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Fashion Fair is aiming for a comeback. The nearly 40-year-old makeup company — whose heritage was built by catering to the color cosmetics needs of African-American women — is recalibrating with plans to reemerge as an industry leader in the ethnic beauty market.
This story first appeared in the August 10, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Its newest offering, True Finish Refining Mineral Foundation, is said to be the brand’s “biggest launch in 20 years” and reflects its updated positioning. It hits counters this month.
“We heard from our users and people who may have walked away from the brand that they were rooting for it to come alive again,” said Clarisa Wilson, president of Fashion Fair, who noted that since 2008 the brand has been updating its look (the line is now housed in “chocolate metallic” packaging), revamping its positioning and reevaluating its merchandising and in-store services to reengage consumers. “Foundation is inherent in our brand and legacy and we [are focused on] making sure we stay relevant and continue to grow.”
True Finish, which is Fashion Fair’s first liquid mineral foundation to date and took four years to complete, is inspired by the union of beauty, mind and spirit. At the core of the new formula — which is available in 18 shades — is the promise of lightweight coverage suitable for a broad range of ethnic skin tones.
“Mineral is not new to beauty category, but when you are black, minerals have a tendency to be ashy or dull on the skin after a couple hours of wear,” said Wilson. “We looked at minerals that illuminate and enhance darker complexions.”
The foundations — which are fragrance, paraben and oil free — feature a proprietary technology said to protect and hydrate skin with the help of malachite, an antioxidant-rich semiprecious mineral.
“We didn’t have the right formula [in our portfolio] for someone looking for sheer coverage,” said Desirée Rogers, chief executive officer of the Johnson Publishing Co., which owns Fashion Fair, Ebony and Jet magazines, who added that True Match is also buildable. “It covers a larger spectrum because it is very forgiving. One shade can cover three tones.” According to Rogers, shade names like Honest Chocolate, Chic Cinnamon, Peaceful Pecan, Virtuous Truffle and Tenacious Topaz are intended to offer women a sense of playfulness.
The launch will be supported by a national print and digital advertising campaign featuring the bald and beautiful Amanda Nassali Kiggundu, who Rogers discovered working in a Starbucks in Los Angeles. For Rogers, Kiggundu, who is of Ugandan heritage, is perfect face to reflect the brand’s evolution.
“Amanda is a real person who represents the whole idea of the individual and the fact that everyone is beautiful,” said Rogers.
The ad campaign is scheduled to roll out in September magazines and can be found in Chicago area bus shelters as well as on Times Square’s storied Jumbotron.
According to Wilson and Rogers, the firm has been focused on not only reengaging the former Fashion Fair shopper but also introducing the brand to a new audience.
“We see grandmothers bringing their daughters who are bringing their daughters,” said Rogers. “We have a heritage long enough that there are three generations coming to the counter.”
Looking ahead, Rogers said Fashion Fair is poised to increase its international presence and social media engagement. Rogers also has plans to revamp Fashion Fair’s in-store merchandising units to reflect the “updated look and feel of the products.”
“We have to get right what we have and realize we have a lot of work to do on our existing locations,” said Rogers. “We have to make certain our clients are taken care of [before we activate] our strategic international strategy.”
True Finish — which industry sources believe could generate $10 million in its first year at retail — will be available at select stores including Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, Bon-Ton, Belk and Dillard’s and on fashionfair.com for a $28 suggested retail price.