Sephora Takes on Beautycon | BoF Professional, The Week Ahead

Hello BoF Professionals, welcome to our latest members-only briefing: The Week Ahead. Think of it as your “cheat sheet” to what everyone will be talking about on Monday.

THE CHEAT SHEET

Sephora’s Bid to Break Out of the Beauty Aisle

A customisable lipstick station | Instagram/@sephora

  • Sephora is holding a two-day event in Los Angeles this weekend, dubbed Sephoria 
  • The event is built around “rooms” within Sephoria’s “House of Beauty” and will include samples, talks and interactive features
  • The format originated with Beautycon, which hosts events in multiple cities attended by tens of thousands

Sephora’s upcoming two-day event isn’t the first beauty convention, but with a garden, a hands-on “kitchen” and a personalised lipstick station, the LVMH-owned retailer is determined to at least make its confab the most Instagrammable. Sephora is hoping to capture the runaway success of Beautycon, which has owned the beauty convention space since opening its industry meetups to tens of thousands of paying customers, and the frenzied atmosphere at its events has served as a launching pad for buzzy brands like Winky Lux. The company has its response to Sephoria in Beautycon Pop, a touring, “immersive” exhibition that opens in LA next month. Sephora is hoping for a pop with consumers and to provide brands an extra incentive to ink exclusive deals with the retailer. Ulta will no doubt be watching closely. 

The Bottom Line: Sephora is upping the ante in its increasingly head-on battle with Ulta for beauty customers, while defending against disruption as Beautycon spurs an experiential retail trend that threatens to make traditional stores feel outdated. 

The Winners and Losers of a Sears Bankruptcy

A Sears store displays its closure sign

A Sears store in a mall displays its closure sign | Source: Shutterstock

  • Sears bankruptcy fears escalate as retailer faces $134 million in debt payments Monday
  • The ailing chain operates over 800 Sears locations and over 300 Kmarts, reporting $16.7 billion in revenue last year
  • Walmart, JC Penney and Target are among retailers that could see an influx of former Sears customers

After years on life support, Sears’ creditors may finally pull the plug. Despite years of plunging sales and store closures, the 125-year-old retailer last year generated more revenue than Nordstrom and still anchors countless malls. Brands like Levi’s, Ralph Lauren and Champion have had years to prepare, reducing the odds they’ll be stuck with massive unpaid bills or piles of clothes locked in Sears warehouses. There’s upside for Sears’ rivals; J.C. Penney would see a 1.7 percent jump in sales if consumers transfer just 5 percent of their spending over from Sears, according to Cowen (shares in the chain jumped last week).

The Bottom Line: Budget-friendly retailers are already counting their future profits, but there’s a downside as well: other occupants of Sears-anchored malls may find an empty but open Sears is better than having an abandoned department store as their neighbor.

Asia’s Dueling Fashion Weeks

Seoul’s Dongdaemun Design Plaza | Source: Shutterstock

  • Shanghai Fashion Week wraps up on Wednesday
  • Seoul and Tokyo fashion weeks run through Saturday
  • Amazon has sponsored Tokyo’s fashion week since 2016

This week marks the latest iteration of a regional rivalry between Asia’s fashion capitals. Shanghai, Seoul and Tokyo each want to be known as a launchpad for local designers to storm the global stage. Each has its own strengths: Shanghai can claim to hold the key to China’s massive and rapidly growing luxury market, Tokyo has decades of history driving global fashion trends, while Seoul has made culture, from streetwear to K-pop, one of its chief exports. None has put all the pieces together to lay claim to the title of Asia’s premier fashion capital (though the sheer size of China’s market has many predicting Shanghai will eventually win out), and all have miles to go before approaching the global buzz generated by shows in New York, Paris or Milan.

The Bottom Line: These three fashion capitals are important stepping stones for emerging designers, but Asian brands with global followings know they can play to the hometown crowd just as easily from Paris or New York.

COMMENTS OF THE WEEK

Celebrity stylist Ty Hunter attends to Beyoncé’s dress at the Met Ball 2015 | Source: Getty

“The Unglamorous Reality of Being a Stylist to the Stars” struck a chord with the stylist community. Here is a selection of responses:

“People think working in fashion is glamorous. And while that’s true, it also has a very sad side. Not enough pay, too much stress … Trust me, it’s not fun to carry a $3,000 Valentino dress on the subway from showroom to showroom.” @lifeofleo

“Part of the problem is the impossible amount of so called ‘stylists.’ Today everybody thinks they can have access to that world without any qualifications, or background. The market is oversaturated with unqualified people.” @frankberlinstudio

“One of the reasons why some celebrities are loved so much is because of their ‘personal style,’  and a lot of the time that style is put together by someone who never gets credit. More credit to stylists!!!” @fashionassassinofficial

“Stylists should be respected and valued for their innate talent and ability to make or break the looks of these megastars. They are not the ‘hired help.’ They are the sculptors, the visionaries of a theme and that lasting impression that will live in the media and the memories of admirers for a lifetime.” @itsthereale

SUNDAY READING

Professional Exclusives You May Have Missed: 

The Week Ahead wants to hear from you! Send tips, suggestions, complaints and compliments to brian.baskin@businessoffashion.com. 

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