Shapewear doesn’t always live up to its promises, according to a pair of unsatisfied customers. Massacusetts residents Annique Bellot and Tara Stefani have filed a class action lawsuit against both Maidenform and Wacoal for what they say are false claims about the products’ permanent results.
In the suit, the women claim that Wacoal’s $60 iPant and Maidenform’s $38 Flexees Instant Slimmer products mislead customers by promising to “permanently change women’s body shape and skin tone.” Both products are made with a nylon microfiber fabric called Novarel Slim, produced by a Spanish company called Nurel. Bellot and Stefani say they paid up to 50 percent premiums for this type of shapewear and were led on by false advertising. The iPant, for example claims it will “reshape your lower body in 28 days with lasting results,” according to the lawsuit, by releasing “ingredients into your skin while you move” including Vitamin E to prevent the effects of aging and caffeine to reduce the appearance of cellulite.
“There are a lot of false claims about their weight loss products and we believe, as alleged in the complaint, that the Maidenform and Wacoal products are misrepresented,” Mathew Pawa, the attorney representing the two plaintiffs, told Yahoo Shine. “We’re doing this to change corporate behavior and avoid misleading claims in the marketplace.”
Maidenform has not defended the product’s claims, but rather admitted to a mistake. In a public statement, the company notes it “has recently learned that the manufacturer of the fabric used in certain shapewear products marketed by Maidenform may be unable to provide the level of substantiation for advertising claims that Maidenform expects.” There is nothing wrong with the products, the statement goes on to say, but unsatisfied consumers are entitled to a refund.
The plaintiffs, however, seek more than just a refund. They’re also asking for an undisclosed amount in punitive damages and an injunction halting the companies from profiting off the products.
Unfortunately, many products don’t deliver on their lofty claims, as anyone who’s ever been duped by an antiaging cream or late-night infomercial can attest. But that doesn’t matter. “Consumers don’t have testing labs in their homes,” says Pawa. “The reason we have consumer fraud laws is because we have to be able to depend on products in the marketplace to have a certain level of honesty behind them.”
“They’re preying on vulnerable women with lies and misrepresentation, saying if they wear this underwear — because there’s caffeine and other chemicals in the fabric — they’ll lose weight,” Pawa’s co-counsel, Tim Howard, adds. “There’s nothing you can apply topically to lose weight. They’re charging 40 percent more for snake oil.”
Yahoo Shine reached out to both Maidenform and Wacoal, but neither company has provided additional comments. While neither of their websites currently have information pertaining to Novarel Slim in their products, other underwear retailers like BareNecessities.com still list the fabric and the alleged false claims in their product listings.
This is not the first time shapewear has come under fire. Another lawsuit alleging false claims on the same products was filed last year in New York. Meanwhile, the figure-squeezing garment industry as a whole took a blow earlier this year, when some medical experts said the fabric may cause long-term health problems.