Luxury niche fragrance brand House of Sillage is bullish on the makeup category’s sales rebound.
House of Sillage launched in 2012 and branched into lipstick in 2018. It’s now venturing into other color cosmetics including eyeshadow, a powder highlighter and blush through an online-only collaboration with Disney featuring Minnie and Mickey Mouse. House of Sillage is sold at Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and other luxury retailers. Typically, a House of Sillage women’s fragrance is about $360 for a 2.5-ounce bottle, while its bow-shaped lipstick cases are $200-$300. Lipstick refills retail for $35. The four new cosmetic products range from $36-$58, with a vault set of eight total products selling for $240. House of Sillage previously collaborated with Disney on a fragrance in Nov. 2020, and has partnered with Amazon Studios and Warner Bros. Pictures.
“We wanted the extension of the products [to be] at a lower price point for those customers who were looking for that,” said Nicole Mather, House of Sillage founder and CEO. “After this, we will have another cosmetic launch, which will tie into a limited edition fragrance.”
House of Sillage saw a 300% increased in its DTC e-commerce business in 2020, but Mather declined to state overall sales growth or the percentage of sales attributed to its existing lipstick products. Since 2018, several other fragrance brands have expanded into cosmetics, often starting with lipstick. By Kilian launched a fragranced lipstick collection in Jan. 2019. Next was luxury brand Bond No. 9 in Feb. 2019, followed by Byredo in Oct. 2020. And fashion houses Gucci and Hermès, both with strong fragrance portfolios, opted to make the leap into beauty in 2019 and 2020, respectively.
“Makeup is a completely different creative process and scientifically different; it’s a completely different lane than fragrance,” said Linda Levy, president of industry group The Fragrance Foundation. “Fragrance is an invisible accessory and creates the last piece of your fashion statement, and lipstick, even in the worst times, has always been something that gives you that instantaneous emotional lift.”
The last year has proven tough for makeup. While the fragrance sales decline was less severe due to a boom in home fragrances and holiday sales. According to the NPD data, makeup sales declined 34% in 2020 compared to 2019, while fragrance declined by 8%. For its part, House of Sillage launched lip balms to adjust to the consumer-buying shift, introduced flash sale promotions to its e-commerce to reach new customers, and started selling fukubukuro-style mystery boxes to generate shopping interest, said Mather.
Yet, Levy said that now is still a good time for a fragrance brand to expand into cosmetics, in anticipation of a category sales boost post-pandemic. Indeed, there have been experiences of “revenge buying” in Asian markets and predictions of a resurgence of a 1920s-style culture (and hedonism) in the United States.
But in the meantime, House of Sillage is slowly building out its portfolio through collection launches and establishing a name for itself in cosmetics. The brand is promoting the Disney collaboration across Instagram and YouTube, working with Victoria Lyn (@VictoriaLyn, 1 million followers), among others. House of Sillage does not pay influencers, but it uses an invite-only affiliate program. The brand will also host its own video tutorials featuring the makeup across its social accounts.
Aside from the makeup expansion, House of Sillage plans to expand into other luxury categories such as candles, home fragrance and body lotions, and will introduce refillable bottles by end of 2021.
“We want to give our customers what they are looking for, and if it’s not something that they’re looking for, then we’ll move on,” said Mather. “What we’re doing in the market [with makeup] is getting an immediate reaction from our consumers… We’re not a huge conglomerate company, so we can make quick decisions and are quick to market.”