Kat Von D wants to determine her own schedule.
As fashion increasingly adopts a see-now-buy-now approach to the runway, the tattoo artist and namesake makeup brand founder is advocating for more fluidity in the beauty launch cadence, and she’s setting the example by making select lip products available online monthly before they enter stores.
Kat Von D Beauty’s so-called Everlasting Flash program will premiere the merchandise at sephora.com on the first Wednesday of every month at noon EST and is starting Jan. 4 with Sanctuary, a nude shade addition to the Everlasting Liquid Lip Collection that will be one of six new nude shades hitting retail in February. The sneak-peek or flash events run 48 hours or until supplies, which range from 5,000 to 10,000 units, last within 48-hour periods.
“When you look at fashion, beauty and all this stuff, there are kind of these forced seasons. Companies feel pressure to focus on these launches because the world and our schedule has evolved into that,” said Von D. “But I rather constantly create hero products. I don’t think we strategically need to sell things only attached to the holidays or anything. We created a system that I think will be a lot of fun, not just for stores, but for the client.”
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Kat Von D Beauty has been working with Sephora since August on the flash initiative and has already mapped out the products that will get the sneak-peek treatment throughout the year. The brand is concentrating on a proven performer for the program with the Everlasting Liquid Lip Collection, a bestselling franchise. Kat Von D Beauty is owned by Kendo, a division of LVMH Moët Hennesy Louis Vuitton, also owner of Sephora.
“This is about great minds coming together, and it’s at the forefront of what’s next,” declared Kelly Coller, head of global marketing for Kat Von D Beauty. Elaborating about the products that will be featured in the flash program, she said, “Each month is decidedly different whether it is a single [item] or multiples. The shades are wildly different.” Von D hinted that shades tied to her brand’s upcoming 10th anniversary collection, and its Saint and Sinner fragrance reintroductions could participate. The flash program spotlights liquid lipsticks and extends outside of them in the lip category. It will be held in Canada at sephora.ca as well as the U.S.
In a beauty business driven by newness, the flash program gives Kat Von D Beauty at least two cracks at stoking demand for new products: connected to flash events and weeks later when they break into stores. Unlike apparel flash sales that were associated with the recession and centered upon excess inventory at discounted prices, the brand’s flash program involves full-price items. The existing 29 liquid lipsticks shades in the Everlasting Liquid Lip Collection are $20, and so is the Sanctuary shade.
“It’s not the flash sale like what it was when it was first created. It’s actually the opposite,” explained Coller. “This is an entirely new way to shop. It is about giving our beauty fans what they want when they want it without sacrificing integrity.”
Although beauty brands largely sold digitally such as Kylie Cosmetics and Colourpop have embraced a drop philosophy releasing products on their own terms to eager fans, brands relying on brick-and-mortar locations have had a harder time straying from standard launch cycles. Kat Von D Beauty’s strong ties to Sephora and the specialty retailer’s e-commerce site, and its avid digitally savvy audience makes it able to pursue its own calendar in ways many of its competitors can’t. The brand boasts 2.7 million followers on Instagram and Von D has personally accumulated 5.4 million followers on the platform, where she recently previewed 25 future liquid lipstick shades.
“Before we used to create these shade extensions and wait to launch them all at once and, I thought, ‘Why not be able to trickle in newness in a larger way?’” said Von D. “It goes against what a lot of companies do, but I’m a fan. I’m the client. As I’m developing these products, I get super excited. My team has to convince me to hold back on announcing them too early. I’m the beauty junkie, and if I feel like this, I feel the rest of the beauty junkies out there are feeling the same way.”
Sanctuary could sell out within minutes to mark the debut of Kat Von D Beauty’s Everlasting Flash program. “I wouldn’t be surprised if select shades start selling out quickly. It’s happened before and that’s my prediction. I could be totally wrong,” speculated Von D. “I guess that’s the only downfall. It feels really weird to complain about, ‘Oh my gosh, our brand is so popular, it’s hard to keep up.’” She has another prediction about her brand’s flash sale program, too. Von D prognosticated, “I wouldn’t be surprised if other brands started coming on board and doing the same thing.”