Victoria Beckham expands into skincare, plans fragrance launch for 2020
“I'm going to launch my first skincare product next week, and my first fragrance will arrive next year, I’m already working on it,” revealed Victoria Beckham to a surprised audience, speaking at the Vogue Fashion Festival 2019 in Paris. The British businesswoman is focusing on the cosmetics market, and is keen to expand the Victoria Beckham Beauty brand, which she launched this year.
It isn’t Beckham’s first foray into beauty: she dropped several make-up collaborations with US group Estée Lauder before deciding to launch her eponymous brand. “I learned a lot from this experience, but I also realised that if I wanted to launch the cosmetics brand of the future, I’d have to do it on my own,” said Beckham. She started going solo this year, and her cornerstones are a luxury positioning, ‘clean’ formulations, transparent advertising, environmentally friendly products thanks to reduced plastic usage and no outer packaging, and an inclusive range suitable to all skin colours and types.
Beauty at the heart of Victoria Beckham's plans
Fortunately, Beckham has managed to build a strong team around her. Her experience with Estée Lauder proved useful in many respects, especially since it allowed her to meet Sarah Creal, a talented make-up product development expert who worked with Beckham on the two capsule collections she launched with the US group. Now, Creal is the CEO and co-founder of Victoria Beckham Beauty, the cosmetics brand that, unsurprisingly, seems to be at the heart of the company’s future plans, especially after the new brand’s launch was heralded in September by a ‘smokey-eyed’ pic of Victoria Beckham on Instagram, sparking off quite a buzz on social media.
After this encouraging start, Beckham will take her first steps into skincare on Tuesday November 19, with the launch of her first luxury hydrating cream developed with skincare expert Augustinus Bader, promoted via the #VBGlow hashtag on social media. “Having the opportunity to collaborate with Victoria on this excursion in the skincare market is an honour for me. It is the first product of its kind, one that protects the face’s skin cells at the same time as it prepares the skin for the application of make-up,” said Professor Bader on Instagram. The new face cream will be available for purchase at the not insignificant sum of €240.
Extending the product range is expected to also enable the Victoria Beckham company to increase its margin and rebalance its books. According to the latest published figures, the company’s sales grew by 17% in 2018, reaching £42.5 million. In the same year, it posted losses for £10.2 million. The company has been led since 2018 by CEO Marie LeBlanc de Reynies, following the departure of Paolo Riva after a tenure of only one year. In 2017, NEO Investment Partners acquired a 28% stake in Victoria Beckham. The investment fund injected fresh funds worth £30 million to boost the brand’s online and physical retail growth. David Beckham did likewise, with a capital contribution of £23 million.
“I’d love to make a lot of collaborations and I’m open to discussion”
“I believe collaborations are interesting for consumers. Collaborations inspire me, especially surprising ones. Besides, they are a good learning and training opportunity, and can help position [the brand] in new segments,” said Beckham, whose sights are already set beyond the world of cosmetics. In fashion, she has notably collaborated with Reebok, allowing her label to enter the sportswear arena. Beckham also underlined the advantages of working with specialised factories that are experienced in the industry.
“For the time being, ours is a small team, [numbering 179 employees in 2017], but I’d love to make a lot of collaborations and I’m open to discussion,” said Beckham. To this end, Beckham is cultivating the right relationships: she admired Karl Lagerfeld enormously, and is friendly with Valentino. “I love having very intelligent, inspirational people around me. At the same time, you need to be focused on what you want and what your audience expects. It’s essential always to be honest with yourself, and humble about your own work,” said Beckham with striking confidence.
Environmental responsibility was often mentioned in Beckham's speech. “The fashion industry has a lot of catching up to do. In cosmetics, I find it's easier to keep up-to-date in terms of environmental responsibility. Since this is a new launch, we started from scratch. It's also a challenge for my team,” she said, adding that “I want to create items that people can keep season after season. This too is a way of taking action for the environment.”
Surprisingly, behind the entrepreneur there is an ordinary woman. “As I consumer, I couldn’t find what I was looking for,” she said. It was this frustration that, 11 years ago, led Beckham to launch her eponymous brand, after a series of one-off collaborations with several labels. “I was well aware that being married to David Beckham and being a former Spice Girl would fuel prejudice. You must turn a deaf ear to that. I only listen to constructive criticism,” she stated.
“I consider myself a feminist now”
Beckham’s professional career and personal life choices took her where she is now. “If I hadn’t worn those outfits on stage, I wouldn’t be the person I am now, and I wouldn't have been able to drive ‘posh’ style so far,” she said, talking about her past wardrobe experience. She went even further, by saying that “when I was part of the Spice Girls in the 90s, the challenge was to accept yourself as you truly were and embrace who you are. It was a powerful message, which evidently turned all of us into feminists. I consider myself a feminist now,” she said, proudly emphasising that women are highly represented in her company.
And while admitting she is a “control freak” with regards to her label's creative process, Beckham does not underestimate the importance “of having a constant conversation with the label’s community. I try to give customers what they’re looking for, in fashion and cosmetics. The clothes I create are items I could wear myself and which make me dream,” she said. And there is no question of losing touch with reality. “I’m a 45-year old woman with four kids. Perhaps I no longer dare to wear a mini-skirt, but I'd still like to, and I can envisage myself doing it for a photo shoot,” said Beckham.
And while stepping out to greet the audience at the end of a catwalk show can be exhilarating, Beckham is extremely conscious of the pressure she puts on herself and the sacrifices she has had to make. “People don’t realise what lies behind all this. I’m constantly asking myself whether what I’m presenting in my catwalk shows is right, and good enough. As a working mother, I’ve had to give up many things and I’ve often felt guilty,” she confided. Beckham's message for the young people who want to create their own brands in these industries was clear: “Once you’ve succeeded, you realise it is even harder to maintain your position. You must carry on working hard and appreciate the journey.”
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