Kim Kardashian still remembers her father telling her about the time, not long after the O.J. Simpson trial, when he went to see a psychic. The trial had been a difficult period for Robert Kardashian, who hadn’t practiced law in years. But back in the late ’60s, he and Simpson had become close friends at the University of Southern California, and when, in June of 1994, the former football star was charged with the double murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman, Robert agreed to join his legal defense team, mostly as a liaison between Simpson and his other lawyers. The trial thrust Robert and his family into the public eye for nearly a year, an exhausting level of scrutiny. Then he started receiving death threats. So one afternoon he sought out a seer to find out what the fates had in store for his family.
The meeting went against his nature. A devout Christian, he’d always heeded the Bible’s warning against psychics and mediums. But now here he was, listening to a prophecy that was so outlandish that it confirmed his suspicions. “She saw my last name and said, ‘Kardashian will be internationally known,’ ” Robert later told Kim. “This is how I know they’re full of shit!”
Kim Kardashian recalls this as we sit on the couches in her Calabasas, California, business headquarters—a contemplative space that feels more like an art gallery. She wears black lounge pants, a black hoodie, and a white tank—all by Skims, the label she cofounded in 2019. This isn’t her first business: She’s also launched two beauty lines, several perfumes, an energy drink, a mobile game, and a private equity fund. But this may be her biggest phenomenon yet (not counting, of course, her family’s reality TV shows, which have aired 24 seasons to date).
Known for its inclusive approach to sizes and hues, Skims was born out of Kim’s frustration with dyeing her existing shapewear (a category then dominated by Spanx) in the bathtub with tea bags to better match her skin tone and cutting off the legs to better suit her red-carpet outfits. The brand has now expanded from shapewear to underwear, loungewear, socks, intimates, and swimwear, and plans to open its first physical store next year, on LA’s Sunset Boulevard. Currently valued at $4 billion, Skims soon stands to be worth even more, with its newly launched men’s line and a partnership as the official underwear of the NBA (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Nick Bosa, and Neymar are the brand’s official spokesmen). Kim believes men will benefit from the same confidence boost women get from Skims. Men have similar insecurities about their bodies as women, she says, “whether they talk about them or not.”
Skims Mens’ range of offerings—including tanks, tees, and leggings—aligns the company more with a brand like Nike than with Spanx. “Kim is the Michael Jordan of the influencer generation,” says Skims cofounder Jens Grede. “Many 19-year-olds who never watched Jordan play and don’t play basketball themselves wear Air Jordan sneakers every day. Maybe you don’t watch The Kardashians every single week, but you’re a Skims customer.”