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Beauty Brands Shouldn't Make Merch
Stop it with the stuff already!!
Beauty brands won’t stop making merch.
Glossier sells millennial pink sweatshirts. Drunk Elephant sells PVC sandals. Glow Recipe sells an “Always Glowing” tee. Tower 28 sells a branded reusable water bottle. Supergoop! sells a “WEAR SUNSCREEN” tee (for those whose obsession with SPF hasn’t taken over enough of their life) and “sustainable” brand Saie Beauty sells a logo-laden cotton tone (which would need to be used 20,000 times to offset the environmental impact of production, per a study from The Danish Environmental Protection Agency). Cocokind sells a dad hat, as has “minimalist” makeup brand Merit Beauty. The latter’s embroidered tagline reads, “Less Is More;” the subtext reads, “Buy more stuff.”
A couple months ago, industry publication Beauty Independent interviewed me about my stance on the beauty merch boom. You can read their article here. I’m sharing my own short interview in full below, though, because one of my answers — the last one — didn’t make it to print. I guess you could say the sentiment was… unpublishable??
Read on for why companies and customers need to quit it with the whole merch thing!
BEAUTY INDEPENDENT: What do you think brands should be thinking about when it comes to putting out merch?
ME: I think brands should be thinking: Is this merch absolutely necessary to my business model? (If you aren't a business that sells clothing/accessories, the answer is no.) What is the environmental impact of this merch, from production to disposal? Is there some sort of important message emblazoned on this merch, and if so, will its social impact make up for the environmental impact? Does this merch better the world, or just my own business? And in the vast majority of cases, I think the answer will be: No, the world does not need my skincare company's branded merch.
BEAUTY INDEPENDENT: What should consumers think about this merch craze?
ME: Consumers should realize that branded merch is brand marketing that you foot the bill for. Merch essentially acts as a billboard, for the brand specifically and for consumer culture in general. When you wear the merch, you are transformed into a walking advertisement.
BEAUTY INDEPENDENT: If you were a brand, how might you handle it? Where do you think it's headed?
ME: If I were a brand, I would simply decide to not make merch. Unnecessary, cheap, and trend-driven clothing & accessories are quite literally accelerating global warming. The earth absorbs the cost. Sadly though, I suspect the beauty merch movement is headed in the opposite direction. It looks like it's gonna blow up. (And oddly, so does the planet!!!)