Fashion Entrepreneurship Trend: Designer Lipstick Sales on the Rise

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Tom Ford, the fashion entrepreneur and visionary who revitalized Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, launched his own line of cosmetics at Bergdorf Goodman recently. A very long line of admirers were patiently waiting for him to sign their recently-bought cosmetics from Tom Ford Beauty. One such fan is Poonam Billing, a 24-year-old Parsons student who spent $300 that day on Ford cosmetics. She admits that the prices are very high, yet she splurges on them not only because she loves cosmetics, but also because she is buying products made by someone she looks up to. She ordered some cosmetics online, yet she is willing to go to the store in person to meet Tom Ford.

Based on Ms. Billing’s buying motivation, some of the factors that drive up designer lipstick sales are customer service and personal attention from the designer. At Bergdorf, the much-acclaimed designer who transformed Gucci and Yves St Laurent into sensual brands was dressed flawlessly. Mr. Ford sat in the center of the stage, as fans wait for their turn to have their merchandise signed by the popular designer.

Kathleen Mukamal, mother of stylist Andrew Mukamal, was also waiting in line and clutching a white and golden tube of lipstick called Scarlet Rouge, which set her back for $48. She was persuaded to buy by the Ford cosmetics salespeople, but she purposely went to the store to purchase a Tom Ford red lipstick, which was repeatedly mentioned in the fashion magazines she subscribes to. Many of the fashion magazines have advertised Tom Ford red lipstick as the red lipstick to be wearing. Ingenious marketing, branding and advertising strategy are other factors contributing to the increase in sales of designer lipsticks. Introducing an expensive tube as the next “in” thing appeals to fashion conscious consumers.


High-End Fashion Entrepreneurs and Their Lipsticks

Other designer lipsticks from big brands such as Dior, Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana to small independent fashion entrepreneurs such as Ellis Faas and Edwards Bess sell for $30 or more, which Guerlain selling lipsticks for $40. Kanebo Sensai Collection’s The Lipstick and La Prairie Cellular Lip Color retail for $55, the cost of the latter being due to the farm-raised caviar extract it contains.

Even more expensive is the $60 product of Shiseido’s Clé de Peau Beauté, appropriately called Extra Rich Lipstick. Gisela Ballard of Clé de Peau Beauté explains that their brand is mainly a skin care brand and their makeup includes skin care technology, and this adds to the cost of their makeup, specifically their lipstick line. Their Extra Rich Lipstick contains costly ingredient Vitamin A acetate, which is a form of retinol that fights the formation of vertical lines in the lips that signal aging. Aside from the costly ingredient, the color of the lipstick adds to the cost too. Even the shape and angle of the lipstick, which is designed with a sloping oval angle so that the contour of the lips can be follow exactly, contributes to the high cost as well.


Recession and Effects on Sale of Designer Lipsticks

Ten years ago, Leonard Launder, chairman of Estee Lauder at that time, observed that it is during recession that women swarm cosmetic counters to purchase their favorite brand. He also mentioned that when sales of lipsticks are up, less people want to purchase dresses.

Today, despite the recession, the sales of designer lipsticks and luxury cosmetics have gone up. According to NPD Group, a company specializing on market research, sale of luxury beauty products in the United States reached $2.5 billion from the period of January to September 2011, and this is a significant increase from last year’s $ 2.275 billion. High-end perfumes and cosmetics are some of the fastest growing markets in the fashion industry. Many consider these “practical luxuries”–an oxymoron that can also explain consumer’s penchant for luxury products, in spite of economic hardships.

There are many theories these designer and luxury brands are popular. One of the reasons is: owning designer lipsticks makes the wearer part of an elite, cool group. Others say that women would rather buy lipstick than dresses when they had to choose. Karen Grant, a senior global analyst for the beauty industry and working for NPD Group, contends that the recession are influencing women to buy less items, yet they are splurging on high-end products because the brands matter to them and make them feel good. In this case, the women are being pragmatic by lowering the quantity of the items they buy; yet splurging on the quality and status the designer brands confer to the owner.

Kimberly is a researcher, writer, business woman, and contributor at blog network.  She may be reached at


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Kimberly Danek

After years in the corporate world, working for JP Morgan Chase Bank as a Risk Management Analyst, and Standard Chartered Bank as a Financial Advisor, Kimberly Danek left to pursue a career as a freelance writer. She offers a wide variety of business writing services, from press release and newsletter writing to copywriting and other professional copies for business purposes. Backed with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration, Cum Laude, and years of experience in banking and finance, Kimberly aims to reach out and share her expertise to business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs through quality, easy-to-understand articles void of business and financial jargons. 


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