When hair-care line Tresemmé began officially sponsoring New York Fashion Week in 2006, runways were largely meant for the eyes of magazine editors and retail buyers. While the behind-the-scenes beauty styling that went down backstage complemented a fashion designer’s overall vision, it wasn’t the same high-profile moment for the beauty brands doing the work that it is today.
“The first iPhone wasn’t even around until 2007, which really brought fashion and beauty to everyone all over the world; social media was nothing,” said Tresemmé global brand director Mark Lodwick. “Though all of that has changed, we still love to use fashion week as an opportunity to show what our products can do.”
Lodwick said New York Fashion Week is now a “strong equity” play for the brand. The same was said by Maybelline New York, which began sponsoring NYFW in 2009. Neither brand, nor IMG, which hosts New York Fashion Week, would disclose what cost of the investment is to be an official NYFW sponsor.
For Spring 2019, Tresemmé is working with 10 fashion houses, from new players like Nonie to established players like Rodarte and Carolina Herrera on backstage beauty. To make the most of its time backstage, the hair-care brand has leaned into its digital content strategy around influencers and even beauty street style versus pure backstage beauty images as content.
This has worked in the past for the brand: Last February, its highest performing NYFW content was an Instagram post featuring fashion influencer Rocky Barnes getting her hair done at Tresemmé’s Spring Studios pop-up. The single post reached 1.2 million fans and had nearly 20,000 engagements, according to the brand.
Another post from the Spring Studios pop-up featuring beauty influencer Tess Christine and the brand’s Micro Mist Hairspray, which launched around NYFW, received the highest engagement rate of 7.2 percent of all influencer NYFW posts that included haircare product. Tresemmé’s seasonal pop-up, where attendees get complimentary dry styling appointments, is continuing again for the Spring 2019 shows as, Lodwick said, “It drives unprecedented content creation for the brand.”
Fashion week–adjacent beauty content also happens to be a key engagement driver for IMG. One of its top-performing Instagram posts in February was a street style image of an anonymous show-goer wearing a crown braid — it received nearly 12,000 likes.
“Street beauty has become a whole other layer of inspiration,” said Leslie Russo, IMG executive vice president of fashion partnerships and marketing, acknowledging that those makeup and hair looks are more relatable to the rest of the country and even the world.
According to Russo, on average, IMG creates 50 pieces of beauty content per season, which are shared across its website and social channels — one third of those images and videos are backstage beauty, while the other two-thirds are street-style beauty and front-row beauty. She said the same type of beauty content is now being shared by the aforementioned influencers and even celebrities, like IMG model Gigi Hadid.
Maybelline New York certainly understands the importance of live-streaming the week’s worth of festivities firsthand. Last February, a Maybelline masterclass video featuring beauty influencers Desi Perkins and Katy DeGroot (also known as Lustrelux) garnered 18,000 views on Facebook.
For Spring 2019, the L’Oréal-owned brand will not only pull the social media levers it has in the past — Maybelline regularly posts product and inspiration show content throughout the week (in February, the brand received as many as 100,000 likes on a NYFW post), and it has Fashion Week–related Stories saved on its Instagram page — but it will also live-stream three fashion shows and the backstage prep to viewers in China for the first time.
On Monday, Maybelline will do the makeup looks for Chinese fashion labels JNBY, Particle Fever and Angel Chen, and the shows will be aired from Sept. 11-13 on Tmall. The footage will come from the brand itself, as well as from model and Maybelline global ambassador Josephine Skriver, who will be sitting front row at the aforementioned shows.
“We are trying to make all of our fashion week content accessible to all consumers, everywhere,” said Amy Whang, Maybelline senior vice president of marketing.
Though this is a new type of New York Fashion Week moment for Maybelline and Tmall, the two have partnered in the past. In April 2016, Maybelline and 50 Chinese influencers live-streamed on Tmall for the year of Wang Hong. More than 5 million people tuned in during the event, and the content generated more than 3.5 million likes in one hour. It broke the live-stream history record on Tmall with 10,000 Maybelline glosses sold in one night. Fittingly, expectations are high for the New York Fashion Week: China Day coverage, as well.
It’s smart business, said Russo. “New York Fashion Week isn’t just a temporary event anymore, especially for beauty, because you can get the look now. It’s a cultural conversation that marks the beginning of the consumer consumption period,” she said. “From a business standpoint, the social media around fashion week, as opposed to waiting for traditional media, really moves the needle for brands.” One example, according to Russo, is when Colgate did a Fashion Week activation, which started during the shows in 2016. This translated into a 33 percent lift in sales for Colgate around its Optic White Radiance line when the products landed in Target stores.
Maybelline, like TRESemmé, is also not underestimating its physical presence around fashion week, in New York specifically. This week, it opens its Maybelline House at Hotel Indigo, a pop-up-like experience for editors and influencers, which is also open to the public. Model Adriana Lima and influencer Shayla Mitchell will also be on hand. The brand will feature a Fit Me Foundation Lab activation and an Instagrammable Mirror Wall moment, where attendees can share their experiences on social media. Though Whang would not reveal the investment required for such a space, she did say it was “much larger” than anything Maybelline has previously done at NYFW.
But perhaps most importantly, Maybelline will be teasing new product, including its expanded SuperStay Matte Ink lipstick shade range and its new Soda Pop eyeshadow palette. Soda Pop is the next iteration of its limited-edition Lemonade Craze palette, which was first teased last February at the Jason Wu fashion show. Though it was buzzed about on Instagram months before its April release, it became a best seller on Amazon, thanks to pre-orders in March. Tribe Dynamics reported that the palette had an earned media value (which refers to the publicity gained through promotional efforts versus traditional media) of $894,000 as of June.
Clearly, these types of NYFW- centric mega-installations, influencer partnerships, livestreams and, of course, perfectly timed product drops are not slowing down any time soon: New York Fashion Week is still big business for American beauty brands.