Featured image for At Long Last, Glossier Comes To Sephora

At Long Last, Glossier Comes To Sephora

by Chloe Gordon on 07/27/2022 | 3 Minute Read

Direct To Consumer (DTC) brands overtook the world by storm, and social media had plenty to do with it. Brands like Dollar Shave Club, Warby Parker, and Glossier each cut out the middleman while successfully creating cult followings through their online presence. In addition, these upstarts cultivated an easily recognizable visual aesthetic, slashed prices, and showed consumers an alternative that no longer needed massive brands leading the way.  

Yet, while DTC brands seem to have overwhelmed the market, some are quickly backpedaling. Glossier is the latest brand moving away from its digital-first DTC model. Instead, the makeup brand, founded in 2010, has just announced its first-ever retail partnership with Sephora, bringing back the middleman and moving away from a successful ethos.

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Still, a question remains. What does moving into wholesale partners' stores mean for previously DTC brands? Glossier's branding and packaging revolutionized the makeup industry through its overly simple, minimalist design aesthetic. Yet, while the brand focused on building stunning flagship stores and keeping up with rising demand, other brands like ohii and The Ordinary were able to match Glossier's simple yet bubbly aesthetic while also building trust with consumers through traditional retailers like Sephora. 

As someone with a tube of Glossier's Cloud Paint proudly stashed in my makeup drawer, part of the appeal was the exclusivity aspect and the fact that you could only find these products in person if you lived near one of the few in-person shops. But I also loved supporting an independent, inspired brand instead of a colossal corporation. It felt more personal, as if the brand was in tune with the rhythms of its core demographic. Now, I wonder if the brand will be slower or more hesitant to respond to cultural movements and trends. 

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“We are incredibly excited to enter our first-ever retailer partnership with Sephora. They are an iconic, international retailer with an extremely loyal community, and we know our customers want to find us there,” Glossier CEO Kyle Leahy said in a press release. “We share the same customer-centric values and are both deeply grounded in the ever-evolving notion of beauty discovery. This marks a new chapter in our omnichannel strategy, and we can’t wait for all that’s ahead in 2023.” 

Last April, former CEO Emily Weiss stepped down from her role, highlighting that the brand would undergo some monumental internal shifts. But staying relevant in an ever-changing consumer landscape means exploring new avenues, even if it comes with sacrificing your core foundations.

Consumers seem divided in their reasoning for the brand’s shift towards wholesale, with some thinking that accessibility will lead to new releases, more efficient shipping, and increased sales. But they also might be a little too late to the game, and that costs will inevitably rise, and the flagship stores, treasured as beautiful retail experiences, will vanish. 

Of course, Glossier isn’t the first digital-first beauty brand to move into stores; in 2018 Kylie Cosmetics found its way into Ulta, and in 2017 Rihanna’s Fenty products also launched in Sephora. Still, I can't help but feel Glossier might have lost a little of its visionary, independent shine. Yes, I will still repurchase my favorite Cloud Paint, but I'll also keep an eye out for new, creative brands that value innovation, beautiful packaging, and a fiercely indepdant streak.