L’Oréal Teams With Michelle Phan for Color Cosmetics

The luxe division of L’Oréal USA has teamed with the online makeup expert to launch a complete line designed to live in cyberspace.

In a major departure with implications for the future, the Luxe division of L’Oréal USA has teamed with online makeup expert Michelle Phan and launched a complete color cosmetics brand designed to live in cyberspace.

This story first appeared in the August 16, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The more-than-250-stockkeeping-unit color-cosmetics collection is housed on a Web site, including 70 tutorials. The site went live Thursday. The brand is named EM, or “sister” in Vietnamese.

The power of the concept is generated by the fan base that Phan has attracted during the last six years on YouTube. Carol Hamilton, president of L’Oréal USA’s Luxe division, said, “What we believe very strongly is that this is a new business model. We think it’s a huge opportunity to understand the power of building up a whole line online.”

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Hamilton said, “We describe it as an incubator brand.” She pointed out that EM is the first of the company’s brands that was “truly created from scratch for L’Oréal” without being a part of an acquisition or as a subbrand.

In addition to the online presence, which will go global in January, L’Oréal will open a 1,500-square-foot EM store on New York’s Mulberry Street in October as a place where Phan can interact with customers. The average price point is $23. Although L’Oréal does not break out figures, industry sources estimate that the new EM brand could do $10 million in sales during the first year in operation.