Meet SPANX, the Store

Hold your breath for some uplifting news: SPANX is coming to a mall near you.

Red-blooded Middle Americans like Gwyneth Paltrow have already let the world know how much they love the simple hosiery brand. Katy Perry worries about “look[ing] fat” without her SPANX tights, while Miley Cyrus refers to hers as “a gift from God” and Tina Fey sees them as “my dream come true” (we’ll take her word for it). Now the company and its media team prepare for the big time after blowing up thanks to the brilliance of its founder and its masterful promotion of a very basic concept: practical comfort tinged with feel-good new age vibes.

OK, we all love SPANX. But do we love SPANX enough to turn a pantyhose maker into a retail giant? The company’s first boutique opened in a Washington, DC suburb last month, and sister branches will soon grace the nation’s largest malls in King of Prussia, PA and Paramus, NJ. So will the little underwear startup grow big enough to take on Victoria’s Secret (aka the Fox News internship program)?

The brand’s selling point is very different than Victoria’s patented “make me sexy” bit: In keeping with the theme of self-acceptance and comfort, the company intends to greet shoppers at each store with “cheer squads” that will pave the way for “sales clerks with ‘super-shaping powers’” descending “to recommend products such as the $98 smoothing bodysuit to nip in the hips and enhance the thighs without plastic surgery”. Founder and Richard Branson student Sara Blakely described her vision of the stores as “a place where everybody knows your name — and your bra size!”

Sounds very specific!

SPANX benefits from the very human presence of a CEO who wants to become a Martha Stewart-level brand ambassador—and who never hesitates to have a little fun in the process.

Blakely, who is now the world’s youngest female self-made billionaire, had her eureka moment when she cut the feet off her control-top panty hose in frustration. But SPANX now looks to play the dual roles of pants-maker and spiritual trainer: Company messages revolve around making women feel “stronger, happier, and better about themselves and their potential” after walking out of a SPANX store, and the company implicitly promises to make customers look better without the annoyance and inconvenience of long, boring workouts.

So let us know: What do you think of the SPANX brand? Is it ready for retail?

If SPANX is the new model for success in the field of casual wear, what can other brands learn from its winning approach?

Oh, and one final question: SPANX for men is happening, right?

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.