You may remember Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine from their prime time TV show on the BBC, but what has happened to the pair since? The pair talk frankly to Lingerie Insight about developments in their shapewear collection and reveal why they have recently been spending all their time in Israel.
Meeting Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine is an intimidating prospect. Having watched them torture people on TV for many years in BBC show What Not to Wear, a visit to the hairdresser’s seemed in order and the day’s outfit didn’t consist, for once, of the sole item to remain outside the laundry basket.
Yet, the first thought to pop to mind on perusing the pair – at the launch event for their new tummy tucker vest and shape up shortie – is not fear of judgement. It is, instead, a rather random reflection on how much of the pair’s success could simply be down to the extreme contrast in their personal body shapes, even more apparent in ‘real life’ than in their TV appearances.
For those not familiar with the show, which aired on UK TV from 2001 to 2005, Trinny is extremely tall and slim and, at London’s Soho House, she towers above all others in attendance. Business partner Susannah, however, is on the curvier end of the spectrum, possessing a figure more in line with the current fifties, Mad Men trend.
The TV personalities are by no means oblivious to the huge disparity and its ability to appeal to women possessing a wide range of different body types. In fact, they are refreshingly open about everything regarding themselves and their personal brand.
“People aspire to be Trinny and they identify with me,” Susannah says. “That’s how it works. “
But, isn’t the hourglass figure in fashion at the moment?
“Yes, I know. I’m so thrilled,” she says. “Finally, I’m in fashion – it’s fantastic. Big tits. Big ass. Great. About b****y time too, actually.”
Both women are a perfect advertisement for their brand and the different uses to which it can be put. Susannah is currently wearing the shapewear, as she claims she does every day, whereas Trinny, who is not quite such a regular wearer, will usually don her products to work out or attend red carpet events.
“I have got them on now,” Susannah says. “The all in one body smoother is on my body. The tummy tucker has been my saviour… There are a lot of dresses I can’t get into without wearing them.”
Trinny, despite her ultra slim frame, agrees.
“I’m slim,” she says, “but if I ever wear a dress like Susannah wears – those tight dresses – I have a long back and a saggy ass. But, if I wear the bum tummer thigh lifter, it lifts my ass, so it looks like my waist is shorter.
“I wear the tummy tucker vest when I work out,” she adds, “because it covers my gusset and I just like to cover my gusset.”
In fact, Trinny is such a fan that the outspoken businesswomen have decided to launch a new sportswear range. The line will feature a development of the newly launched tummy tuck vest and a shapewear legging, to be introduced this June.
Trinny says: “We are going to take the tummy tuck vest and make that into a slightly sportswear range, because I think when you work out, especially Pilates and yoga, if you wear something fitted and pulling you in, it motivates you to do well and, if you wear something big and baggy, it makes you feel…well, big and baggy.
While, Trinny may use them for working out in, the new leggings were originally developed as a solution for larger women, who don’t feel confident wearing the clinging garment.
“We were in Australia last year and using leggings a lot,” Trinny said. “It’s a key staple now. It’s not going to go away. But, when you bend, you see the flesh and, I said, ‘you know, we need a legging that is so f******g supportive that it gives every size the opportunity to feel safe to wear a legging.”
The two women use their observations of ‘real women’ often garnered through their TV shows, to inspire designs for their shapewear brand. Their latest project takes place in Israel and involves taking twelve men and women from the street, dressing them up, learning about their lives and placing them on a catwalk. Susannah claims it is like providing ‘four years worth of therapy’ in one day.
But it is not purely altruism that drives the pair. While they may enjoy giving women back their confidence (after, possibly, breaking it down), they fully realise the business sense in what they do.
Fifty percent of Trinny and Susannah’s business is now international, a big evolution from the ten percent with which they first started seven years ago. The brand now sells in ‘29 to 30 countries,’ a large part of which is down to where they sell their TV shows.
“The show is like an advert,” Trinny says. “It advocates everything we believe in. We use the shape underwear in the show. We don’t say it is ours, because that would be inappropriate.
“I think when you are starting a new product, usually you have to spend a tremendous amount of money making a place in the market, but we have a name and we have enough people that know us, and we sell our TV shows in 30 countries around the world, so wherever we sell those shows we realise we have a presence, so we can sell in the product.
She adds: “Series one will come out in March [in Israel] and then you wait a year, because you need a penetration. That’s when you bring in product. You don’t want to bring it in to early. You need to have established a name.”
Susannah agrees with her business partner and her claim that most of their value lies in their television presence which, while no longer as huge in the UK, seems to be gaining impressive momentum globally.
“I would say our value is more in the TV side, because it takes so much money to market a product from day one,” Susannah says.
“Obviously, the money shot is the fact that we have been on TV. We are faces and people will trust what we say, so we say something is good and people will know.”
There is a lot more competition in the areas of both shapewear and TV makeovers than when the two started out in their careers. While this is obviously something Trinny and Susannah are obviously aware of and are managing largely to overcome, they cannot help but put in a little dig at the UK’s latest makeover guru.
“It is not just like we are some guy who has put his name on a bra or a pair of underpants, like… (she hesitates) Gok Wan,” Susannah says. “We wear our product, we designed our product, we are involved, we know the kind of women who will wear our product. We have used it on our shows time and time, and time again.”
“[Shapewear] is like our makeover shows,” Trinny adds. “When we started makeover shows, we were the only ones and then people see it is an interesting market, and get in there.”
One aspect that Trinny and Susannah believe differentiates their brand, and which they pride themselves on, is the quality of their product. They also like to emphasise that they were one of the first brands to produce seamless shapewear. The items are not manufactured in China, but in Belgium, with a company called Cette. The pair first met with the brothers who run the company seven years ago in rather strange circumstances.
“There was Jean Marc and his brother, and we sat down this table – very polite Belgians – and we discussed moist gussets, you know not sweating in your vagina. It was the weirdest f*****g conversation.”
As for where the brand will head into the future, not even Trinny and Susannah seem to know for sure, but even TV channels, such as QVC, could potentially provide a retail platform for their shapewear products.
Susannah said: “I think it is a whole different way of presenting, you know, the QVC way of presenting. I would literally be there in my g-string, showing before and after the knickers.”
The two women don’t mince their words and Trinny doesn’t feel the need to end things on a different note, describing their target market with characteristic bluntness.”
“It is not women who want to go and wear sexy underwear to screw a man that night and don’t mind a VPL, because it is going to be sexy. It is not for that kind of woman.”