NEW YORK — Retailers equate the name “Coty” with a license to make money.
For the most part, launches from Coty, whether a new fragrance or the introduction of The Healing Garden, have been welcomed with open arms — and shelf space.
“We always looked forward to Coty fragrance launches,” recalled Jeanette Solomon, a former buyer with the now-defunct K&B drug chain. In her 30 years of buying, Solomon has witnessed many Coty successes, such as Stetson and Exclamation. “They’ve really never had a failure.”
In the Seventies and Eighties the mass market fragrance business was robust and led by a host of companies such as Coty, Jovan, Dana and Revlon. Even with a multitude of competition, Coty was the brand to watch.
In the late 1980s, a shakeout commenced that virtually left Coty as the only major mass market fragrance company in the fight. At that time, Walgreens’ top fragrance merchant, Steve Lubin, lauded Coty for sticking with the trade channel and the industry.
Coty’s biggest payoff came in 1993 when its marketing team hit upon the runaway success of Vanilla Fields. Vanilla was emerging as a hot ingredient, and Coty was first to put it into a scent. “It was a fragrance that brought everyone into stores,” said Sally Yanke, buyer for Medic Drug. Vanilla Fields initiated a boom in vanilla scents, and the fragrance was a top performer for several years.
Although it’s hard to top a Vanilla Fields, Coty continues to be ahead of consumer trends in scents. Today, subtracting out diverted brands, Coty is the biggest fragrance marketer in mass stores.
Coty’s brands secured a stellar reputation under the watch of former chief executive officer Jerry Abernathy. “Jerry knew everyone,” said Solomon of the former executive. Reached recently in his retirement, Abernathy discussed how mass retailing of just 10 years ago was a different world than today. “Buyers made more gut decisions,” he said. “Today the numbers rule.” The fact that results made it difficult to gamble on new fragrances made it harder for any company other than Coty to enter the marketplace. Coty continued to serve up the marketing money needed for new launches while competitors fell by the wayside.And although runaway hits are harder to come by than ever, scents such as The Healing Garden Waters and Adidas are among the firm’s successes in a lackluster mass fragrance world. And few words can describe the excitement delivered as the Celine Dion fragrance became available in mass after a successful launch in midtier outlets. Recently the company added a scent to The Healing Garden called In Bloom that retailers from Sears to Walgreens herald as a new technology in capturing floral scents.
Then there are Coty’s efforts with the Mary-kateandashley fragrance, which Kathy Lindsay, senior category merchandiser at Wegmans, said has generated “well overdue volume for the fragrance category.” Coty first introduced the tween scent at Wal-Mart and has since rolled it out to other doors.
Perhaps one of the crowning moments for Coty in the past 10 years has been its involvement in creating the aromatherapy category for mass. The company unwrapped The Healing Garden in the early 1990s and ushered in an entirely new consumer to drug, mass and discount stores.
“The Healing Garden put drugstores on the map,” recalled Valerie Cheyney, buyer for Happy Harry’s in Newark, Del. With its appealing wood fixture, The Healing Garden proved that mass stores could sell an upscale line. The only failure for the brand was that its success spurred a rush of competitors to knock it off.
The Healing Garden is now undergoing renovation to push it back to the forefront in a much-copied industry. One avenue for growth has been to extend the brand franchise into related categories, such as cellulite reduction. The brand’s entry into that area has done well, according to Happy Harry’s Cheyney.
Coty was once a power in cosmetics, with an array of specialty products. While it has mostly exited color cosmetics, it does have the powerful Rimmel collection in its arsenal. Selling through Wal-Mart has also proved to be a great testing ground for Rimmel, a cosmetics line now rolling out to other doors with success (see related story in this section). Retailers hope Rimmel can duplicate its success at Wal-Mart in their doors.
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)
The @cfda has shifted the dates of #NYFW, with Men’s showing on February 5 through February 7, and Women’s will directly follow, running from February 8 through 14. The preliminary schedule will be released on the CFDA’s web site in the next few days, but Mark Beckham, VP of marketing for the CFDA, revealed that @rafsimons will be back to close the men’s-specific part of the week with a show on February 7 #wwdfashion (📷: Kelly Taub)
@ferragamo is introducing a new space dedicated to the development of women’s and men’s leather good samples. The laboratory, which is created eco-friendly materials and designed to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes, will allow the company to expand its accessories offering through traditional artisanal approaches. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
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“There is no formula. There is no guideline. I can watch Ted Talks all day, but there is no one who can advise me on exactly what it is I should be doing,” said @ronniefieg, CEO of @kith, in an interview with WWD’s @ariahughes at the brand’s new SoHo office in Manhattan. Head to WWD.com to see how Fieg went from hanging out in shoe stockrooms at 13 to building his own business. #wwdfashion (📷: @weston.wells)
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion