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Courtesy of Browns

In a sea of products, Browns is launching a curated beauty edit

TextAlex Peters

The luxury fashion retailer has unveiled a community-led beauty category

The beauty market is saturated with choices. With new brands launching constantly, products dropping every day, and never-ending hot ingredients that you absolutely must try, it can be hard to know where to start. Browns is hoping to help with that, as it launches its beauty category today.

Browns has built its reputation on its meticulous fashion edits, offering highly curated selections that cut out all the noise and hone in on the best pieces. Now, the luxury London retailer will attempt to do the same for beauty with small edits of selected products across skincare, make-up, hair, fragrances, and wellness. Both established and emerging brands will be featured, including the likes of Augustinus Bader, Medik8, Bread, La Bouche Rouge and The Unseen. 

“Beauty at Browns is about offering a witty, magical, unexpected and personal shopping experience for people looking to top up their bathroom cabinet,” says Nellie Eden, Creative Beauty Editor-in-Residence. “No nonsense, all pure imagination.”

The edit will live online and physically in stores, with a dedicated beauty pod in the East London boutique. Alongside the products, the continuation of the beauty residency programme will see the two stores play host to beauty experiences and experts. First up is Natura Bisse and Sunday Riley, with facial gua sha from Lanshin to follow.

“The beauty space, like fashion, is a category that offers infinite room for playfulness, self-expression and joy,” says Ida Petersson, Browns Buying Director. The fragrance, candles and wellness products the retailer previously stocked have always been “strong performers”, Petersson shared, especially as the pandemic hit and following the success of the beauty residences, the brand made the decision to commit to the category. 

When it came to deciding on the brands and products that would be featured, Petersson says they had to reflect the retailer’s values of being ‘conscious’, ‘innovative,’ ‘iconic,’ and ‘inclusive’. “We see the line-up for launch as a starting base and an opportunity to allow the beauty community to understand what we stand for,” she says. 

Also aiding in the decision-making was the newly set-up “Browns Beauty Community”, described as a dedicated external ambassador programme. Community members will offer testimonials and feedback, applying a ‘Rated by Browns’ seal of approval to their favourite products, as well as engaging with customers through social media. “They’re not all professional make-up artists, but our customers aren’t either,” says Eden, who helped hand-pick the members including Lynskii, Dominic Cadogan, Cozette McCreery and Bibi Abdulkadir. “This community will be ever-evolving and growing; they'll review new products, shoot content with us, and create content for us too.”

To launch the category, Browns have released “Big Little Rituals”, a campaign that celebrates community and turns beauty myths upside down. This messaging was born from conversations Browns had with “real people” ahead of the launch, who expressed a desire to experience beauty without all the fluffy promises. “The people who were involved in our external roundtables were clear on what was important to them: great products, feeling good and feeling inspired,” says Eden. Another learning was that daily beauty rituals at the beginning and end of the day really helped people bring themselves closer to how they felt on the inside. “It wasn't about self-improvement or a perfect beat, it was about doing your own thing with your own self-taught hacks and feeling great,” she says. 

The launch of Beauty at Browns is part of a larger beauty strategy from the retailer’s owner Farfetch which is simultaneously entering the category today with its own beauty destination, “Beauty Beyond Boundaries”. Farfetch will stock over 100 brands, including Tom Ford Beauty, La Mer, Westman Atelier and Dr Barbara Sturm. The retailer is also launching the “Beauty Global Community Platform” where members can connect with beauty experts and peers, review products and have access to benefits.        

“We took this as an opportunity to shake up the online beauty retail experience by bridging fashion and beauty to appeal to our existing audience of fashion lovers,” says Holli Rodgers, chief brand officer of Farfetch. As well as the community platform, the retailer has established the Farfetch Beauty Global Collective, an international committee of industry experts including Dazed Beauty founder Isamaya Ffrench, Cassandra Grey, Erin Parsons, Jawara, Dr Michelle Henry, Michelle Wong, Nico Hiraga, and Violet Chachki. 

With the launch of beauty, Farfetch and Browns will be hoping to do better than Net-a-Porter. The fashion retailer launched its beauty category in 2013, yet beauty made up only 4 per cent of its sales in 2020, according to data from Rakuten Intelligence.

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