From its inception, Shiseido has been a trailblazer, fusing the best of East and West. Arinobu Fukuhara founded the company in 1872 at age 24, with the goal of creating a modern, Western-style pharmacy in Tokyo. His son, Shinzo, continued the tradition, studying pharmacology at Columbia University in 1908, while continuing his passion for photography and traveling widely in the U.S. and Europe.
When he returned to Japan in 1916, he created the Shiseido Cosmetics Division, inspired by the manufacturers he studied while in New York and the painters he met in Paris. The melding of art and science continues to inform every aspect of the company today, the oldest continuously operating cosmetics firm in the world.
It’s also one of the most modern. At a time when consumers are prioritizing self-care, Shiseido has long taken a holistic approach to beauty. Its advancements in scientific research have garnered more awards than any other beauty company.
At the same time, Shiseido is a quintessential Japanese company, never losing sights of core values like omotenashi (the art of hospitality), takumi (craftsmanship), iki (chicness) and ma, a quintessentially Japanese concept which means communicating without having to speak too loudly.
As the company celebrates its 150th anniversary, we at WWD Beauty Inc took the opportunity to assess the broad impact that Shiseido has had on beauty and analyze the key drivers of its future growth. What emerges is a picture of a company that is leveraging its rich heritage to reimagine every aspect of its business and reinforce its position as one of the world’s most cutting-edge cosmetics companies. — Jenny B. Fine