Hairstylist Frédéric Fekkai helped to create the luxury hair-care category. Now, he unapologetically aims to bring it to the mass market.
This story first appeared in the November 8, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Early next year, the Procter & Gamble Co.-owned brand plans to relaunch a revamped and edited collection to both mass and prestige retailers. The launch marks a change in strategy for the brand, which nearly four years ago opted to distribute two different lines, namely “classic” to the mass market and “advanced” to the luxury tier.
The two lines created confusion for customers, and logistical problems for the company, acknowledged JP Kuehlwein, executive vice president of Fekkai.
One universal collection will eradicate those issues, and put Fekkai in front of a wider audience, he added.
“This has been the subject of great debate,” said Fekkai, referring the most suitable distribution strategy for a prestige brand. “The truth of the matter is that Fekkai is a luxury brand because of what we project. You’ll see it in our salon, where we have a sophisticated client. The luxury experience of the salon is carried into the products,” he added. “We’ve been too selective for too long. Just because it’s in mass it doesn’t have to be a different formula, package or experience. We know this customer is eager to have the Fekkai experience.”
The collection will include Brilliant Glossing, Technician Color Care, Full Blown Volume, Essential Shea, PrX Reparatives, Fekkai Styling and the return of Apple Cider Shampoo, which had been discontinued in 2012. It also will introduce several items, such as PrX Reparatives Mending Elixir with argan extract and Full Blown Volume Lightweight Foam Conditioner, a silicon-free formula for fine hair. Gone from the lineup are Perfectly Luscious Curls, Ageless and Silky Straight Ironless.
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As for what type of retail outpost the line will target, Kuehlwein said, “We are going wherever the customer is pulling us.” He acknowledged that the distribution strategy may be uncomfortable for some of the brand’s luxury retail partners. The brand has dealt with fallout before. In 2010, Fekkai was immediately dropped from Sephora when it began entering drugstores with its “classics” range.
This time around, the brand plans to maintain distribution with its prestige partners, including Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor and Ulta. It will remain in 1,800 Target stores, but expand its product assortment in those doors. It also is sold in certain drugstores, such as Duane Reade.
Fekkai has lowered its pricing, too. For instance, base products will carry a suggested retail price of $19.99, compared with its current one of $22.
It will support the launch with print ads and a digital and social media campaign designed to play off the effortless allure of French chic, or “je ne sais coiffe” as Fekkai calls it. The tag line “Let Luxury Go to Your Head” will be visible across all digital platforms. A redesigned fekkai.com will launch on Dec. 16, with the relaunch of the collection. The products will then roll out more broadly in January to retailers in the U.S. and Canada. The brand is also keeping one eye trained abroad, where it shuttered much of its distribution nearly one year ago, and hopes to regain ground there down the line.
Print ads will feature models Gabby Dover and Paulina Heiler, with hairstyles showcasing the hairstylist’s signature aesthetic. Speaking about his approach to hair, Fekkai said, “I want to make sure it’s alive. It’s about hair that is done but undone.”