Following the sale of Clique Brands-owned beauty publication Byrdie in January, its sister fashion site Who What Wear is stepping in with its first beauty event.
Who What Wear and Clique Brands rely on a hybrid content-commerce model to publish editorial stories with affiliate links to drive revenue, and the former has also expanded into its own clothing line with Target. The new beauty event, called The Lineup, will be held in Los Angeles from Dec. 12 to 15. Who What Wear editors were tasked with deciding which brands would be included in the event, which is free and open to the public. Versed, the skin-care brand incubated by Clique Brands will also be included. Attendees can shop products through a Pinterest page during or after the event. According to Who What Wear’s media kit, the median household income of its readers is $145,000 a year. Byrdie had previously hosted its own beauty events, but Clique Brands is now expecting Who What Wear will be able to fill the void.
Although Who What Wear’s branding relies on making fashion accessible to all women, many of the 70 beauty brands featured are in the luxury category, such as Chanel, Dior and Vintner’s Daughter. For brands, it is an unpaid opportunity, with the exception of Dyson. Dyson is offering activations such as a hairstyling station and photo moments. It will also have custom content on Who What Wear’s website with local micro-influencers posting about the brand on social media. Dyson did not respond to comment, and Who What Wear declined to state the cost of the sponsorship.
“Fashion has always been our focus, and it will continue to be, but we know our audience wants beauty content, as well. We see that playing into the larger holistic view of style,” said Shayna Kossove, Clique Brands svp of media revenue. “Moving into 2020, we’ll continue to lean into beauty. This event will show our consumers and brands that we’re serious about that.”
Although brands did not have to pay to participate, brands like M.A.C., Tarte and Laura Mercier are contributing between 1,000 and 2,000 samples of product. There will also be masterclasses about brows with Anastasia Beverly Hills, and a founder panel with Linda Wells from Flesh and Suzi Weiss-Fischmann from OPI.
Founded in 2006, Who What Wear has held a NYFW event in 2017 and a few pop-ups, but has not fully explored offline activations. It is entering into the beauty event space when it has hit peak saturation with events like Sephoria, BeautyCon and Ipsy IRL, among others. Nicky Balestrieri, co-founder of The Gathery, a creative agency that created both Popsugar Playground and 29 Rooms, said that these types of events help digital media companies create “experiential intellectual property.” But it doesn’t come easy, and not all Who What Wear products have appeared to be a success. In 2017, the publication launched a shoppable mobile app that appears to have since shut down.
“Experiential is a very expensive and laborious product, which is why you want to create a construct or theme you can reuse,” he said. “For digital brands, you can build and maintain a following online, but in order to personalize the brand, they have to [do these types of events].”
Who What Wear appears to be leaning on the buzziness of beauty discovery to get readers excited about the event, but also on its editorial curation and editors for its point of view and differentiation. Those editors will be present at the event to greet attendees. Hillary Kerry, Clique Brands co-founder, said the event is meant to give attendees the same level of access as its beauty editors.
“People who come to the event will understand their beauty style as well as their skin-care needs,” she said. “It’s not just about whatever random skin-care brand is out there [in the market] now.”
According to Kossove, Who What Wear surveyed its audience in early 2019 and found that 83% are “highly interested” in beauty content. Currently, beauty comprises 15% of all Who What Wear stories, but the expectation is that it will rise to nearly 25% in 2020. To garner attention for the event, Who What Wear began promoting it on its social pages like Instagram and Facebook on Nov. 27, and it will have a site post published on Monday, Dec. 9. Attendees of the event will also be encouraged to use the hashtag #thelineupwithwhowhatwear. Kerr added that Clique Brands plans to expand the event to additional locations, like New York City, but that specific dates were not yet determined.
“The goal isn’t about selling products, but it is about engaging with our audience,” Kerr said. “We think The Lineup is a natural extension of the brand and [about] offering a personalized beauty journey.”