DTC

Taylor Swift wore this brand’s $60 activewear skort. Here’s what happened next.

A one-second clip of the pop star wearing PopFlex’s lavender Pirouette Skort, created by Blogilates founder Cassey Ho, led to a level of virality it couldn’t have prepared for.
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PopFlex, @TaylorSwift/YouTube, @popflex_active/Instagram

4 min read

Just over a fortnight ago, Taylor Swift released her latest album The Tortured Poets Department, chronicling the heartbreak of love lost and the pitfalls of fame—and with the introduction of her #ForaFortnightChallenge, she also fulfilled an activewear brand’s wildest dreams.

To promote the album released on April 19, Swift posted a YouTube Short showing clips from her life as a “fortnight recap,” which included a shot of her on a pickleball court wearing a lavender athletic skort. The video has amassed over 91 million views, and while the singer is shown wearing it for only a second, the Instagram account @TaylorSwiftStyled quickly identified it as the brand PopFlex’s Pirouette Skort in “digital lavender.”

The $60 skort has since enchanted consumers, seeing a 700% sales lift, according to Shopify, which powers the DTC brand’s site, selling out in every color and size in a matter of minutes. It’s been a surreal experience for PopFlex founder and CEO Cassey Ho, the pilates maven behind Blogilates who debuted the brand in 2016. “The coolest thing about the entire experience has been the community support and just genuine excitement for me, because I’ve been a Swiftie for so long,” Ho told Retail Brew.

But, as Ho noted, “virality is something you can’t really plan for,” and PopFlex has been hustling to respond both to the spike in popularity and the reignited fight against dupes that Ho knows all too well.

A lot going on at the moment: When the skort went viral the day of the album release, the PopFlex team acted fast. They tacked on “(Cassey’s Version)” to the product name to pay homage to Swift's label for the albums she's re-recorded and also updated the brand’s landing page with a banner referencing Swift’s album, with a black-and-white image of the skort label “Tortured Pirouette Department.

“It wasn’t a strategy in the moment,” Ho said. “It was just us being excited doing Swiftie things.”

The brand had its second-highest sales day ever that Friday, Ho said, but it couldn’t just simply restock the product. The sales rush led Ho to decide to accept pre-orders for the first time—and PopFlex said it has since received 10,000+ orders for the lavender shade the singer wore, set to ship in August. PopFlex then had to start the long process of producing more skorts, including ordering the many fabrics to be woven and detailing to be made, which then have to be dyed multiple times to achieve that lavender color, then cut, sewn together, packaged, and shipped out.

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“People are so used to fast fashion and things being restocked… it’s not like that, when you are ordering this pre-ordered skirt, we are making it from scratch,” Ho said.

Better than revenge: Fashion dupes were a motivating factor, but those types of brands were a motivating factor in its decision to accept pre-orders. It wanted to encourage customers from heading to sites selling dupes of the design, Ho said, an issue it had previously faced when the skort had gained popularity on TikTok.

“[Duping had] been bad before that. And now with Taylor, it’s astronomically bad,” she said.

Ho’s journey with the Pirouette Skort design isn’t dissimilar, she noted, from Taylor Swift’s years-long effort to reclaim ownership of her masters after they were sold in 2020. She’s twice taken to her Blogilates blog to detail the bad blood between PopFlex and fast fashion giant Shein, which she claims duped her Pirouette Skort design last year. That spurred Ho to begin working on a design patent, which was approved in January of this year. To celebrate, Ho says she posted a TikTok showing off the patent set to Swift’s “Karma.” Shein did not return Retail Brew’s request for comment.

PopFlex has found brands duping the skort often use photos and videos of its models, customers, or even Ho herself wearing the skort to promote the rip-off product, she noted. “Right now it is whack-a-mole trying to get everything down,” she said.

As more dupes go up, Ho said she’s beginning to see more Swifities support her. “That is strength in numbers. I don’t have that, like, Taylor Swift has that.” Ultimately, Ho said that while the new eyes on the brand won’t change her approach to the business or her designs, she hopes the invisible string between her and Swift’s experiences will have an impact on duping.

“I hope it changes the game for really respecting where the art came from, not just wearing a dupe because it’s cheap or whatever, but knowing that when you do wear dupes, you’re hurting a lot of people, creative people, artists, everyone who worked on it in that process for you to be able to get it at that price,” Ho said.

Retail news that keeps industry pros in the know

Retail Brew delivers the latest retail industry news and insights surrounding marketing, DTC, and e-commerce to keep leaders and decision-makers up to date.