Some better men’s boutiques are already hip to the grooming game, with dedicated areas offering everything from shaving and sunscreen products to lip balms and beard oil. Seattle men’s store Blackbird eschewed apparel entirely in favor of grooming products and department stores invariably locate their beauty business immediately behind their revolving doors. While there are certainly still some men who think of primping as a primarily feminine pursuit, the return of barber-shop culture, and burgeoning online subscription services like Birchbox prove they can be taught. And there’s still room for growth.
“It’s just as important for men to take care of their skin as it is for women,” explains Erica Russo, Bloomingdale’s fashion director of accessories, fine jewelry and cosmetics. “It’s an area that has not been fully developed yet, so we see lots of opportunity in the future. Some of our top producing items are eye creams/eye serums which points to a focus on anti-aging. It’s not only important to offer grooming/skincare products to the male customer but also to educate him about the benefits of using them. Men need to understand the different needs for their skin.”
With the increased awareness surrounding sunscreen, the summer months are an ideal opportunity to not only include SPF options in an assortment, but to educate customers too. “We are always adding new products to the shop and during the summer; sun protection is one of our most popular categories,” says VP of Birchbox Man, Brad Lande. “We recently launched the Birchbox Man Summer Shop, which features a lineup of grooming favorites that were specially chosen for sun, surf and balmy weather.”
Stag, which has expanded from a single store in Austin to stores in Dallas, Houston and California, does about seven percent of their business in grooming (with spikes around the holidays and Father’s Day). “We sell more sunscreen in summer, for sure. We don’t get too many requests for product with SPF specifically, but many of our products do have SPF built in. There’s so much more information available to men and product lines developed especially for men, that there’s no longer a mystery or stigma about the average guy taking better care of himself,” explains co-founder Steve Shuck.
Adds menswear designer and store owner Steven Alan,“It really sheds another dimension on who we are and what we like. The more we can envelope our space with things that inspire us, the better the experience for the customer.” Shuck agrees, “We try to consider other aspects of our customer’s life aside from just his apparel needs and the grooming category is an important one. We even carry toothbrushes and soap dishes to complement the assortment.”
“Harry Gordon Selfridge was the first to put his beauty department on the ground floor,” adds Blackbird founder Nicole Miller. “Because he understood basic economics: people will always buy soap.”