NEW YORK — Come this fall, Kohl’s will be flirting with a second new color line.

Flirt, the second brand to be launched by BeautyBank for distribution in Kohl’s Department Stores, hits the retailer’s doors in October. BeautyBank, the division of the Estée Lauder Cos. that is developing Flirt and its sister brand, American Beauty, also will launch a third beauty line in Kohl’s doors this fall; details have not yet been announced regarding the third brand.

Flirt will launch with 271 color cosmetics stockkeeping units, including more than 100 lip colors. Eye shadows, blushes, powders and mascaras — as well as brushes and bags — round out the lineup. For the most part, price tags range between $10 and $12, slightly less than most entry-level department store brands. But in a high-end twist, each item has an outer carton that is color-matched to the shade inside — something that BeautyBank’s senior vice president and general manager, Jane Hudis, admits can be expensive. But, she said, “We’ve found a cost-effective way to do it, because we felt that it was a key part of the brand. It makes the line mistakeproof.”

“Flirt is all about having fun with color — we wanted to make cosmetics fun again, in a sophisticated way,” added Jane Lauder, vice president of marketing for BeautyBank. “It’s about experimentation, and about what’s fresh and new — and it’s about pop culture.”

Speaking of pop culture, Flirt has a quirky twist to the burgeoning celebrities-in-beauty movement: Each season, a guest creator will be named for the brand in order to create buzz. Each person chosen for the role will devise a seasonal grouping of products that will be showcased at counter. As reported, the first guest creator for Flirt will be songstress Michelle Branch, who headlined Flirt’s recent launch party at Meatpacking District space Cielo. Future guest creators will be chosen from the realm of pop culture and trends, and will likely include additional musicians as well as actresses.

“It will be about creating a concept, not a color story,” said Hudis, noting that Branch’s collection includes nail polish, a category that is not currently a permanent one for the brand.

This story first appeared in the July 23, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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Dan Brestle, the group president at the Estée Lauder Cos. who oversees BeautyBank, noted that while Flirt will likely have broad appeal, its key consumer is likely to be a thirtysomething woman who is comfortable experimenting with color.

And the color collections’ sassy names are intended to capitalize on that adventurous attitude — for instance, lipstick collections are dubbed Chickstick, High Wattage and Plushious, while the lip gloss lineup is Squeeze Me and the lip pencil collection is Draw Attention.

“We believe that consumers will recognize the value that this brand offers,” said Kevin Mansell, president of Kohl’s. “Flirt offers a fun approach to color, and it creates another spot in our Beauty Boutique that is unique and different.”

Mansell is also a fan of the brand’s guest creator concept: “The guest creators will introduce constant newness and excitement to the brand,” he said.

Mansell noted that Kohl’s will work closely with BeautyBank executives to keep products in stock, utilizing Lauder’s vendor-managed inventory system. Keeping makeup displays fully stocked “can be a complicated business — and one of the many reasons that we’re partnering with Lauder is their experience in this regard,” said Mansell, noting that the high number of sku’s in the Flirt lineup will make constant replenishment of stock critical.

The colors will be sold from chest-high, open gondolas with samples of the colors in tester units, and the sku’s themselves will be right below, explained Brestle. The testers also will prominently feature each season’s guest creator’s line, Brestle added. “Kohl’s is very conscious of how things are presented, and they don’t want customers to have to search high and low to find something,” said Brestle. “The whole presentation is intended to make things easy for the consumer to find what she’s looking for.”

In prior interviews concerning the brands, Mansell has spoken of the decision to recruit the Estée Lauder Cos. for this project: “[We looked for] an industry leader with the ability to create brands and imagery,” he said in an interview concerning the first of the three brands, American Beauty. As well, he noted, Kohl’s top 50 vendors generate 60 percent of the chain’s business, making a partnership with a beauty powerhouse such as Lauder a natural decision.

While none of the executives would comment on projected sales, industry sources estimated that Flirt will do upward of $40 million at retail in its first year on counter. While no national advertising is planned, Kohl’s will promote the brand through its mailers and newspaper inserts, among other vehicles.

As reported, the three brands — as well as any future ones — will be marketed in 600- to 1,000-square-foot assisted self-serve departments bearing the Kohl’s Beauty Boutique banner, staffed by at least one full-time and four to five part-time employees.

These departments will be constructed in about half of Kohl’s 589-and-counting stores this fall — so the brands will be available in 288 Kohl’s stores this October. They will roll out to the remainder, as construction continues, over the next year. The brands also will be available via kohls.com and on Web sites for each brand created by Lauder.

Eventually, Flirt likely will be released internationally, Hudis said. “The BeautyBank brands have all been designed that way,” she said, although she added that such distribution will not take place before fall 2005 at the earliest.

— Julie Naughton