Battling pre-Christmas bulge? Wrap yourself in shapewear

Mon Nov 30, 2009 12:53pm EST
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By Belinda Goldsmith

CANBERRA (Reuters Life!) - Struggling to hide the love handles or muffin top for that holiday party? Underwear makers are finding the desire for a snap svelte silhouette has created a booming line for women, and now men, in shapewear.

Shapewear, or undergarments that help slim and sculpt a figure by holding it in, has become the fastest growing category in intimate apparel for women, with lines available in most major stores, but it is also now taking off for men.

Bra and panty maker Maidenform Brands Inc. this month reported a quarterly profit nearly doubled from last year which CEO Maurice Reznik put down to innovation -- namely shapewear.

Reznik said Maidenform has the largest market share in shapewear and he is optimistic in the continued growth of the category as shoppers globally battle bulging waistlines.

"I'm bullish on shapewear," said Reznik.

Trend trackers have dated the rise of shapewear back to 2000 when influential U.S. TV talk show queen Oprah Winfrey declared her enthusiasm for a brand called Spanx.

U.S. market researcher NPD Group has estimated that the market has tripled in the past decades to be worth $750 million in annual sales at the end of 2008 despite some women complaining that the tight fitting garments can be hard to get on and off and can cause complications when it comes to using the bathroom.

But it is not just women using underwear to smooth out or reduce the bumps and lift sagging parts.   Continued...

<p>A model poses in Maidenform's Flexees Fat-Free Dressing Tank Top in an undated image. REUTERS/Maidenform/Handout</p>