In early June, the Internet exploded with the news that former boyband legend and current musical/style icon Harry Styles might be launching his own beauty brand. Supposedly, “Styles, Harry Edward” registered a patented name for the purpose of “wholesale of perfume and cosmetics” with the UK’s companies registrar. Fans of Mr.Styles were, obviously, thrilled by the possibility that they might be able to smell like their favorite celebrity. I, however, was a little conflicted.
There’s been a recent epidemic in celebrity brand launches. Lately, it feels like every reality TV personality or former Disney star is suddenly obsessed with dropping clothing lines, makeup products, or skincare companies. And they continue to pop up on social media without warning. I mean, I love Harry Styles, but is he really qualified to be the face and name of a beauty brand? Moreover, are most celebrities really qualified to be brand owners? Does a celebrity using their wealth and connections to launch a full-scale company overnight step on the toes of smaller creators who have to build their brands from nothing? It can be fun to see a product with your fave celebrity’s name attached to it. But, is it really “cool” when celebs launch their own brands and products?
The A-List Brands
There’s a ton that comes to mind when I think of celebrity brands that have been in my social sphere. The earliest “celebrity brand” that I remember taking over social media is the first big celeb makeup brand, Kylie Cosmetics. Soon after, Rhianna followed with Fenty Beauty, and later, her Savage x Fenty lingerie and loungewear line. There’s Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty, Beyonce’s Ivy Park, Kate Hudson’s Fabletics line….and a countless number more. Most recently, Kendall Jenner announced the release of her very own tequila brand, 818 Tequila. She claims to have tested and developed herself.
What makes me question these brands is just that. Celebrities claim to have coined the ideas for these brand launches on their own, participated in the product design and sourcing, etc. Now I can’t claim to know whether or not that’s a fact or not. But when a celebrity who, for example, has only ever been known for starring on a reality TV show launches her own makeup brand (*cough cough Kylie Jenner*) it does raise some suspicions. And, consider creators who have to actually build their businesses without the backing resources of an A-list celebrity. It’s hard not to resent the famous when they launch multi-million dollar companies out of nowhere.
Putting In the Work
Often, it seems like the likability of the brand has to do with the likability of the celebrity. Even more, it has to do with their ability to relate to their market audiences. Take Fenty Beauty, and Savage x Fenty, for example. Rhianna is a widely loved celebrity, so her brand launches were a total success. And, I’m absolutely obsessed with Rhianna’s beauty brand particularly. All of her makeup products are of fantastic quality. It not only has to do with the fact that I love Rhianna as a celebrity presence. It feels like a lot of work (regardless of whether or not she actually did the work) went into the products.
This also goes for Kylie Jenner and her famed Kylie Cosmetics lip kits. I’ll admit, I purchased them because, in high school, I did sort of idolize the Kardashians. And, the product worked well. It seemed like Kylie, or at least her PR team was extremely passionate about the products.
The “Celebrity Brand” Problem
One issue that celebrities face when launching brands is disconnecting from the brand’s “celebrity” label. Usually, when you think of a brand or product, the first thing that comes to mind is the product itself, not the face attached to it.
But, I honestly struggle to think of a single celebrity brand that I don’t fully associate with the famous person behind the scenes. Kylie Cosmetics, for example, was never really a “makeup brand.” It was Kylie’s makeup brand, and that was what made it famous during its heyday. And, that’s the same reason that it doesn’t retain the popularity in the makeup community that it once did. Although Kylie Jenner is obviously still relevant, she doesn’t rule social media in the way that she did in 2017 when her brand launched. And, since her makeup products don’t stand alone as a brand, they similarly have faded into the void a bit.
So if Harry really does start a beauty brand, it’ll be interesting to see how it goes. Will it be a successful and useful product? Will people like it because it’s good, or just because it’s attached to Harry? Ultimately, celebrity brands are “cool” if the celebrity themself are cool at the moment. So, as long as Harry Styles retains his current popularity, his beauty brand will likely be a smash hit. However, it’s hard to ignore the reality of celebrity-launched beauty brands in comparison to small businesses that don’t have the same resources. But, with a less cynical outlook, it’s also true that many celebrities worked hard for the resources that allow them to launch brands overnight. So, I guess it’s up to you to decide. Are celebrity brands are the result of hard work, or simply a resource-based money-making scheme?
Featured Image from Ahmet Yalçınkaya on Unsplash.com