FashMash Pioneers: Cutting Edge Product Innovation with Heist Studios


FashMash Pioneers: Cutting Edge Product Innovation with Heist Studios

At Isobar we help brands and retailers deliver high quality ecommerce experiences via website creation & technology innovation. We are proud to be partnered with FashMash Pioneers – an annual programme of monthly talks in which the world’s brightest minds dissect the future of technology & fashion.

On January 30th, FashMash founders Rosanna Falconer and Rachel Arthur made a new year return hosting their first FashMash Pioneers talk of 2019. The chosen pioneer was Fiona Fairhurst, the inventor responsible for her Olympic winning swimsuit design in 2000, known as FASTSKIN.

Fast forward to today, Fairhurst has now turned her attention away from Olympic performance – transferring her scientific design approach to direct to consumer brand, Heist.

Fairhurst, more specifically, is bringing this approach to shapewear – using contouring panels that model the body’s fascia matrix – the connective that stabilises our muscles and internal organs.

This year, FashMash promises to bring more thought-provoking topics – closing the gap between technology & fashion.

Three key themes emerged from the discussion with Fairhurst.

Olympic Innovation

The chair person for the evening was Rachael Arthur, who opened the conversation by revisiting Fairhurst’s invention of the shark-skin inspired swimsuit for Speedo.

Fairhurst explained that her team broke into many new areas of technology, transferring technologies from the automotive industry, working with NASA and working with wind tunnels to implement learnings back into clothing.

“It was really important to work with the market i.e. the Olympic swimmers, getting them on board. Going from tiny speedos to a full body suit was a huge leap for them.”

Market research and testing is vital for brands and retailers planning to launch a new product. Involving your target market during the product testing phase can be invaluable to guarantee consumer centricitywhere brand and consumer are in alignment.

A method the likes of Twitter decided to employ this January with a public beta test of its new features. Incorporating the feedback received from specified users before launching them on a wider scale.


Old doesn’t always necessarily mean gold & convention doesn’t always take priority over innovation. Arthur shifted the conversation and asked – how do you go from the Olympics & swimwear to underwear & shapewear?

“For me it was an immediate connection, I’m very into contour clothing for the human body. Also, I’m a woman who fundamentally understands that all the product we wear is broken,” Fairhurst shared.

“I want to give something back for women. I like when I can make a big step change. It’s nice working in undeveloped areas.”

At the core of the consumer, there is a desire for products that solve age old problems that have been accepted over time. Thus, leading to the highly anticipated new normal – in which science and technology can open the doors for higher quality garments.

But how do you disrupt product convention?

Fairhurst noted “I don’t believe in marketing myth and smoking mirrors. I believe in having truth. If your product is stacked up and it really works and you communicate that message effectively, you cannot fail!”

A Scientific Approach

Fairhurst’s model for Heist is based on science and technology, innovation and what its customers are after. For Heist this revolves around women.

The pioneer went on to describe the science behind the product innovation of the “outer body”, shapewear by Heist.

“Fundamentally I always look at the body, I start by looking at anatomical drawings and physiology. I started by looking at the fascia. It was seen as a useless piece of the body.”

This scientific approach is what differentiates Heist’s products in the underwear market. Providing a brand-new science led experience with tangible results. Heist have recorded its shapewear to take up to 5cm off the waists of its female consumers.

Fairhurst expanded “I wanted to mimic the fascia. The fascia is what holds our bodies together. We would just be blobby masses without our fascia. It’s not our muscles holding us together or skeletal structure – it’s your fascia.”

Heist provide a product that rivals convention by delivering an experience that includes emotional design – boosting confidence, comfortability and convenience. 

With consumer options increasing, clothing brands must take note of this type of innovation. Brands must focus on a sustainable proposition and upgrade product quality thus increasing the value perception for consumers.

Fairhurst concluded the evening by sharing her advice for the rest of the fashion industry & also what to expect from Heist in the future.

“You have to do innovation that’s real, not just token gestures. You have to be bold and brave which means taking risks. You do the right thing and people will just follow.” 

“We've got the ultimate challenge, which is redesigning the bra. That’s why I joined Heist, because I really wanted to take on that challenge. That's the big one!”

The next FashMash Pioneers talk takes place on the evening of 28th February, with the renowned image maker, Nick Wright taking the stage.



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