I was thinking about this during the launch of Signorina, the new fragrance by Salvatore Ferragamo a while back. You see, unbeknownst to me, Ferragamo actually has quite a few fragrances released already. But I never paid much attention to them. When I saw pictures of the bottles, I suddenly realised why. I didn’t see the Ferragamo brand reflected in the bottles.
However, Signorina, the new fragrance features that famous grosgrain ribbon bow on the bottle and suddenly, I saw in it, Ferragamo! Anyway, I’ll tell you about the fragrance another day. Today, I was just curious to see what you thought about fashion brands that branch into the cosmetics arena.
Do you expect more of a fashion brand that branches into cosmetics? Do you expect less? Or do you have no expectations at all?
If you have read Deluxe : How Luxury Lost Its Lustre, then you will understand why many luxury fashion brands have a cosmetics arm. It is a way to make luxury products more accessible to the public. Its hard to fork out RM12,000 for a Chanel Classic Flap bag. Its easier to hand over RM90 for a Chanel lipstick and aspire to the fashion. The consumer is happy to own a piece of luxury, the company is pleased to see their bottom line. Win-win!
Most fashion houses’ foray into cosmetics almost always inevitably start with a fragrance. Chanel, in particular has their immortal Chanel No. 5 set firmly as the cornerstone of their fragrance arsenal. Both Chanel and Diorhave had their fragrances and cosmetics arms for decades now, so in many ways, they have already become a part of many of us. Maybe we don’t even think of it as separate anymore. Gucci has had their fragrances for ages, and I read a while back there was supposed to be Gucci makeup coming, but there’s been no news yet.
Because they are coming on the scene now, when I am more aware and more particular and picky about my cosmetics, I suddenly have a higher personal standard for the quality in these luxury brands. If it is a luxury fashion brand setting up a cosmetics line, I expect more out of them. Their prices are almost always higher than the norm and I want something that is different, and better. Something that actually makes me feel like I should own it, instead of a similar item from their competitor that could be a pure cosmetic brand.
I’ll give you one example. Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill eyeshadows and L’Oreal Infallible eyeshadow are almost twins separated at birth. The price of 1 Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill shadow can buy you 2 or maybe 3 L’Oreal Infallible shadows. Yet, if I am pushed in a corner and forced to choose, I will choose the GA because the texture is better, it applies more beautifully on the skin, and the colours more complex and beautiful. That alone will justify its price to me.
Yet, if something falls a little short, I think to myself – well they are a fashion house, you can’t expect them to also be good at makeup or skincare! I’m a bit of a contradiction, I know
I do come down a bit harder on brands like Chanel and Dior that have been doing cosmetics for so many years. I expect that by now, they should have worked out the kinks and be delivering consistently good, high quality products. I may be more forgiving of newer brands like Burberry that have only been at it for about 2-3 years. A little more forgiving, but not by very much because they do charge a high price.
And then you have a brand like Calvin Klein. I remember when they had a makeup line. And then they discontinued it. And then brought it back. And discontinued it. And now its back again. Honestly, if it didn’t work the first time, I doubt it’ll work a few more times down the line. The market is just so saturated, you really have to be excellent (or dirt cheap) to make it!
Have you any thoughts on this? Do you have higher expectations of a fashion brand that opens up a cosmetics line? Or are you a bit more forgiving if they fall short? Would you buy a fashion brand’s cosmetics over the cosmetics from a brand that specializes in only making cosmetics? Take a look in your stash and see just how many products you have that may have its origins in a fashion brand