Kim Kardashian’s SKIMS Named the Underwear Partner of NBA and the Rise of the Super Influencer

Mary Donné
4 min readDec 28, 2023

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you’ll probably be aware that SKIMS is Kim Kardashian’s shape and loungewear brand.

Founded by the US reality (and home video) star and businesswoman, the brand was officially launched in September 2019.

There’s a trend for crossover from underwear to loungewear, or ‘athleisure’ and indeed the notable example of this crossover is SKIMS. While it started out as a pure shapewear company it quickly expanded to include loungewear, knickers, sportswear, pyjamas and swimwear. The brand is currently valued at $4 billion.

This is a busy and still-growing market. Sales in this sector have been increasing consistently year on year. Gap Inc.’s popular brand Athleta, is on track to reach $2 billion in sales next year, and newer brands like Knix and Parade — and of course SKIMS — have joined in too.

Kim Kardashian and the NBA

SKIMS has just landed a multi-year sponsorship deal with the NBA, becoming their first official underwear partner.

And this is where Kim’s marketing genius comes into it. You see, prior to this week, SKIMS was primarily targeting a female audience. This market is popular but increasingly saturated; just this morning I must have seen at least four ads for shapewear on my own socials.

SKIMS launched its first menswear line a few days prior to the NBA partnership. The SKIMS’ men’s range consists of athletic base layers, set to compete with brands like Under Armour, Nike and, yes, Gymshark (another FMCG product built on a personal brand).

Kim has used this launch to lean into the sports community by collaborating with sporting greats, with a global following, such as Neymar (footballer), Nick Bosa (NFL football player), and Shai Gilgeous Alexander (Canadian basketball player).

These are all icons admired by fans within their respective game, as well as culturally for their personal style.

Each of them promoted the SKIMS collaboration on their own Instagram, which gave the brand exposure to a whopping 219.5M!!! people.

And now, SKIMS is revealed (no pun intended) to be the ‘official underwear partner’ of the of the NBA. Who knew there even was such a thing?! Whatever. If you know the USA market this is H U G E!

The Kardashian/NBA Collaboration

Partnering with the NBA has a mountain of advantages for Kim Kardashian. For example, reaching a new and younger audience (Kim is over 40 these days), the global stage of the Olympics, partnering with individual players, potential new sales channels and co-branded products.

SKIMS is now able to target women via men. So potentially instead of buying their wives and girlfriends Victorias Secret underwear or Lulu Lemon loungewear, they may well now choose SKIMS having been introduced to the brand via the NBA collab.

It works the other way around too! A quick Google suggests that 38% of women are avid to casual NBA fans (vs. 69% of men) — and who often buys their boyfriends’ and husbands’ underwear? Yup! Two -thirds — yes TWO THIRDS! — of women. This is incidentally the same strategy that Old Spice followed in their brilliant 2010 ad featuring Isaiah Mustafa.

What do the NBA get from collaborating with Kim Kardashian?

Ideally, they’ll be able to engage new demographics through the sports and fashion crossover lens, plus of course Kim’s own massive platform.

SKIMS and Kim Kardashian Marketing

SKIMS is a brand that understands its audience and the psychology of its customers. They don’t sell products, they sell inclusion and self-confidence. This is massive.

Just as Rhianna’s Fenty Beauty positioned itself as the foundation and base makeup for every skin tone, Skims is positioned as a shapewear solution for Every Body with a range sized XXS to 5XL. ,

Then there’s the clever on-point PR. For example, the out-of-the-box nipple bra (that makes you look like you’re permanently cold) to raise money for environmental charities!

The very entertaining launch video went viral and the bra completely SOLD OUT on the website in days.

SKIMS is a masterclass in:

· Well-defined strategy.

· Big, bold, creative ideas.

· Masses of earned media.

· Global talkability.

· Use of the perfect influencers

Oh, and the timing isn’t coincidental either … the new line has dropped just as we’re dusting down our credit cards for Holiday shopping!

Kim Kardashian — Super Influencer!

SKIMS was given every chance of success with Kim Kardashian behind it, but there’s more to this brand than a celebrity founder.

Love her or not, Kim Kardashian is an expert at marketing generally, and humanising her brand specifically. Like her old chum, Paris Hilton, she’s also created more than one billion-dollar FMCG businesses in the process. Not bad for a ‘Hollywood reality-TV airhead’, is it?

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Mary Donné

Media Buyer | House Stark 🐺 | Slytherin 🐍 | ENTJ | Gen X 🎸