMS Instagram strategy

Stories make up 80% of the brand’s Instagram content. Posts 19% and reels 1%. 

Posts feature models, influencers and Kim herself wearing the brand’s products. The style is sexy(would you expect anything else from Kim Kardashian?) and the brand isn’t afraid to post revealing images. The brand generally uses eye-catching imagery to attract attention and includes product info in the Instagram captions.

Instagram stories are in a similar style. Here are a few recent examples showing models and influencers wearing the brand’s shapewear:

The content seems to be doing well, because the brand has seen significant follower growth, growing from 5 million to 5.3 million followers over the past 6 months:

Posts have an average reach of 315k people, and stories reach 150k users. The estimated media value is €11k for posts and €5.3k

According to Storyclash data, the brand has driven a total estimated media value of €5.1M through posts, and €9.4M through stories. 

SKIMS TikTok strategy

The brand uses TikTok to share viral videos of its revolutionary shapewear. 

For instance, the brand launched the SKIMS Ultimate Bra in August 2023 and the launch video on TikTok generated 276k views and 42k likes:

Kim regularly appears in the TikTok content herself:

Over the past 6 months, the brand has posted 313 TikTok videos.However, engagement rate is only 0.4%. If we consider 1% a benchmark, this implies that the brand could improve here.

A closer look at the brand’s TikTok KPIs shows that follower count is growing, but engagement doesn’t seem to be developing at the same rate. The brand counts 1.2M followers, but likes and comments have recently flatlined.

While the brand’s TikTok engagement could be improved, SKIMS is mostly very successful on social media. 

What can your brand learn from SKIMS?

SKIMS success offers many valuable lessons for other brands:

  • Prioritize inclusivity for authentic connection

SKIMS' commitment to providing a wide range of sizes and skin tones has resonated with consumers seeking genuine inclusivity in fashion. Your brand can learn to prioritize diversity and inclusivity, not only in product offerings but also in marketing and messaging, fostering a deeper and more authentic connection with your audience.

  • Collaborations with purpose

SKIMS' strategic influencer partnerships align with its values and resonate with its audience. When looking for influencers, focus on influencers and partners who authentically represent your brand and values, creating a meaningful connection with your target demographic.

  • Don’t be afraid to stand out

Kim knows the power of standing out from the crowd. The brand leverages eye-catching visuals and provocative imagery, leading to viral content and engagement. 

  • Adapt to evolving trends

SKIMS is no longer just shapewear. At the onset of the pandemic, SKIMS was quick to introduce loungewear to meet customer’s new desire for comfort. Stay ahead of market trends, and be willing to adapt and diversify your product line to meet changing consumer demands.

What could SKIMS do better?

While SKIMS is a wildly success brand, there are areas where it’s possible to improve:

  • Social responsibility & sustainability

SKIMS provides little information about how its impact on people, the planet, and animals. Ethical brand rating app Good On You rates Kim Kardashian's brand “We Avoid,” their lowest possible score. The brand had also been subject to scandal, with former staff making allegations of withheld wages, unpaid overtime, and no breaks. 

  • Build a community

Kim has an army of loyal fans. Why not give the community something back? A community program would build loyalty and take SKIMS to the next level. 

Want to check out the influencer marketing strategies of more top brands?

Watch the on-demand webinar about Charlotte Tilbury to find out what they could do to be even more successful with influencer marketing!

Prefer reading instead of watching? Check out our blog post on Charlotte Tilbury where we demystify who the brand works with and how they approach influencer marketing. 

About Storyclash - the brand behind the insights

Storyclash is the AI-powered Influencer Marketing Platform that helps your team drive sales and brand awareness. Discover authentic creators, measure the impact of your campaigns and manage all your data in one place. Fast-growing DTCs like  Bears With Benefits, Junglück or Kapten & Son, as well as large, established companies like Vodafone, Lululemon or Kaufland use Storyclash to get more out of their influencer marketing.