Kat Von D’s attack on Jeffree Star may have hurt his feelings, but it doesn’t appear to have hurt his namesake brand’s sales.
At Morphe Brushes, a destination for Jeffree Star products, a source reported, “We haven’t noticed anything in regards to the feud.” After releasing Jeffree Star’s summer collection Thursday, e-tailer Beautylish experienced brisk sales of the beauty brand’s five new Velour Liquid Lipstick shades. On its web site, more than half of the nearly 40 Jeffree Star offerings are sold out.
“This is the strongest launch we have ever seen. It’s blowing up,” said Nils Johnson, chief executive officer and chief merchant at Beautylish, which has carried Jeffree Star for about nine months. “Jeffree’s popularity is skyrocketing. The interest in his brand has never been at a higher level.”
Kat Von D, the tattoo artist and force behind an eponymous makeup brand in Sephora’s Kendo portfolio, lashed out at Star earlier this week with an Instagram post accusing him of racism, bullying and promoting drug use, and subsequent YouTube video in which she claimed Star refused to pay graphic designer B.J. Betts for work on the Jeffree Star logo. Star refuted the charges leveled against him in a YouTube video of his own, and Betts took to Twitter to state he’s “amicably resolved” the matter with Star.
Jeffree Star is circulated in limited distribution on the brand’s web site, Beautylish, Morphe Brushes and Mexican outlet Nuestro Secreto, and seems to be growing at those retailers, a trajectory that apparently hasn’t been slowed or reversed by the Kat Von D drama. Top shades, particularly the Velour Liquid Lipstick shade Androgyny, are scooped up promptly. On Morphe Brushes’ site, only two Jeffree Star items out of 32 remain available.
“He can’t keep the products in stock. They sell out instantly,” said Johnson on Thursday. “We sold out of the best-selling shades this morning in minutes. He can’t make the products fast enough. If everybody hated him, they wouldn’t be selling like that.”
The effect of Kat Von D’s takedown of Star on her beauty brand is less certain as Sephora has declined to comment on the affair. What is certain is that it’s generated a whirlwind of publicity. Both Kat Von D’s video criticizing Star and Star’s response video garnered more than three million views on YouTube, and their row has been covered by the likes of Glamour, New York Magazine, Refinery29, PopSugar, Teen Vogue and Yahoo Beauty.
Even if Kat Von D’s brand is weathering the storm now, the very public scolding of Star could pose long-term problems for its business. Talking generally about social media-fueled controversies, Terry Fahn, a senior executive at strategic communications and crisis management firm Sitrick and Co., said, “A lot of times people go into a media event or spectacle without thinking it through. It’s media for media’s sake. If it gets too over-the-top, it can turn people off and hurt a brand. The media attention can fizzle out quickly, and it can leave a bad taste in people’s mouths.”