As parent company Farfetch leans into beauty, Browns, the 52-year-old London fashion retailer acquired by Farfetch in 2015, is also bringing the worlds of beauty and fashion together. On Wednesday, it launched the Browns Beauty department with a focus on curation, community expertise, dedicated spaces for content creation and beauty expert residencies.
With an initial launch of 90 brands, Browns is taking a curated approach to beauty. Its beauty launch plays into the wider push of its parent company, Farfetch, into the beauty space. Both Farfetch.com and streetwear holding company New Guards Group, which Farfetch acquired in 2019, launched into beauty on Wednesday. For its part, NGG launched Off-White’s first beauty brand, starting with fragrance. Makeup and nail products are set to roll out next month.
For its part, Browns is aiming to differentiate itself from local beauty retailers like Selfridges and Cult Beauty by catering to its core consumers who are looking for innovative, unknown brands, as well as well-known staples, according to executives during a press preview.
Recommendations will be offered to customers by the Browns Beauty Community of insiders, both on-site and online. A social media studio will allow content creators to document trials of beauty products for videos and photos. And a roster of beauty brands like Nature Bissé and Sunday Riley will take up residencies, which will center on offering services on-site. Overall, the offering is aimed at proving Browns as a leader in beauty curation, from day one, in the U.K. and E.U.
Browns Beauty, which is operating via a traditional wholesale model, marks the first time Browns has delved into the beauty space after previously launching home fragrance.
According to Ida Petersson, Browns’ buying director, the retailer has always focused on creating a curated fashion offering and supporting young designers. “We saw that opportunity to recreate that [approach] in beauty and to just have fun with it,” she said.
She added, “Fashion is really intertwined with beauty, though it always seems to be separated in retail. How you do your hair or your makeup is, for most of us, an important part of your style.” She noted that, on Browns’ TikTok account (where it has 1,000 followers), questions about beauty are just as frequent as those about fashion. That prompted the Browns team to explore the link between the two industries and develop their own offering, she said.
Browns’ beauty assortment includes well-known brands like Augustinus Bader and Dr. Barbara Sturm, under-the-radar labels like Medik8 and Lanshin, as well as new launches like Off-White and The Grey. The retailer plans to support young brands with their distribution and development, helping them make their mark in the beauty industry, similar to the way it’s currently supporting young fashion designers.
“We want to be that platform for new talent, as we know how difficult and expensive it is to set up a brand. Being able to prepay designers and new brands and offer them expert support is part of building up this community,” said Petersson.
Editorial veteran Nellie Eden was announced last month as Browns’ first creative beauty editor in residence. For Browns’ first beauty campaign, she chose strong imagery with Brown’s signature irreverence. Lashes are shown pushed up with a mascara brush and lips are shown being painted with a maraschino cherry. Titled Big Little Rituals, it’s meant to celebrate beauty routines.
“I wanted to stay true to the brand spirit, which is really funny and sexy and irreverent and silly. It comes through [at Browns] when you come into the store and you meet people. It’s serious, as well, but we’re having fun with it, ” said Eden. Eden’s resume includes editorial roles at Dazed and Refinery29, as well as creative work for brands including Burberry, Byredo and Glossier.
Just as Browns prioritizes a gender-neutral offering by putting menswear and womenswear together, a focus on inclusivity will extend to its makeup and skin care, with no dedicated women’s or men’s beauty sections.
“We set up a test panel to make sure that, when it comes to color — across all the foundation shades, lipsticks and hair products — there is something for every variation, every skin tone, every type of hair,” said Petersson. She also noted that the company is unwilling to buy into makeup brands without a wide skin color assortment.
To prep for the launch, Browns Beauty store associates researched skin-care routines through internal surveys and asked key customers about their beauty habits and preferences. The retailer also set up the Browns Beauty Community, a team of 16 individuals in beauty and culture chosen for their influence in media, beauty and community. The paid influencers will provide product recommendations to the Browns customer on the website and at events, create content for the retailer and lead events at the store.
Browns Beauty will operate according to quarterly themes, managed much like an editorial calendar. The second theme, “Color,” will focus on the artistry and experimentation that comes with make-up. The third, “Volume,” will celebrate size and inclusivity. The themes will come with a dedicated roster of in-store events and different curations on the Browns site. In addition, a rotating collection of new brands will be housed in an in-store discovery space, dubbed The Beauty Pod. And there will be regular updates to the brand residencies in the beauty studio, which is a space focused on bringing the best beauty treatments to Brown’s beauty customers.
Natura Bissé will be the first brand in residence at Browns Brook Street. Meanwhile, Sunday Riley will be first at Browns East, offering mini-facials throughout May — Gua sha brand Lanshin will follow. Outside of London, Browns beauty offering is available to shop via brownsfashion.com.