Bethenny Frankel Talks New Body-Positive Denim Line, Disaster Relief Efforts


Bethenny Frankel interview

Bethenny Frankel of reality TV show Real Housewives of New York City and founder of the Skinnygirl low calorie alcoholic beverage brand recently launched her own denim line, Skinnygirl Jeans, which includes jackets, skirts, knitwear, and of course, jeans. Frankel explains that the line is designed to empower all women, encouraging inclusivity and body positivity.

We caught up with the Bravo star at the launch of her line at Lord & Taylor Eastchester to talk about her empire and recent disaster relief efforts.

Why do you think the Skinnygirl brand is so successful?

BF: I think the brand is so successful because no one has been speaking to women. If you think about all of the popular jeans for women, they sound like they’re all men’s names or owned by men or designed by men, and I don’t think since Gloria Vanderbilt there has really been a female empowerment figure speaking to women and what they want and how they feel and what an emotional purchase it is, and that going into a dressing room [to try on jeans] is very scary.

People get anxiety — they get upset [when trying on jeans]. And also to not try to cover up women’s bodies of any size. People all have flaws and all have assets and the clothes are designed to show someone’s body, and that women should be proud of their bodies. [The jeans are] for every body, and women are embracing that, they’re feeling it, they want to be part of it.

It’s the first time since the creation of the brand that women are really understanding what the meaning of the brand is. It is to allow, to indulge, to not feel guilty, to not shame yourself, to not feel bad about yourself.

The [Skinnygirl] cocktail had agave nectar in it — it had sugar in it. It wasn’t something that was trying to make people deprived, and the jeans are not saying, “You need to be skinny or you want to aspire to be skinny.” [The brand] means that everyone’s unleashing her inner “skinny girl.

That’s why women are feeling themselves, feeling sexy. Everyone’s butt looks incredible which is the important thing, we were on HSN and the host said that it was the first time that she ever showed her “asset” in 25 years, so I just think it’s a sort of a little bit of a movement in women just feeling good about themselves and just owning it, whatever it is.

Can you tell me a little bit about your initiative “bstrong,” which launched last year, and its recent impact?

BF: bstrong initially was to help women in crisis, and then once the disasters all started happening one after another, it became a relief effort. It started in Texas, went to Mexico, [we’ve been] to Guatemala, [we] just got back from North Carolina.

The biggest effort was in Puerto Rico where we sent approximately $60 million in relief, and we’ve raised well over $1 million in cash. I did a female raise recently with just 10 strong women just seeing how much money and what kind of impact 10 women could make, and we raised like $120,000 in two days.

I was able to distribute cash cards there — not to mention all of the awareness and these people are buying #thisisacrisis t-shirts. It has just become a business to me also, just to be able to be organized and be able to pull together an army of people to help when there’s a disaster. I think that I realize that I like when something’s very dire and immediate and it feels like a business in the sense that I know what to do, I can get it done and execute and actually make a difference.