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Chanel leans into men’s makeup movement

Boy de Chanel makeup Chanel shared beauty tutorials aimed for men. Image credit: Chanel


French fashion label Chanel is launching its first makeup products for men globally as more luxury cosmetic companies cater to male consumers.

While men have always been able to purchase cosmetics and skincare products, most luxury brands dedicate their personal care resources to female consumers. By appealing to men beyond masculine fragrances, Chanel can reach a new market and present a forward-thinking identity.

"Brands like Covergirl and Maybelline have already marketed toward male consumers, so with Chanel following, it becomes more than just a simple trend of marketing makeup toward men,” said Romey Louangvilay, communications director at ELMNTL, New York. “It's a movement in which people who were perviously ignored or disregarded, referring to gender-fluid consumers and men who always preferred wearing makeup, are finally being spoken to by big brands.

“In addition, Chanel's direction with their male makeup line shows younger consumers, who will control the majority of the buying power, that [the brand is] listening and not tone deaf to what's going on in the world,” he said.

Mr. Louangvilay is not affiliated with Chanel, but agreed to comment as an industry expert. Chanel was reached for comment.

Boy de makeup
Men wearing makeup is already becoming more commonplace in Asia, where Chanel’s makeup line was first introduced.

The new makeup collection is under the Boy de Chanel moniker, named for Gabrielle Chanel's lover Boy Capel. It launched in South Korea on Sept. 1, before branding out to ecommerce this month, where everyone can purchase (see story).

“Chanel said it best when they mentioned that makeup isn't about gender, it's about style,” Mr. Louangvilay said.

Boy de Chanel makeup

Boy de Chanel makeup includes three products. Image credit: Chanel

Boy de Chanel makeup includes a sheer coverage foundation, an eyebrow pencil and a matte lip balm. The midnight blue packaging is minimalistic without being overtly masculine.

The makeup line has also expanded its shade range since its original launch in South Korea. The foundation now comes in eight shades instead of four, while the pencil is offered in four shades, including gray for older men.

Chanel is also marketing gender-neutral skincare products on its Boy de Chanel landing page, including cleansing cream, serum and sunscreen.

For men who are more unfamiliar with makeup applications, Chanel is also sharing tutorials on how to apply foundation and fill in brows.

Similar to YouTube tutorials, the brief videos explain the simple techniques men can use with their new products and even include captions for each step. The emphasis is on enhancing men's natural appearance.

Men are also encouraged to finish their look with Bleu de Chanel cologne.

“While male YouTube stars and male beauty influencers populate the social media landscape today, gender stereotypes continue to persist in our culture and, in turn, within the beauty industry,” said Gina Delio, partner and CCO at Tag Creative. “It’s a powerful statement by Chanel to create a line of cosmetics targeted at men because it suggests that beauty transcends gender codes.”

Makeup for others
While the launch of Boy de Chanel is notable, the house is not the only luxury brand that has introduced cosmetics geared for male and gender-fluid consumers.

U.S. fashion brand Tom Ford launched a grooming line, Tom Ford for Men, in fall 2013. The line includes soaps, concealer, brow definer and a wide range of skincare products.

More recently, Crème de la Mer created a series of content for the audience of Mr Porter to gain visibility for its men’s skincare line.

Mr Porter shared journal entries that detail the routines of personalities such as New York maître d’ Alireza Niroomand, in which the men use La Mer skincare. Hoping to inspire viewers and readers to introduce La Mer into their routine, Mr. Niroomand describes why he likes each product (see story).

LVMH’s Sephora is taking a more tangible approach to support the transgender community with special beauty classes.

Known for its inclusion and openness to the LGBTQ community as well as diversity as a whole, Sephora is taking steps to help transgender individuals gain confidence. As part of its Sephora Stands program, 90-minute classes will be offered for non-binary and transgender customers to learn various techniques to help them discover their own idea of beauty and confidence (see story).

“If you're gender fluid, or someone who also happens to enjoy wearing makeup, this is not a trend,” Mr. Louangvilay said. “This might be a trend for mass marketers with little exposure to these minority groups, but perceiving makeup as gender neutral has been a thing for several years, especially in the queer people of color community.

“Like any trend, minority groups and/or groups of people who don't quite have a loud and vocal platform usually discover something or are more willing to experiment start it,” he said. “Then someone with a bigger platform brings more light to it, and the masses catch on.”