One of the first big fashion events of the year, Pitti Uomo kicked off yesterday. The fashion calendar is heavy in trade shows across the globe, and a number of big men’s fashion shows across Europe are just around the corner. Almost every week of 2019 will be host to a fashion week in London or Denmark or Seoul, making for a crowded calendar.
What is interesting about the glut of shows is that women’s fashion’s traditional dominance of the fashion show is waning in favor of more coed shows. This can be attributed, in part, to the daringness and cultural cachet that men’s fashion has accumulated over just the past few years. Brands that have traditionally never done menswear, from luxury brands like Céline to mass brands like Madewell, all entered the menswear game in the last year. Fashion writer Christina Binkley pointed to the Golden Globes earlier this week, where men’s outfits, like Timothée Chalamet’s which included a sequined harness, exhibited the kind of daring “all-caps fashion,” as Binkley puts it, that is traditionally the domain of women.
“We’ve been talking about this for a while,” Binkley said on Tuesday. “This is purely my opinion, but you’ve got a whole bunch of young men that are just now starting to buy fashion, who haven’t been told to be scared of it their whole lives like their fathers were. The harness that Chalamet wore… I mean, women don’t usually go that daring, and he went for it. People commented on it and it was eye-catching, but it looked great and nobody flipped out. Men’s fashion is much more adventurous now.” –Danny Parisi
Beauty’s 40-shade quota is over
Ever since Rihanna raised the stakes in beauty with the introduction of Fenty Beauty’s launch of its 40-shade Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation in September 2017, a bevy of brands, from Tarte to Dior, have matched the singer-meets-beauty-entrepreneur’s stance on inclusivity and diversity.
Some brands have tried to push past 40 shades to draw customers in, like NYX Professional Makeup and Il Makiage (the former offers 45 shades of its Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Full Coverage Foundation, and the latter has 50 options in its Woke Up Like This line). Even Fenty Beauty announced last week it is upping its standard to 50 shades. But cult brand Morphe is going even bigger with its launch of its first-ever complexion line, Fluidity, which offers 60 shades and launches on Jan. 17.
Known for its affordable and highly pigmented color cosmetics available at low prices, as well as its sell-out collaborations with influencers like Jaclyn Hill and James Charles, Morphe has a fervent customer base. (The brand has 8.5 million followers on Instagram, and a recent in-feed video post about Fluidity garnered over 542,000 views.)
Though the market for diverse foundations has become increasingly more crowded, Morphe’s avid customer is an asset as it launches in its own doors and site, MorpheBrushes.com, and at 600 of Ulta Beauty’s best-performing doors. (Ulta previously reacted to Fenty Beauty’s launch with Sephora in June by bringing in Revlon’s new prestige brand called Flesh, which also comes in 40 shades.)
“They’re clearly engaging with their community and making products that solve their needs,” said brand strategy consultant Valerie Nguyen. “While brands should be inclusive, so that anybody who wants to be a part of their community can be, brands still need to operate from a strong sense of who they’re for.”
This fits with Morphe’s modus operandi. Founder Linda Tawil previously told Glossy that she felt uninvited to the beauty table because, outside of Morphe, there’s a lack of great quality makeup at less expensive prices. Fluidity retails for $18. With the launch, Morphe is also introducing two primers, 31 shades of concealer and 15 shades of powder to match back to the foundations. They range in price from $9 to $12.
But not all initial reviews of the Fluidity product have been positive, including those from influencer Alissa Ashley. (Ashley previously collaborated with NYX on its Can’t Stop Won’t Stop foundation in August 2018.)
“With any industry, but especially one ruled by word of mouth like beauty, no amount of tactics will cover up bad product,” said Nguyen, of the comments. “Brands have to live up to inclusive values with products that still work. If brands try to be everything to everybody, they wind up being nothing.”
It’s yet to be seen how the rest of Morphe’s community will react come Jan. 17. –Priya Rao
“Real people” are giving fashion models a run for their money
As fashion consumers increasingly value authenticity and support brands with which they feel a connection, more brands are supplementing the thin models typically found on e-commerce product pages with photo reviews submitted by customers.
Call it the Rent the Runway effect. The company welcomed photo reviews early on, and on a call last month, chief merchant officer Sarah Tam said more than 1.5 million examples now live on the site at any given time. The reviews are communicated to brand partners, which can use them to perfect features like fit and choice fabric. And they’re especially helpful for online shoppers, notoriously left in the dark as to any magic done by photo stylists (pinning, double-sided-taping, etc.) and offered limited reference points, like “Model is 5’9” and wearing a size 2.”
“We don’t need to incentivize customers and subscribers; they are willing to provide the information because it makes their experience better and other people’s experiences better,” said Anushka Salinas, Rent the Runway’s chief revenue officer, who noted that more than half of Rent the Runway’s customers submit review of some sort.
Twenty-two-year-old fast-fashion brand Lulu’s, which received a $120 million round of funding in March, took the concept a step further by allowing shoppers to filter submitted customer photos by features including height, weight, chest measurement, waist measurement and build. As with its recent launches of standardized sizing across styles and on-staff “fit experts,” the drive was to ensure customers receive a perfect fit with every order. The tool saw the most positive customer feedback among company initiatives in 2018, said Colleen Winder, Lulu’s co-founder and CEO.
“Not everyone has a model body,” she said, “so they want to look at someone who’s not a model. They want to see someone with their own body type, and then decide whether they want to make a purchase.” –Jill Manoff