London’s first-ever Beauty Week took place last week, taking over Covent Garden’s East Piazza with a Beauty Playground filled with brand activations and events. Home of many beauty store flagships, activations could be found everywhere; from sensory ice-cream vans by Weleda and Miller Harris to personalised in-store consultations and talks from beauty insiders. There was even a selfie-worthy metallic London cab advertising Tom Ford’s new collection.
In-store activations included beauty masterclasses in Charlotte Tilbury, Tom Ford, Nars, Chanel and Mac. Fragrance stores also gave customers the chance to indulge in scent with consultations, free samples and exclusive events at Miller Harris, Floral Street, Molton Brown and Aesop.
A competition to find ‘Britain’s Next Big Beauty Brand’ also took place, in collaboration with trend forecaster WGSN, offering start-up beauty companies the chance to win business mentoring from experts, plus a premium retail space.
The week before London Fashion Week, Beauty Week was filled with industry experts, hosting talks from Beauty insiders. The Sustainability discussion was particularly poignant, acknowledging just how much the beauty industry does to damage to the environment and the vast amount of change that needs to happen to rectify this.
At the Sustainability Discussion, David Alpert, founder of IIAA and marine photographer, urged attendees and even fellow panellists to not simply demonise plastic but to look at sustainability as a whole, “Plastics use less energy than glass or aluminium to recycle. We need to think about sustainability from a holistic perspective; the entire lifecycle of a product and not mislead the public with promises.” He reiterated the severity of our current climate, producing a ‘mysterious box’ filled with plastic he had retrieved from a recent trip to one of the most isolated points in the world: the North Pole.
We need to build a culture of consciousness. Look behind the logo and charitable donations, and create a world to which meaningful sustainability should unfold.Anna Teal, Walgreen’s VP
Jayn Sterland of Weleda skincare ended the discussion with, “It’s 50 shades of green. Can we ever do enough?”, in relation to Victoria Beckham’s new conscious line having the hashtag #NotPerfect. All panellists agreed there is necessary innovation needed to create an infrastructure within the industry, which supports sustainable beauty.
With 80% of beauty products being bought in-store, the Tech In Beauty talk emphasised the importance of enhancing the consumer experience. Whether it is enabling smooth and fast transactions or utilising bookings services, the digital/physical journey should aid customers.
Founder of TreatWell, Lopo Champalimaud, sees personalisation and great storytelling as the key to using technology well. He encourages young businesses, “to not be afraid to fail. Last month we trialled 5000 different apps, to see not only what we could learn from the successes, but ones that didn’t work so well as well”. Champalimaud equates the rise in service (22% from 2017-18) to accessibility and personalisation that tech provides.
The first London Beauty Week was educational, fun and the samples were great. Activations revelled in British quirks, perfect for industry insiders and also Covent Garden’s curious tourists. It can only be noted to imagine how this platform could potentially grow to sit alongside Fashion Week, both industries complementary, imaginative and deeply loved by consumers.
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’.