The New Shape of Retail

Spanx's fun, stylish shapewear is a runaway hit. What next? While traditional retailers scramble to get online, Spanx is opening its own stores. As other high-end, high-concept fashion brands have discovered, there is no substitute for the touch and feel of brick and mortar

Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Sara Blakely understands the power of show-and-tell. The inventor of Spanx shapewear and founder of the company that sells it, Blakely recalls pitching her first product, a pair of slimming, footless pantyhose designed to be invisible even under a pair of pants. A cold call to Neiman Marcus in 2000 got her a meeting, but after five minutes the buyer started to lose interest. Blakely ditched the prepared pitch and moved the meeting into the bathroom. There she changed into a pair of ill-fitting cream pants and pointed to the resulting lumps, bulges and panty lines. She modeled them again--this time...

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