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Estée Lauder Invests in Chinese Fragrance Brand Melt Season

Published December 18, 2023
Published December 18, 2023
Melt Season

Estée Lauder makes its second investment in a Chinese start-up and its first investment in a Chinese fragrance brand, taking a minority stake in Melt Season through its early-stage venture arm New Incubation Ventures. 

WHO: Launched in 2021 by Lishi Ni and owned by Shanghai-based company Verse China, Melt Season is a luxury fragrance that pays homage to China through an approachable modern lens with two collections priced between $180 (1280 RMB) and $135 (980 RMB). The brand launched via a WeChat mini program and has expanded with six brick-and-mortar doors, including locations in Shenzhen, Beijing, Hangzhou, and Shanghai. In 2022, the brand expanded into body care with body lotion, body wash, and hand cream.

New Incubation Ventures (NIV) is the venture and incubation arm of The Estée Lauder Company, partnering with forward-thinking founders to create, fund, and support the best-emerging beauty brands globally. The team confirmed investments in Code Mint,Vyrao, Haeckels, and Faculty, which shuttered in August 2023.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: “Melt Season reflects Chinese emotion, attitude, and vitality in a modern way. We bring together Eastern and Western philosophies with a water-like inclusiveness [and avoid the] superficial use of cultural symbols,” Li told Vogue Business.

“We look to build future engines of growth for the company, and in China, the fragrance category is extremely dynamic and exciting,” says Shana Randhava, Senior Vice President of NIV. She notes that consumers in China use an average of four fragrances, compared to seven in the US. “We see a massive runway to build out a portfolio of brands that could be added to the consumer’s wardrobe and see space for a local player within that.”


  • Estée Lauder took a minority stake in Melt Season through its early-stage venture arm New Incubation Ventures. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. 
  • One Capital and Breeze Capital led the investment, while Palm Capital invested in the brand in an earlier funding round.

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