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Inside Merit Beauty's Fashion Collaboration Strategy

How does a makeup brand stay innovative while remaining authentic and securing repeat sales? Merit Beauty thinks it’s found a solution: collaborating with the fashion community.

“We really continue to tell the same story, and we stay really true to what our North Star is, regardless of what trends are,” Chief Marketing Officer Aila Morin tells Fashionista. “This enables us to tell stories that are a little bit more seasonal, a little bit more fresh, without going away from our main value proposition that we provide for the consumer.”

Along with offering minimalist products for everyday makeup wearers, Merit’s launch back in 2021 also confronted a disconnect Morin noticed between beauty and fashion. The latter’s Instagram accounts felt more “real” compared to the over-edited glam seen on the former’s feeds. Merit endeavored to take a more fashion-like approach to its visual marketing, and its reverence for the industry also brought about collaborations with key players in it: To date, it has worked with the likes of Proenza Schouler, Grace Coddington and — in its newest partnership, announced on Friday — contemporary womenswear label Tove.

The Merit x Tove Signature Bag.

Photo: Courtesy of Merit

Each of these collaborations has largely been the result of “really authentic aesthetic alignment,” Morin notes. Take the Tove partnership: The relationship began back when the London-based label staged its first runway, for Fall 2023, and Merit served as a beauty sponsor. Now, the two will drop the Merit x Tove Signature Bag (which mirrors the minimalist aesthetic championed by both brands with its champagne colorway crafted with vegan silk) and “The Evening Set,” an edit of beauty brand’s existing products (including the Great Skin Serum, Signature Lip Matte in Power, Flush Balm in Beverly Hills and Day Glow in Solstice), curated by Tove’s co-founders, Camille Perry and Holly Wright, on June 26. (The bag ships free with any Merit order of more than $100, and also accompanies every purchase of “The Evening Set,” which is priced at $112.)

Photo: Courtesy of Merit

Merit has invited other fashion brands to put their own spin on the signature bag, which is a gift-with-purchase offer to customers. Back in September of 2023, Proenza Schouler infused its sleek aesthetic into it, swapping classic corduroy for blue-and-black faux leather. Tove’s iteration incorporates new details and more versatility: After having received consumer feedback on its previous bags, Merit embedded a tiny magnet in this version, so that it closes at the top. 

“This is the first time [the Signature Bag] can be a clutch, it can be a purse that you carry or a shoulder bag,” Morin says. “The ability to wear it three ways was really influenced by the way Tove’s clothes can go into multiple different venues and serve a purpose.”

Both Tove and Proenza Schouler’s fresh takes on Merit’s bag highlight the beauty brand’s emphasis on storytelling, while serving as an avenue for repeat sales. “What we see in terms of our consumer base is a collaboration gift with purchase can drive just as well as a new launch in terms of driving revenue and repeat with our consumer because they identify and they’re excited about the story,” Morin says. “Also, we’re finding a way to re-engage with our consumer without constantly having newness.”

Its fashion collaborations extend behind the gift-with-purchase bag, though: Last month, Coddington — Vogue‘s former creative director at-large and one of fashion’s most famous redheads — fronted a campaign for Merit’s newest shade of its Signature Lip lipstick, a satin-finish soft peach aptly named “Ginger.” It highlighted Merit’s multigenerational customer base and fashion community ties.

Photo: Daniel Shea for Merit/Courtesy of Merit

Photo: Courtesy of Merit

Part of Merit’s ongoing strategy is abstaining from the discounting methods so many other direct-to-consumer brands swear by, like flash sales, welcome discounts and influencer codes. “It allows us to give a luxury experience at a less high price point, but it also allows us to storytell and give value in ways outside of discounting,” Morin says. “So to us, a high-value, high-quality gift with purchase is much different than a trinket. And the level of intentionality that we put into our gift with purchases, I think, really fuels the repeat.”

Looking to the future, Merit plans to continue to pursue similar types of “organic” opportunities that cater to its customer base. “As long as we stay true to providing value and intentionality, then they’ll continue to resonate,” Morin asserts. “And I’m excited to have the opportunity to continue to partner with fashion brands and give voice and have our customer discover these amazing brands.”

Both the Merit x Tove Signature Bag and “The Evening Set” will be available for a limited time on tove-studio.com and meritbeauty.com beginning June 26. To sign up for the waitlist, visit here. Scroll through the collaboration’s campaign images below.

Merit x Tove Signature Bag. Photo: Courtesy of Merit

Merit x Tove Signature Bag. Photo: Courtesy of Merit

Merit x Tove Signature Bag. Photo: Courtesy of Merit

Merit x Tove Signature Bag. Photo: Courtesy of Merit

Merit x Tove Signature Bag. Photo: Courtesy of Merit

Merit x Tove Signature Bag. Photo: Courtesy of Merit

Merit x Tove Signature Bag. Photo: Courtesy of Merit

Photo: Courtesy of Merit

Merit x Tove Signature Bag. Photo: Courtesy of Merit

Merit x Tove Signature Bag. Photo: Courtesy of Merit

Merit x Tove Signature Bag. Photo: Courtesy of Merit

Photo: Courtesy of Merit

Merit “The Evening Set.” Photo: Courtesy of Merit

Merit x Tove Signature Bag and “The Evening Set.” Photo: Courtesy of Merit

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Source: Fashionista.com

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