Beauty and wellness brands have been at the forefront of embracing and championing social trends and change. An expression of an individual, it makes sense that the evolution of genders has become more fluid and celebrated in the wellness realm. We look to see if the new context of male beauty is being explored in retail spaces.
The rise of the gender-inclusive beauty brand is well documented. With 40%, of adults aged 18 to 22 showing interest in gender-neutral beauty products, brands are starting to use male celebrities and influencers to target men’s developing attitudes towards wellness and grooming. Marc Jacobs released products for men as early as 2013, influencer James Charles became the first Cover Boy in 2017 and Troye Sivan is currently working with Glossier and MAC; this is just the start of the rise of non-traditional brand ambassadors.
"There Will Come A Day When People Won’t Gender Makeup"Marc Jacobs
How to bring these values to life in-store becomes apparent, as brand store experiences are generally tailored towards women. Defining how to be inclusive of men and supporting equal exploration is an idea that the grooming, wellness and beauty sectors need to delve into, enticing these burgeoning new tribes.
Building a space that initiates and develops a connection with both men and women may seem like a daunting task, as men and women shop very differently. In our vast experience, we have found men more functional shoppers, while women value emotive interaction. Marrying the opposing shopping habits is an intriguing undertaking we should start to see evolving over the next few years.
Selfridges has introduced a male grooming section on its menswear floor. The space includes foundations, highlighters and concealers with small mirrors for testing. While the products are encouraging an effort to redefine man’s grooming standards, it lacks the experiential lustre found in the women’s beauty hall. It will be interesting to see how this area develops over the coming years as Millennials and Gen Z-ers have a more androgynous approach to beauty.
Gender-neutral brands are upcoming with American brand Fluid now selling makeup ‘for everyone’. Stocked in stores that encourage gender exploration, like Phluid in New York, étaín in Massachusetts and Citizen Vintage in Quebec. The strategically stocked locations all cater to gender-neutral tribes, inclusive of age, sexuality and background.
Beauty store The Abnormal Company caters to a diverse audience in a space that feels neutral, yet engaging. Not overt in style, the stripped-back interiors feel explorative and connect to both genders, in an intriguing almost unfinished look. Inclusive of all, the store feels welcoming of questions, with the male and female consultants offering advice and encouraging exploration. Moreover, the low price-point of the products offers a great start for consumers to test without breaking the bank.
Function brands are captivating male interest, particularly with German beauty making its stamp on honing proven grooming regimes. Known for their quality, care and innovations, it’s no surprise that consumers are drawn to skincare brands like Augustinus Bader, Weleda and Royal Fern.
When it comes to wellness, new initiatives are providing mindful spaces aimed at underserved demographics. Heal Haus in New York, is a wellness studio designed to reduce the stigma around mental health with men of colour. Providing therapy, yoga, meditation, reiki energy healing and various workshops, they focus on the mind and body, also offering CBD-infused facials, acupuncture and massages.
The transition in soft masculinity is less a focus on feminine features and appearances, but the change in attitudes and perspective of men; being confident, fun, bold, emotional and child-like at the same time. Rather than a decline of traditional traits, it’s a hybrid mindset of new values that is inclusive of all.
Throughout Covid-19, the beauty industry has stepped up for its community and will continue to forge forward and reimagine the way we connect, commune and care for each other.
In a time of crisis, brands have a genuine role to play. Brands must show responsibility to their consumers, their employees and communities as they navigate uncertain times. Is a time for collective effort and creativity. It is a time for ‘we’, ‘us’ and ‘our’.