Byline: Alev Aktar

NEW YORK — After a 14-year modeling career, Somalian strutter Iman knows a thing or two about glamour. Now she’s bringing that inside knowledge to the prestige cosmetics market, where she will launch what she describes as a couture makeup line, with plenty of shades for women of color.
“This is whimsical, urban, city-girl makeup,” said the spectacular Iman, who has an expansive personality and a booming voice to match. “Once a fashion girl, always a fashion girl.”
The line, called I-Iman Makeup, will be introduced in eight Sephora doors in May, including the Rockefeller Center and Times Square stores in New York.
As reported, the new line is completely separate from Iman’s first venture, a signature cosmetics line that’s licensed to Color Me Beautiful and sold in the mass market. Iman founded a new company, Impala, along with two silent investors, and developed the upscale collection herself.
Impala is targeting first-year sales of $1 million at retail, and a volume of $3 million to $5 million over the next three years.
The two lines differ in several respects. First, the new entry is positioned as couture, while the first collection was pitched as ready-to-wear makeup. Second, the new line is targeted to all women — although there are many shades for ethnic skins — whereas the original range is just for women of color. Third, I-Iman will be sold in prestige distribution in cities, while the first collection is a mass market entry sold at J.C. Penney in suburban areas.
“I-Iman doesn’t cannibalize the line that exists,” said Iman, who was immaculately dressed in tailored gray flannel pants and a gray turtleneck, her hair smoothed into a copper-colored high ponytail. “They will only enhance each other. There is nothing this one has that the other one has.
“There’s no confusion between CK and Calvin Klein,” she pointed out, by way of explanation.
In the U.S., ethnic cosmetics sales are much larger in the mass market than in prestige. Mass volume for the category totaled about $160 million at retail in 1999, according to Packaged Facts, a New York market research firm. As for the prestige market, industry consultant Allan Mottus estimates that cosmetics lines for women of color bring in some $60 million.
“Because of the expanding ethnicity, mainstream brands have increased their color palettes to bring in not only African-American but also Hispanic and Asian women,” said Mottus. “From Lancome to MAC to Lauder, they’ve broadened their franchises so that everyone is encompassed.”
Meanwhile, the mass market Iman line generated a retail volume of $22 million in 1999, according to industry sources. It is currently sold in the U.K., France, Japan, Spain, Portugal and Germany. In 2000, the products will roll out to Brazil, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia and Australia.
The new line will be in about 20 Sephora doors by the end of the year and department and specialty stores sometime next year. Distribution is scheduled only for the U.S. at this point, said Iman.
I-Iman will consist of about 133 stockkeeping units and 16 products, including basics like foundation, blush, eyeshadow, lipstick and mascara, as well as funky items such as an eyebrow stencil.
There is a special emphasis on vivid colors, and the eyeshadow palettes feature nine shades apiece. The colors can be viewed through transparent portholes in the compacts. As for foundation, there are 18 shades of stick foundation offered and 16 shades of liquid.
“The Achilles’ heel for women is finding a foundation,” said Iman. “I used to mix two together — now I have one from my line. These foundations and powders are very well formulated.”
Prices will range from $30 for the stick foundation to $14 for pencils. There will be two seasonal color statements introduced every year.
The line will be promoted with sampling in stores and public relations efforts.
Iman, who is expecting a baby with husband David Bowie in late summer, is working overtime pushing her new products. She has already handpicked colors and sent them to her friends in the hip-hop community. What did they think?
“They said it was the bomb!” she roared.

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