Lord & Taylor inks exclusive deal with makeup guru Bobbi Brown

Dive Brief:

  • Makeup guru Bobbi Brown and department store Lord & Taylor on Monday announced an exclusive partnership, which names Brown creative consultant. In that role, Brown will curate beauty, wellness products, accessories and apparel for a series of concept shops, according to a press release.

  • The “justBOBBI” concept shops, which will be featured at select stores and online, will coincide with the launch of Brown’s new book, “Beauty from the Inside Out.”

  • The project also includes content, such as livestreams and videos, that will air on Lord & Taylor’s and Brown’s social channels beginning April 21st.

Dive Insight:

Bobbi Brown spent a quarter century helming her eponymous beauty brand, but left Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, a mainstay of department stores nationwide, at the end of last year. That paved the way for this exclusive deal with Lord & Taylor. "I'm thrilled to partner with a store as iconic as Lord & Taylor as I embark on this new chapter with justBOBBI," she said in a statement. “It's the perfect opportunity to share my insight, knowledge and passion with consumers and help revolutionize the way we experience beauty and wellness.”

It’s key for Lord & Taylor, too, which is facing the slowing traffic and sales dogging the department store space in general. Increasingly, department stores must find ways to differentiate themselves, with exclusive partnerships like these, in order to entice shoppers into their vast spaces. And beauty is one of the few consumer product categories with growth potential, according to a recent Morgan Stanley research note.

While home improvement, dollar stores, specialty retail and off-price stores will be among the biggest growth drivers this year in retail, department stores are a gloomy outlier in retail, Moody’s said in a report released at the start of the year. The category failed to keep pace despite lower inventory levels and favorable seasonal weather, and “chalked up one of the worst retail sub-sector sales performances” in the holiday period, Moody’s senior analyst Christina Boni said, adding that online sales are becoming more integral to brick-and-mortar department stores’ topline growth. 

Nick Egelanian, president of retail development consultants SiteWorks International, said customers are turning to off-price stores and beauty retailers like Ulta instead of department stores, which is hurting the sector far more than e-commerce. “The narrative that’s out there that the internet has anything to do with department stores failing is wrong,” Egelanian told Retail Dive earlier this year. “It’s not stopping H&M from opening stores, it’s not stepping [off-price retailers] TJX or Ross. Cosmetics are the last bastion of the department stores, and Ulta is accelerating its store growth... This is the 30-year transfer of departments out of department stores. Department stores are under full scale assault, and this is just the beginning.”

Egelanian also noted that specialty retail, in contrast to stores selling goods perceived as being available anywhere, has a decided advantage in today’s brick-and-mortar landscape. While Brown, considering her name recognition, seems well positioned to open her own retail line, she told Women’s Wear Daily: “I don’t want to be a retailer,” also noting that she is “very loyal” and loves a partnership. That continues the approach she took from the beginning of her retail efforts: She debuted her first makeup collection in 1991 at Bergdorf Goodman.

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Filed Under: Corporate News
Top image credit: Lord & Taylor