The Man's face range.

NEW YORK — Growth of the men's grooming category in recent years has allowed upstart brands to carve out specialized niches within the marketplace.<BR><BR>At least three such players, namely The Man, Metro Skin Care and Male Face Skin Care, are...

NEW YORK — Growth of the men’s grooming category in recent years has allowed upstart brands to carve out specialized niches within the marketplace.

At least three such players, namely The Man, Metro Skin Care and Male Face Skin Care, are striving to gain toeholds in venues as diverse as specialty boutiques, natural food stores, barbershops and upscale salons and spas that cater to men.

The Man Grooming Products for Men was unveiled in January. Somewhat fittingly, the firm’s 18-year-old creative director and vice president of sales, Patrick Finan, is on the young side of the male audience that is largely driving growth trends in the men’s grooming category today. Finan — “the man behind The Man,” as he puts it — launched the 12-item collection along with his mother and founder and chief executive Cathleen Finan, who owns a Buffalo, N.Y.-based gift boutique called Cosefini.

Inspiration for The Man came from a perceived dearth of naturally oriented men’s grooming products on the market, according to Patrick Finan. “There isn’t a strong presence in the market of products that are completely natural and just for men,” Finan contended.

The Man assortment features The Face range, which includes face scrub, moisturizer, toner and cleanser; The Hair collection, which features hair gel, shave lotion, shave cream and a shampoo-conditioner, and The Body line, which comprises body scrub, lotion, bar soap and a wash. The collection ranges in price from $14 for the 8-oz. Repairing and Conditioning Shampoo and Your Best Body Wash to $25 for the 8-oz. Because You Care Body Scrub and For the Face Scrub. Featured ingredients include jojoba, aloe vera, shea butter, olive oil and vitamins C and E.

The brand could generate $250,000 in retail sales volume during its first year on the market. The Man is carried in independent boutiques such as Palmetto in Los Angeles and Terra Cotta in Savannah, Ga. Finan said he is looking to strike a deal with a larger, chain store operator — along the lines of a Whole Foods, Wild Oats or Trader Joe’s.

Meanwhile, John Spencer Ellis, whose background is in health and fitness, formed Metro Male Inc. in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., and subsequently launched a four-item men’s grooming range, called Metro Skin Care, in December. He has also launched Metro Vitamins to complement topical products whose ingredients are absorbed transdermally.

This story first appeared in the May 20, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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“Men finally understand that they can work out and go to the gym and get a good haircut and an Armani suit — and yet if they don’t take care of their skin, they won’t look as good as someone who has,” said Spencer Ellis.

Spencer Ellis, who also runs fitness education, women’s adventure boot camp and fitness resort businesses, was inspired to do a men’s grooming line after appearing along with “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest in a celebrity bachelor auction. Calling Seacrest the country’s “biggest metrosexual,” Spencer Ellis wanted to start a Web site about “everything metrosexual.” He opted instead to do a men’s product line.

“Our intentions are to do $1 million in the U.S. in the first year,” said Spencer Ellis.

Metro Skin Care includes Daily Essential Cleanser, $28 for 6 oz.; Daily Essential Moisturizer, $28 for 2.5 oz.; Metro Clean Shave Gel, $16 for 4 oz., and Anti-Aging Eye Cream, $38 for 0.5 oz.. The range is carried in about 15 to 20 doors, including a store called Metro — no relation to the skin care brand — in Tustin, Calif. It’s also carried at Menessentials.com. And Spencer Ellis is working on a deal to get the brand into three Las Vegas doors. He hopes to have the brand in 200 U.S. doors and 30 to 40 international doors by yearend.

Beverly Hills-based Male Face Skin Care, which was originally launched in 2000 as a three-step, cleansing, shaving and moisturizing kit, today features nine products and will launch a 10th, a shave gel, in the fourth quarter. The line includes face scrub, shave cream, moisture cream, moisture cream with SPF 15, a combination shampoo-conditioner, vitamin C face and body wash, eye gel, razor bump remedy and SPF 15 lip balm. The assortment ranges in price from $9.95 for a two-pack of the Sunscreen Lip Balm to $29 for the 4-oz., Rejuvenating Moisture Cream with SPF 15.

Revenues of Male Face are expected to be between $1 million and $2 million this year. The brand could reach between 500 and 750 doors by yearend.

“Nivea, Gillette, Neutrogena — all the indie men’s grooming brands owe those companies a huge debt of gratitude because by spending millions and millions in advertising, they’re making it okay for guys over 35 and 40 years old not to feel weird about using men’s skin care products,” said Ray Raglin, founder of Male Face.

He continued, “It’s [already] become a cool thing for young guys.” At least one guy, Patrick Finan — the man behind The Man — would no doubt agree.

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