Luxury fashion retailer Moda Operandi is getting into the beauty business with the launch of the brand’s much-anticipated beauty category. Launched January 10, Moda Operandi’s beauty vertical offers a highly selective curation of the best in beauty from 55 established and emerging brands across skincare, fragrance, makeup, haircare, and body care.
Leading the fashion brand’s foray into beauty is Jessica Matlin, who was most recently the Beauty Director of Harper's Bazaar before joining the Moda Operandi team in May 2022. Matlin is currently the co-founder and co-host of the award-winning beauty podcast Fat Mascara, which she launched in 2016 with Jennifer G. Sullivan. Matlin is responsible for bringing Moda Operandi’s unparalleled curation into this expansion, which includes hand-picking the very best brands and products that she describes as “heroes and hidden gems.”
“Every product you will see is chosen deliberately, because it is the best in its category or has something uniquely inspiring to offer. Our edit includes the established and emerging brands that we believe deserve a place in your beauty wardrobe,” said Matlin.
The all-luxury lineup includes brands you know, like La Mer, Tata Harper, and Westman Atelier, as well as some unexpected additions like Isamaya from makeup artist Isamaya Ffrench and body care brands including Sidia and Sangre de Fruta.
Matlin tells BeautyMatter she has a shortlist of brands she wants to add in 2023, especially in fragrance and color. She’ll also be looking at categories like wellness, devices, and nails, but curation will always be at the heart of Moda Operandi’s offerings.
“I don’t want to spend hours in an endless scroll,” says Matlin. “The glut of products and lines is overwhelming for everyone, even a beauty director. Too much of a good thing is, in fact, too much.”
Alongside the best-of-the-best products, Moda Operandi will also offer a number of “exclusive, unprecedented experiences” as another point of differentiation within the beauty space.
“Our exceptional experiences have been very popular with our clients—both those who work with personal shoppers and those who shop on their own—around the holidays,” said Matlin. “We’re thrilled to be offering beauty experiences to our clients year-round, and we’re kicking it off with private appointments with dermatologists like Dr. Macrene Alexiades and Dr. Lara Devgan; a trip to the Blue Lagoon with BL+ skincare; an incredible getaway to Costa Brazil’s new resort, and more.”
Matlin says the brand will be rolling out more experiences at a regular cadence, tapping her wide network of brands and experts to engage their customers and especially their private clients, each of whom stands out for their sizable annual spend, order frequency, and immense loyalty. Moda shoppers can expect to receive a host of special benefits following the launch of beauty, including early access to new brands and limited-edition products, invitations to private events, and bespoke seasonal gifts, with more to be announced later this year.
“The launch of this category will not only increase order frequency and the cart size of existing clients, but also help us reach a new, aspirational customer demographic that shares our appreciation for impeccable curation and storytelling,” said Moda Operandi Chief Executive Officer Jim Gold. “Jessica Matlin’s rich experience in beauty and cultivated relationships with the industry’s most sought-after brands, along with Chief Merchant April Hennig’s business insights and strategic direction, will no doubt help us successfully build the category in the months to come.”
Moda Operandi’s focus on curation is conveniently separate from the clean beauty discourse that dominated the beauty industry over the last few years. There is no special designation for clean beauty in Moda Operandi’s beauty section, which could be a strategic move made out of an abundance of caution in the wake of the class-action lawsuit against Sephora for allegedly misleading customers with the “Clean at Sephora” seal.
“There is no one definition of ‘clean’—we know it varies brand by brand, retailer by retailer,” says Matlin. “At this moment, we’re proud to offer many brands that define themselves as clean and know that this area is of significant importance to our clients.”
Moda Operandi’s beauty offerings lean heavily into the skincare category, but Matlin says consumers can expect to see more investment in color and fragrance throughout this year. Prices start at $18 for bars of soap from Wonder Valley and Santa Maria Novella and go all the way up to $20,000 for a consult with renowned dermatologist Dr. Macrene Alexiades. Matlin says it’s these experiences that will improve the chances of a brand landing on Moda’s shelves.
“I’m looking for product that looks and feels exquisite, but also has a real story behind it,” she says. “I’m also looking for brands that can offer our clients an incredible experience, like Costa Brazil, BL+, and La Bouche Rouge have with their trips and custom products. Creating a beautiful memory is the most exquisite thing we can do for our clients.”
The luxury fashion brand is following in the footsteps of retailers like Farfetch and Shopbop, which both launched beauty verticals in 2022. What sets Moda Operandi apart is the strategic hire of Matlin, a top beauty industry voice and veteran in the space who has always remained ahead of the curve. Moda Operandi’s unique experiences and exclusive offerings (Révérence de Bastien, a nail and foot care brand, and Violette_FR, a color cosmetics brand from makeup artist Violette Surrat, are both sold exclusively at Moda Operandi) are both strong differentiators that might be enough to make Moda the next best luxury beauty destination.
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