Versed

Who What Wear is launching a beauty brand.

Versed, a clean skin-care line with products priced at less than $20, is entering 1,400 Target doors on May 19. It is set to roll out to broader retail distribution, including Riley Rose, Revolve and Dermstore beginning in June.

Aimed at the fashion content and commerce company’s Millennial consumer base, Versed is the first brand developed under Offspring Beauty, an incubator partially funded by Who What Wear to develop the company’s beauty brands. More brands are expected to follow Versed, though the company would not specify under which categories they would fall, when they are expected to come to market and how big the portfolio will be.

Versed is meant to fill a white space for affordably priced, efficacious skin care formulated with clean ingredients, said Clique Brands cofounder and chief executive officer Katherine Power, who is also ceo of Offspring Beauty. Its 19 products were developed with a “formula-first philosophy,” meaning the bulk of spend was put toward ingredients and formulation, rather than custom packaging and paid marketing.

The assortment is divided into four categories that are meant to be mixed and matched, addressing specific skin issues such as acne, hydration, dullness and aging. There are three tiers of care — cleanse and seal, boost and treat — that include products such as Dew Point Moisturizing Gel Cream with green tea extract and aloe, $14.99; Stroke of Brilliance Brightening Serum with vitamin C and licorice root extract, $19.99, and Look Alive Hydrating Plumping Mask with rosehip seed oil, $9.99. Other items in the assortment include peels, a vitamin C powder, a body oil, firming serum, cleansing balm, eye cream and lip oil.

Product development was based on data gathered over a year and a half by Who What Wear, including reader surveys, community Facebook groups, as well as learnings from Byrdie, the company’s former beauty-focused site that it sold in January to Dotdash. From these findings, a need for a clean, solution-oriented skin-care line for an affordable price emerged, said Power.

“Clean beauty was becoming so important, but [our consumer] didn’t have anywhere to turn,” said Power. “A lot of the women we’re speaking to don’t have a Sephora in their town, or they don’t have the income to shop at a Bloomingdale’s beauty section. We felt there was a big opportunity in mass skin care.”

Versed is also an attempt to bring a comprehensive lineup of prestige-quality skin care to mass-market aisles, with tried-and-true active ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, retinol and vitamin C. Those ingredients do exist in the mass market today, but they are less commonly found — Neutrogena and L’Oréal both carry active-driven skin-care products, but mass-market aisles are known to be heavily populated with basic skin-care items that do not carry potent levels of ingredients.

“[We’ve developed] what [our consumer] wished existed — we wanted to understand the primary concerns that real people have with skin and build out an assortment you can mix and match,” said Melanie Bender, general manager of Versed. “When you’re shopping mass beauty aisles, it’s like one size fits all, but your needs are so much more nuanced than that.”

That same affordable, on-trend and crowd-sourced ethos is what drives Who What Wear’s other commerce brands. The company’s self-named affordable fashion line, launched in 2016, is sold exclusively in the U.S. with Target. Activewear label JoyLab, also sold at Target, made its debut in 2017. The fashion web site is said to generate more than $100 million in sales across its commerce network in the U.S., and Power has noted the business could at least double next year as the company begins to roll its brands out to European markets. Versed, which industry sources estimate could do around $20 million in sales in its first year, is part of this rollout strategy, and is set to expand internationally in several markets in 2020. Clique Media and Target Corp. declined to comment on financials.

For Target, the launch of Versed is coming at a time when the retailer is seeing growth in its beauty department from bringing on niche and exclusive brands. Versed is the first brand Who What Wear has developed that will not be exclusive to the retailer, but in a phone call with WWD, Christina Hennington, Target’s senior vice president, merchandising, essentials, beauty and wellness, was optimistic about the launch.

“We’ve had a lot of success through growing our portfolio through differentiated brands,” said Hennington. “We’ve been continuing to look for brands that meet our guests’ needs along clean positioning, credibility and affordability. [Who What Wear] has a track record of being able to leverage that digital consumer insight and translate it into product development, which makes them stay on trend and anticipate what’s coming next.”

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