Hermès and Supreme Bet on Lipsticks to Boost Sales


COVID-19 has impacted just about every industry, perhaps none more so than the beauty industry. With consumers unable to test products in stores and many unable to reach stores altogether, what does this mean for the state of an industry worth over $500 billion.

After months of donning a fresh face during lockdown consumers are eager to embrace the glamour of the beauty business. However, safety restrictions are making this difficult. Restrictions vary depending on the store but generally samples are very limited and customers must ask staff to apply a tester to a swatch.

Even once consumers have purchased makeup products, wearing masks makes smudging, especially of lipstick, likely.

The term “lipstick index” first came about in 2001 when the beauty industry saw a spike in lipstick sales despite a recession. This is no outlier. Data historically shows an increase in cosmetic sales during times of economic downfall. For example, during the Great Depression sales of cosmetic products increased by almost 25 percent.

The Economist explains the idea behind the “lipstick index”. In challenging times women buy more lipsticks as opposed to any other luxury product because a lipstick is an affordable indulgence.

However, during COVID-19 all bets are off. Lipstick sales are in trouble, falling as much as 25 percent in some channels, according to industry data. Furthermore, according to McKinsey & Company, a COVID-19 recurrence later this year could cause the US beauty industry revenue to drop by up to 35 percent.

Despite these bleak statistics many in the industry are choosing to remain hopeful.

Hermès has announced three new limited edition shades for Fall/Winter 2020 to its lipstick range, Rouge Hermes. The lipstick offering is part of the fashion house’s makeup line which was announced in February of this year and has already proved popular amongst consumers.

Three new pink shades – “Rose Ombré”, “Rose Pommette” and “Rose Nuit” are set to hit Hermès stores worldwide on September 21. The pink hues come in a mix of satin and matte finishes and have been dubbed by beauty onlookers as fall-ready.

Each of the new colors can be added to any Rouge Hermès container in keeping with the house’s promise to make its practices more sustainable.

Additionally, British makeup brand Pat McGrath Labs has announced a collaboration with streetwear brand Supreme.

Pat McGrath x Supreme is set to feature only one shade of deep red lipstick simply named “Supreme” which will be available on the brand’s website later this year. The launch date and price of the lipstick are yet to be confirmed.

The new rich scarlet hue is part of McGrath’s hugely popular MatteTrance matte lipstick line.⁣

The partnership marks Supreme’s first venture into the beauty market. Despite the pandemic, industry critics have predicted that the shade will be an instant sell-out.

Photos courtesy of Hermès and Pat McGrath / Supreme.