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Inside Victoria Beckham’s Big Bet on Beauty

The line, which makes up more than half of the designer’s total business, is revving up its ambitions, with new retail partners and a new category launch: fragrance.
Inside Victoria Beckham’s big bet on beauty.
The beauty label is revving up its ambitions, with new retail partners and a new category launch: fragrance. (Dan Jackson for Victoria Beckham Beauty)

Victoria Beckham admits that she is a control freak.

When designing sales counters for her beauty line’s push into retail, Beckham pored over dozens of stone and wood samples, even consulting her interior designer, Rose Uniacke, to make sure retail outposts had the look and feel of her London home.

“I was obsessed with finding the right stone,” she told The Business of Beauty. “It wasn’t just about control, but trying to create a meaningful space, a personal space where you can come and pick up our compacts, and you can feel the love and care that went into it.”

For the record, Beckham settled on rustic mahogany for two counters and black marble for another.

Nearly a year after reintroducing herself to the fashion community with her first runway show since the pandemic, Beckham has turned her attention to growing her beauty business. Launched online in 2019, Victoria Beckham Beauty is betting on wholesale to capture new customers. This week, the label debuts at La Samaritaine in Paris and on, and by the end of October, it will have entered Selfridges in London and Neiman Marcus in Dallas, Houston and Beverly Hills. The latter store will also sell her brand’s first fragrances, which launch this week. A wider push into complexion and skin care is set for next year.

Beauty is now at the core of Victoria Beckham’s brand, by some measures more so than her runway collections, bags, or “VB Body” knitwear. The category makes up more than 50 percent of the whole enterprise’s sales, which totalled £58 million ($71 million), according to David Belhassen, founder and managing partner of NEO Investment Partners, an investor in Victoria Beckham Holdings Limited. Beauty has helped drive growth — revenue last year was up more than 40 percent from 2021 revenues reported to Companies House. Both the fashion and beauty arms were profitable last year for the first time since Beckham launched fashion in 2008, Belhassen said. He expects beauty wholesale to account for 20 percent of revenue in the next four years, from 3 percent today.

The push into retail comes as other direct-to-consumer brands, including Glossier and Kylie Cosmetics, have embraced wholesale. For the Beckham brand, which has found success recently with lower-priced fashion, beauty is another way to broaden the potential customer base. Even her most expensive beauty products, from her collaboration with luxury skin care line with Augustinus Bader, cost less than a Victoria Beckham bag or dress.

“We are thinking about how we build a modern luxury brand today, and being found in certain places really does help the customer understand what this brand is and what its adjacencies are and that’s valuable,” said Katia Beauchamp, the Birchbox founder who joined Victoria Beckham Beauty as chief executive officer in August 2022.

The Designer Beauty Rush

Fashion brands like Chanel, Dior, Hermes and Prada, which recently rebooted cosmetics and skin care in partnership with L’Oréal, typically use beauty as a way to widen their audiences via a more accessible priced product.

For others, beauty is a way to capitalise on a well-known name that hasn’t managed to reach its full potential with fashion alone. In August, Marc Jacobs Beauty announced its comeback with Coty, after Kendo abruptly shuttered the line, and Puig-owned Rabanne extended from fragrance to a 90-piece colour cosmetics collection. Estée Lauder Cos. acquired the rights to Balmain Beauty last year.

“[It’s] an attempt to prop up designer ambitions that have fallen short of the mark – and make some money in the process,” said Luca Solca, luxury goods analyst at Bernstein.

The upside of beauty is essentially limitless. Tom Ford is a $1 billion-a-year beauty brand built off a much smaller fashion label. In August, overall designer makeup sales revenue grew by 19 percent year over year, more than the overall prestige makeup market, according to Circana.

More Stores, More Products

The most successful fashion-beauty crossovers play off what consumers love about a brand or designer. For Beckham, it was her eyes.

Launched in 2019, Victoria Beckham Beauty’s first products were inspired by its founder’s signature smokey eye. There was also a “better-for-you” message; its “eye brick” eyeshadow compact, kajal liners and a cream eyeshadow pods followed Credo’s clean beauty standards and were made with minimal plastic. At the time, Beckham said the line would sell primarily direct-to-consumer, following her approach to her namesake fashion line.

VBB’s eye business remains its best-selling category. In August, the brand added a volumising Vast Lash Mascara, which has subsequently increased the productivity of all eye SKUs, said Beauchamp. Eye products have also lent themselves well to both runway collections and subsequent brand campaigns; at Beckham’s Fall/Winter 2023 fashion show, models’ eye were accented with subtle pinks and bold yellows.

Beauchamp and Belhassen believe wholesale is the key to turning Beckham’s beauty brand into a retail juggernaut. While eye is the brand’s hero category online, the line’s collaboration with Augustinus Bader, which retails for $145 to $320 for full-size bottles, are top sellers at Violet Grey and Bergdorf Goodman.

“It will be interesting to see what the best-sellers are in real life, especially with high consideration purchases,” Beauchamp said.

The line’s three fragrances, which launch online this week, are also made for retail, given how important it is for shoppers to test and try fragrance in store. Beckham plans to expand more deeply into skin care and complexion, categories that often require beauty advisors’ expertise and real-life trial and error, in 2024.

“I know enough about skin care, and I have enough access to it, where there are things I think we can do on our own,” Beckham said.

Victoria Beckham fashion and beauty will be sold in separate areas of the department stores that carry both lines. But Beckham is exploring ways to help customers connect the dots.

Retail salespeople will present interior decorator-esque books filled with makeup and fashion looks for prospective customers to discover their “beauty style,” and Beckham has also been preoccupied with deciding beauty advisors’ wardrobe, from the “right shirt to the right shape of pants to the perfect belt.”

“I’m very considered. What image are we trying to create? Who is our character? Everything I do is all about the woman,” she said.

Editor’s Note: This article was updated on Sept. 25, 2023, to amend the company’s projections of its beauty wholesale business.

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