NEW YORK — Breaking into the mass-market color cosmetics business is not for the faint of heart. Even powerful players have tried to introduce new color brands and failed — Procter & Gamble Co.’s Olay brand, and Revlon’s Vital Radiance and Jane Cosmetics, which at one point was owned by the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.
Against the odds, the up-and-coming brand E.l.f. Cosmetics (Eyes. Lips. Face.) is gaining traction by taking the road less traveled. The brand launched online first and is building its retail business.
“We’re disruptive because we do things differently,” said E.l.f. founder and chief executive officer Joseph Shamah.
Industry sources estimate that E.l.f. is about a $50 million business, and roughly 70 percent of its sales are generated in stores. It counts Target and Walgreens among its retail partners. E.l.f. Studio, which is positioned as a professional makeup artist line, will be featured in an exclusive department at a Walgreens set to open in Hollywood.
Next year could prove to be the real test of Shamah’s disruptive course. The company plans to unleash its largest collection of new items to date: 144 stockkeeping units across a number of new categories. The brand also is looking to expand beyond Target and Walgreens to other discount and drugstore and even food chains. In some cases, the brand aims to gain a foothold with new retailers with seasonal programs. The company’s close ties to the apparel business through Shamah’s family also enabled E.l.f. to distribute its color products in stores such as Forever 21, Urban Outfitters and Ross.
The brand is moving full-throttle ahead, said retail executives, with an arsenal including more nail color — holiday gift sets with 15 colors for $15 — new eye shadow quads, “chubby” lip stains, an eye refresh item with a roller ball and potentially BB creams and other corrective skin care.
E.l.f. also remains committed to e-commerce. Its digital effort allows for deep product assortments that stores can’t accommodate, said Shawn Haynes, vice president of retail sales. The devoted E.l.f. consumers serve as a “test” market to identify the biggest hits, which can roll out to stores, he said. For instance, Studio Mascara & Shadow Shield — an item so hot that one can’t even be found in E.l.f.’s New York showroom — was a hit online first. The tool is held below the eye during makeup application to reduce smudges and shadow overflow. Other items aiding online sales included baked eye shadow palettes, High Definition Blush and Mineral Primers in the Studio line.
In the same vein, E.l.f.’s online business can sift out failures and eliminate them quickly instead of having a flop in stores.
While e-commerce provides a testing ground, Shamah doesn’t believe it detracts from demand in stores. “It is a different consumer online and for those who like the products in the store, they can go online to find more of our items. We have thousands of stockkeeping units online,” he said.
The majority of price points range from $1 to $3, but E.l.f. has been able to trade consumers up to its Studio line priced at $6.
However, Shamah said the moderate price points inspire more multiple sales. “If retailers ask, ‘Aren’t the lower prices driving dollars down,’ we can show that people buy more and build a bigger basket,” he said. Shamah said one retailer moves four times the pieces of E.l.f. than many other makeup brands producing inventory turns for the line that are at least twice the industry average.
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)
How does a “regular, degular, schmegular” girl from the Bronx, N.Y., become a Grammy-nominated artist with a certified platinum record in less than a year? Call it the @iamcardib come up. The 25-year-old has become a musical sensation, and the fashion world is taking note. “If I could describe her style I would say drama. She’s really into the dramatics,” says Cardi B’s stylist @kollincarter. See how Carter styles her bold and out there looks with the link in bio. #wwdfashion
“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