Elegant … sexy … attractive. Not words you think of when you think of shapewear.
Too often, these modern fashion must-haves make you feel (and look) like a stuffed sausage. Probably the last thing you’d ever call shapewear is “pretty”.
But that’s exactly what Amanda Horan Kennedy, president and founder of Sassybax, decided to name her delicious new collection of shapewear pieces.
And with good reason. This is shapewear that makes you want to flaunt your figure, not hide it. This is shapewear meant to be seen — by men.
Sassybax is at the leading edge of one of the most welcome trends in women’s fashion — the emergence of stylish (but still functional) shapewear.
To date, shapewear has been almost entirely about control — how much of me can I squish into a rubber tube? These date-saving, shape-saving, ego-saving garments have been a blessing (and, to some, a secret embarrassment) for women almost since the invention of Lycra 30 years ago. Women depend on shapewear, but don’t want to brag about it.
Well, that’s all about to change.
The Sassybax Pretty collection looks like it belongs on a Paris runway. Which is exactly how its designer envisioned it.
“This collection is so pretty and sexy that it’s hard to believe it’s shapewear,” Horan Kennedy said. “Some women will actually want to show it off like lingerie.”
Sassybax’s black-only Pretty line flew off the shelves when it was first introduced in Saks stores last spring. The company will add a nude Pretty line in the fall, and is also about to unveil a revolutionary new line of tanks and T-shirts with “slimming capabilities.”
Sassybax is a feel-good success story in a nearly billion-dollar industry dominated by a handful of mass-market giants and dozens of copycat competitors.
Founded by Horan Kennedy in 2003 in her L.A. garage with less than $1000 in seed money, Sassybax’s first collection in 2004 shipped nearly $1-million worth of shapewear bras.
The company was born, she says, from the realization that most shapewear at the time focused on women’s hips, thighs and waist. That left the upper body — in particular, the dreaded “bra bulge” created by bra straps and bands that cut into the torso — untouched.
Sassybax set out to “cure” bra bulge with a line of control tops, and was an immediate hit — and a trendsetter that helped drive the subsequent growth in upper-body control pieces.
Horan Kennedy is equally passionate today about her latest mission — to make shapewear sexy. As a former TV actress, model and (get this!) psychotherapist, she’s had plenty of time to consider her market and its needs.
“It’s not that difficult for me to figure out what women want,” she says. “Women need the option of something sexy. We don’t want an average product. I look at the market and see a lot of average product.”
“Our goal is to provide a really lovely product,” she adds. “And I think Sassybax is better-looking than anything on the market.”
Horan Kennedy is a classic entrepreneur involved in all aspects of her business — she still designs every piece herself — and comfortable with her brand’s status as a top-shelf boutique line.
“Mass-market is not my thing,” she says, noting that she’s twice rebuffed offers to join major labels. As an independent, she gets to make choices like manufacturing in Montreal, where the yarns are softer but the costs are far greater than fabricating in China or Taiwan, for instance.
The 7-piece Sassybax Pretty collection is a slick combination of superior fabrics, French-inspired design and some good old sleight-of-hand: it’s often difficult to tell where the control panel ends and the elegant lace embroidery and other detail elements begin.
The collection includes a thong bodysuit and a control thong — a control thong?!?! — although you’ll probably be most taken with two pieces that are typically thought of as feminine lingerie staples — a lace-trimmed camisole and slip, both with slimming properties.
Click on the photos below for more information about each piece. You can find the Sassybax Pretty shapewear collection in Saks, leading lingerie boutiques and at Sassybax.com.
And to keep up with Amanda Horan Kennedy’s thoughts and plans, keep an eye out for her new blog, which will launch this fall.