How the Celebrity-Backed Brand Isn’t a New Thing

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In today’s world, you may see your favorite celeb launching their own beauty brand or lifestyle brand. Some good examples are Rihanna, Gweneth Paltrow, Kim Kardashian and many more. Celebrities can be considered influencers but on a higher scale. The growth of celebrity-based beauty brands has a long history.

Burberry Fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear

Let’s Go Back in History

In many countries with a royal family like the United Kingdom, the first “influencers” were considered the royal family. To have the royal family’s stamp of approval on your business and brand was and still a sign of prestige. For example, the brand, Burberry, is considered has a Royal Warrant from the Royal Family in the United Kingdom. I don’t know about you but, I have a couple of vintage Burberry pieces that I treasure.


The Bold ’90s

The slow rise of the celebrity we see today began in the ’90s. We saw supermodels like Naomi Campbell on the catwalks wearing outfits while celebrities like Brittany Spears and Brandy dancing their way on stage. You would have celebrities working with brands as ambassadors. For example, the famous 1992 Calvin Klein campaign featuring Mark Walherg was a huge success for the underwear sales of Calvin Klein. It was later recreated in 2013 by Justin Bieber.

1992 Calvin Klein campaign featuring Mark Walhberg

Celebrities started to be that face. Covergirl is a good example of a company that was already doing these trends. Brandy was one of their ambassadors in the ’90s with Tyra. The celebrity brand ambassador slowly started to reach beyond ambassadorship in the beauty industry in the 2000s.

The 2000s is here

The early 2000s is where you see the challenge celebrities started to branch out of ambassadorships. The first big celebrity fragrance was Brittney Spears’ first fragrance called Curious in 2004. It was a hit and a great partnership between Spears and the beauty company, Elizabeth Arden. This key moment is where you see more celebrities come out with fragrances. Beyonce, Rihanna, and Justin Bieber later came out with their own lines for their audience. Bieber’s ‘Someday’ fragrance that came out in 2011 broke the sales record (once led by Beyonce’s Heat) with over $3 million in retail sales in less than three weeks according to Women’s Wear Daily.

The 2010s dominates the scene

We have seen the rise of celebrity-focused beauty brands. One of the first on the scene was Kat Von D Beauty with then-partnership with Sephora brands (later turned into Kendo Brands). Kat Von D was a conversational figure in the industry with her tattoos, tv show, and past relationship with Jessie James (ex-husband to Sandra Bullock). She was outspoken against animal testing, for veganism and reported to be anti-vax due to her comments about vaccinating her unborn child. In 2019, she has removed herself from the brand and her former beauty brand is now called KVD Beauty.

It is interesting because Kat Von D was one of the early people we coin as an ‘influencer’. She was not a big star like Beyonce and Rihanna. Before Instagram, there was TV. Being an on-air personality (like Paris Hilton) got you far.

The jump we see today follows the introduction to Fenty Beauty by Rihanna. Started in 2017, Rihanna took the world by storm with her new makeup line. The idea of a celebrity-beauty line may not be new. A few examples of a cosmetic line created like Iman Cosmetics in 1994 by the supermodel, Iman and Fashion Fair Cosmetics created by the Johnsons who owned Ebony and Jet. Rihanna is one of the modern examples of how a celebrity can get a luxury backing for her brand. To understand more, read this short case study on how Rihanna’s Reign took work and dedication.

Haus Labs by Lady Gaga

The future of the 2020’s

We can only guess about the future of the beauty industry. I will leave that to the trend forecasters. I foresee a rise in celebrity beauty brands in the first few years. For example, Lady Gaga has launched her makeup line at the end of the ’10s. Selena Gomez is about to launch Rare Beauty at Sephora this summer.

I see a fall of some beauty brands by the end of the decade after the hype falls. The reason being that some of the brands that are launching do not match the brand identity of the celebrity. This meaning — they are not known for what they are selling. For example, Tracee Ellis Ross is known for her natural hair. Her hair + her brand = Pattern Beauty. I honestly think Rihanna has some of the ladies in the industry considering their plans for generational wealth. What do you see for the future?


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