NEW YORK — Too Faced Cosmetics has stepped into couture.

To create the five-and-a-half-year-old indie brand’s latest addition, Too Faced Couture, the company decided to “bridge up and give [customers] that very luxurious, exclusive product,” said Jerrod Blandino, co-founder and chief executive officer of Too Faced Cosmetics. The target customer for the line is “the cooler-than-cool girls who are setting the trends.” The collection will debut in January.

So why couture cosmetics? “Because middle America is going for full-on luxury — stuff that was previously only accessible to the very wealthy,” said Blandino.

The lineup consists of Eye Shadow Luxe, pure-pigmented shadows, available in five shades for $19 each; Lip Gloss Luxe, with four shades retailing for $18 each, and Whipped Lip Luxe, in five shades for $20 each. The products were formulated with total luxury in mind and boast ingredients such as champagne, truffles, caviar and lotus flower. The first item in the line, a brush set for $48.50 that contains five brushes and comes in a pink satin pouch with leopard trim, was introduced in July.

Blandino noted he is “not going to use this as just another marketing tool to make money” and will limit launches to three products a year — at most. As far as pricing, he explained that the Couture collection items are “a little more expensive because they’ve really got to be worked on longer and in small batches.” The line’s “very girly” packaging was designed to look like a French pastry —Blandino wanted it to “feel like a total indulgence.” The outer packaging is made of faux pink crocodile.

The line, expected to represent 4 percent of the brand’s business, will be available in about 200 of the company’s 850 doors, including stores such as Sephora and Nordstrom in malls with — for example — Gucci, Versace or Chanel boutiques, to preserve the exclusivity factor, said Blandino.

Industry sources estimate Too Faced had retail sales of $2.2 million in 2002 and are projecting that to increase to $12 million for 2003.

“Over the past 12 to 15 months we’ve seen tremendous growth,” noted Andrew Knox, vice president of sales for Too Faced. Knox attributed this to the brand’s increased sales support. “We have phenomenal people in the field to drive the business and have opened up quite a few new doors,” noted Knox. He added that Too Faced has seen a 29 percent increase in its comparative door business at Sephora and triple-digit increases at Nordstrom.Too Faced’s packaging and fixturing have also been given facelifts. “We revamped the fixturing and made it more approachable with consumers of all ages,” said Knox. The once hot-pink fixtures have been changed to boast a “softer” pink as well as cream and black, in an effort to make the fixtures and product more approachable.

In addition, the brand launched its first fragrance, Love Hangover, in August, as well as launching its Celebrity Spa bath and body line to youth-oriented apparel retailer Gadzooks that same month; it has has now shipped to full distribution. The Too Faced core collection currently consists of 130 stockkeeping units and Knox is expecting that count to increase to 150 sku’s by spring. The brand is currently available in 850 doors in the U.S., up from approximately 320 doors last year. Internationally, the brand is available in 80 doors in the U.K., such as Sephora and Boots, and the company is planning to begin distributing in Korea by yearend.

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