The fashion designer teamed with NYX Cosmetics founder Toni Ko and her new incubator Bespoke Brand Brands on Jason Wu Beauty, described as a collection of everyday makeup essentials. The line will bow on Jan. 17 at 400 Target doors, target.com and jasonwubeauty.com.
Jason Wu Beauty consists of 25 products for eyes, lips, cheeks and brows, priced from $10 to $25 and formulated to meet the Target Clean standards. They are also cruelty-free. Neither Wu nor Ko would comment on financial details, but industry sources estimate the line could do $8 million to $10 million in sales in its first year.
Wu and Ko met at a mutual friend’s dinner party. Ko, who in 2014 sold NYX to L’Oréal, was on the hunt for a fashion designer who she could partner with on a cosmetics line à la Marc Jacobs Beauty or Tom Ford Beauty, but for the mass market. “The market could definitely use a high-end luxury fashion designer to do an amazing, beautiful cosmetics brand to bring that luxury feel to the aisles of your everyday chain stores,” said Ko.
Wu has always been interested in beauty—and was intrigued when at the end of the night, he received a business proposal from Ko.
“Feminine beauty has always been part of the Jason Wu DNA,” he said. “At [New York] fashion week, people don’t go very beauty-centric and we always give it a makeup look. I’m personally very interested in cosmetics.”
It’s no secret that mass-market beauty sales, particularly in the makeup category, have been lackluster for several years, thanks in large part to waning consumer interest in legacy brands such as Cover Girl and Revlon. Even NYX, which was considered a powerhouse at the time of its sale, has faced declines. “The walls in these [mass] beauty sections are just [all the same] black and white packaging — these brands become corporate and they stop innovating,” said Ko.
Wu is not afraid of mass-market retail. He has sold clothing at Target before—his limited-edition collection for the Minneapolis-based, big-box chain is said to have sold out within three hours after its launch in 2011.
“I’ve done a lot of different price points over the last 10 years of my career, and a lot of outside fashion in the lifestyle sector—I’m not afraid to experiment with what’s not been done before,” said Wu. “It’s important to be innovative and be the first. When it comes to beauty, in order for us to compete in a very saturated market—prestige just didn’t seem right. [Plus] there’s so many younger customers who [are fans of the brands] but can’t buy Jason Wu clothes.”
Jason Wu Beauty’s price points are certainly affordable. The products are mostly multipurpose and designed to achieve a natural look—a truly natural look with just a few key products.
The hero product for both Wu and Ko is the Hot Fluff “fluffy” matte lipstick; $12. It comes in various shades of nudes and was formulated and designed to be used on the lips, cheeks or lids.
“We’ve been seeing a lot of heavy makeup in the last few years as a trend,” said Wu. “The Jason Wu brand has really embraced the more natural side of beauty—the product looks good on every skin tone and is letting that natural beauty shine through versus covering it up. We really feel like that’s the next big thing, not an overly contoured look.”
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