NEW YORK — Bobbi Brown is back on the scene via a partnership with Lord & Taylor.
The former makeup mogul has been appointed creative consultant at the retailer to launch JustBobbi concept shops inside Lord & Taylor stores and on lordandtaylor.com. The shops, which opened Friday, sell wellness and beauty products, jeans, T-shirts, sneakers and accessories that reflect Brown’s aesthetic and lifestyle.
“The intent is to create a very cool curated space that allows people a new way to shop,” Brown told WWD. “I’ve been given a clean slate so this could be anything I want it to be. It’s a concept shop full of my lifestyle philosophy to try new things, to be comfortable and to be healthy. There’s a lot of health and wellness there, as well as my favorite jeans,” which happen to be an $89 pair from Karl Lagerfeld Paris.
“Creating new and different experiences and driving newness into the assortments with great fashion at really accessible price points is a primary objective for us,” said Liz Rodbell, the president of Lord & Taylor. “Bobbi is very involved in the shop concept and what products are included. It’s very much ‘through her lens’ and we have a collaborative team.”
There’s much to the mix, including T-shirt brands such as Good Hyouman and N: Philanthropy that support charitable causes, Apa Beauty teeth whitening kits, Elle Macpherson’s Super Elixir supplements, Dr. Frank Lipman supplements, a Dyson hair-dryer, Hu Chocolate, NuFace facial toning, Bkr glass water bottles, Adidas track suits and Stan Smith sneakers, Hudson Jeans, Joe’s Jeans, Theory jackets, Vince tops, Wacoal sports bras, Sperry socks, and Parker Thatch totes and handbags.
There are also Bobbi Brown sunglasses and readers, some of her beauty products and Brown’s new book, “Beauty From the Inside Out,” and her other books.
New products will flow in on a monthly basis.
“I would love it if my friend Mickey Drexler let me bring my favorite J. Crew pieces into Lord & Taylor,” Brown said, though J. Crew already wholesales to Nordstrom and has its own stores and web site.
For lordandtaylor.com, Brown will produce digital content weekly, and there will be monthly live-streams on Facebook Live starting April 21 with Brown and Rodbell introducing the JustBobbi concept. A party will be held on April 17 to celebrate the JustBobbi launch and Brown’s new book on the roof deck of the Lord & Taylor flagship on Fifth Avenue here, and there will be a string of media and consumer events subsequently, with Brown appearing at Lord & Taylor’s Garden City, N.Y., store on April 27 and the Stamford, Conn., store on May 11 to promote her book.
Lord & Taylor has Bobbi Brown beauty shops across its chain, and a smattering of Bobbi Brown cosmetics are displayed in the JustBobbi shops, though Rodbell stressed, “This will not feel repetitive. This is an extension of health and wellness, apparel and accessories. It’s really a holistic concept shop — not a beauty shop — with more of a sense of who Bobbi Brown is.”
The Lord & Taylor initiative marks Brown’s first partnership since her departure at the end of 2016 from Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, which she founded and which has long been owned by The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.
The initiative reflects efforts at Lord & Taylor, America’s oldest department store, to create some new shopping experiences, which it must do in light of waning traffic at department and specialty stores across the country as Internet sales grow and shopping habits change.
Retailers have been building up their in-house brands, working with designers and vendors on exclusive items and lines, and opening concession shops with products and categories not previously carried to widen the appeal. At Lord & Taylor, some novel shop concepts have been introduced in the last few years, including the Birdcage for exclusive or limited-distribution accessories, jewelry, cosmetics, home products, wearable tech and food; Brand Assembly for up-and-coming, advanced contemporary designers, and the Brideside shops-in-shop for bridesmaids. Earlier this month, Lord & Taylor reintroduced its “Dress Address” marketing handle in sync with the opening of the city’s largest dress floor at the flagship.
JustBobbi shops are at five Lord & Taylor locations — the Manhattan flagship, and in branch stores in Oak Brook, Ill., which is Brown’s hometown, and in Garden City and Westchester, N.Y., and Stamford, Conn.
Rodbell said the JustBobbi shops are in “very focal spots” on the main floors of the stores. At the Fifth Avenue flagship, JustBobbi occupies 800 square feet; the other shops are about 300 square feet in size.
Rodbell said the partnership with Brown could be broadened beyond JustBobbi shops. “There are [potentially] many projects. This will continue to evolve.” Terms of the partnership were not revealed.
The digital content, Rodbell, said, “will really be about her expressing her personality, her lifestyle, giving advice. The biggest message is about beauty, health and wellness. When you feel good, you look good. There are also some pieces that have a charitable approach. Philanthropy is important to Bobbi and to consumers.”
“It’s the perfect opportunity to share my insight, knowledge and passion with consumers and help revolutionize the way we experience beauty and wellness,” Brown said.
Brown exited her cosmetics firm last December when the brand was celebrating its 25th anniversary. The celebration was a milestone “that made me realize it was time to start a new chapter and move on to new ventures,” she said at the time.
A pioneer in makeup artistry and proponent of using makeup products to look natural, Brown has long displayed the entrepreneurial spirit, having now just come out with her ninth book and forming a new company, Beauty Evolution. In 2013, she launched an eponymous eyewear collection with Safilo USA, and has been blogging on anything that catches her eye.
“I am someone who is incredibly curious and incredibly visual. I get a lot of inspiration from Instagram. I literally walk around with my iPhone and send pictures.” She also attends beauty and health food shows and right now is helping her husband, Steven Plofker, renovate the George Inn, a 32-room boutique hotel about an hour from where she lives in Montclair, N.J.
“Right now, consumers are so interested in health and wellness as part of the new world whether it’s yoga or fitness or vitamins. I find it all fascinating.”
Brown was interviewed Friday from Baker’s Bay in the Bahamas, where she was celebrating her 60th birthday with family and friends. “I feel like a 25-year-old kid. I’ve never been more excited and energetic….Really, a lot of people think of me as the beauty expert. I am so much more than that and always have been.”
With JustBobbi, “I get to bring everything together and give customers a 360-degree perspective on how to really have a wonderful life. I get to bring brands together, and explore new ones that I love and that other people might not know about. It’s all different price points. I have always been a ‘high-low’ person. I can spend a ridiculous amount of money on sneakers or a belt, and $20 on something else.”
While acknowledging department stores generally aren’t great innovators, Brown said Lord & Taylor is “so open to anything….It’s fun for me to be with like-minded people not afraid to try new things. Everyone is in reinvention mode.”
With JustBobbi, “Hopefully, it’s a new way for consumers to see products through someone’s eyes. To walk through a normal department store is sometimes overwhelming, but to see it in boutique fashion is really neat.”
It’s crossed her mind to create freestanding JustBobbi shops, outside Lord & Taylor, though that’s apparently not on the agenda. “It’s not something I could or want to do by myself. Right now I am beyond excited about Lord & Taylor. I am very loyal and I love a partnership.
“I don’t want to be a retailer.”