[unpaid/samples/affiliate/ad] I was at the launch event for UK Sephora last night so I thought I’d just take you through some of my thoughts and yes, I’ve done a bit of an about turn from not caring at all about it launching after all the will-they, won’t-they carry on to thinking that actually, this is a high street injection that beauty consumers need. Hear me out!
For a start, they are bringing over some brands that are hard to get in the UK and the One/Size brand that I was so impressed with in Italy (or was it Spain?) is one of them – and it turns out to be Patrick Starr’s brand and how I missed that I’ll never know! I want to look into this a bit further because I wonder if LVMH (who owns Sephora) has a special interest in it, either financially or speculatively. Make Up For Ever is back after its hasty retreat when the department stores started to close, and Make Up By Mario gets a much wider exposure to the UK market. Laneige had a big presence, as did Innisfree, and Refy has currently only been available in Selfridges. You know, there is a lot of politicking behind the scenes and having felt so meh about the launch, I can see that it is going to be very stiff competition for the likes of SpaceNK and I’ll explain why. Sephora is bringing a lot of colour, a huge amount of energy and an even bigger budget to this so failure is not an option. Sephora has a playground feel while I hardly dare touch anything on the rare occasions I’m in, say, SpaceNK. If they decide on a flagship space, it will be big and you can wander without being pounced on. It’s the opposite of the brand shops that have popped up all over the place where, if you don’t want personal service, the atmosphere can feel intimidating.
Sephora has a huge own brand inventory and they can follow trends swiftly – good examples are the ‘natural origin’ products you can see above – and they can make whatever they want happen under their own label. So, from big trends such as vegan and natural to micro trends such as green eye shadows they’re not reliant on other brands to bring them in, they can do it themselves. In general beauty circles, there was a feeling of being underwhelmed at its arrival to the same about turn that I’ve made after the launch and realising that Sephora means business.
I feel keen for stores to open and salvage the high street somewhat – Sephora isn’t the same as Boots or Superdrug, it’s far more of a beauty department store without the aggressive sales. After the past few years, it’s something to raise you off your seat and actually go shopping rather than rely on on-line which is great but not nearly as fun. Although anyone who has been the Paris flagship will know that the crush can make it anything but fun! But, I still used to get a buzz from just being there. So, I feel that Sephora will revitalize not only the places that it lands but also our unused-for-too-long curiosity and urge to browse. One of the things that Sephora has always been good at is exclusives – they’re powerful enough to demand special collections from brands such as Gucci that are only available at Sephora and that must be concerning the beauty buyers. Unless something goes drastically wrong, expect some massive shifts in the market over the next few years – THG has much to worry about as Cult is probably the most direct competition, and it’s all to play for on the high street.
I hadn’t particularly wanted to go to be honest but now I am super glad I did – this was a big scale launch that gave a full overview of what’s to come – and I had fun with friends Navaz at DisneyRollerGirl and make-up artists Kenneth Soh and Caroline Barnes, amongst others. A launch isn’t what influences you (or shouldn’t be) to favour brands but it can tell you quite a lot about intention and purpose – from what I’ve seen, they’re here to change everything. Start with Glow Recipe HERE and work your way around the site – there is a LOT!
All products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.
The “not being pounced on” thing is so appealing. I always hated Mary Portas’ advice to retailers that they should immediately engage with the customer as they enter the shop. It’s pressurising. I love beauty but I’ve only been in our space NK once in about 5 years and I never go in Lush. Just let us browse!
Literally leave us alone and let us shop!
I remember my total excitement when I stumbled across Sephora in the Champs Elysee in 1996 not knowing anything about it.
Giddy with joy that day…..
oh wow – I can imagine the excitement. I remember being in Paris in a hotel where the bedroom looked out over a Sephora and I could not have asked for a better view!
That’s my kind of hotel!!!!
For those of us who do not live on the UK mainland, the website will be the thing for us.
I noticed brands that before only sold on QVC UK, such as Tarte with the full line available from Sephora UK.
Yes, Tarte had a strong presence – I’ve got a palette to review so I’m looking forward to that. x
Disappointing that they don’t sell Doll10 though, I love that brand and can only get it on QVC which is fine, but would like to see more of the products
I used to love Doll 10!
The HydraGel Concealer is excellent. A small amount can cover your whole face for those days when you can’t be bothered to put a lot of make up on and are only going out locally. Mind you Gatineau Perfection Ultime Miracle eye contour cream is the same, ignoring the word eye, a small amount across your face and you are done. QVC do some excellent deals of the larger 30ml size for the same price as the normal size of 11ml. I always have that in my make up bag.
Thanks for the recommendations Rachel!
The few times I go into a Space NK – agree that they feel a bit unfriendly – they don’t have the item in stock. This happens more often than not.
I’m really looking forward to a big Sephora in London. When I stayed in New York for work a few years ago I practically lived in the Broadway Sephora!
Westfield keeps being mentioned but I’m not sure it’s their final destination – it may be as a pop up initially and then they find another location. Not sure on that one yet.
I expect they have a tie-in with Westfield as the Westfield in Barcelona also has Sephora.
yes, Westfield seems to be the top choice x
Ahhh it was so much fun last night! Same as you, I need a store that I can browse in without being harassed. The beauty high street is going to be very different next year when Sephora opens its actual store. I’m imagining it will be like the heyday of Topshop, but for beauty.
Apparently there will be four stores, Manchester, London, Birmingham and Glasgow.
Yasss delighted to hear Glasgow made the cut. Not so delighted for my bank balance!
Haha.. yes, a mixed blessing 😉
One of my favourite things about NY was going to Sephora, I was staggered the first time I went in.
Exactly! It has been gasp making in the past – not sure it’s quite at that level any more but I know that feeling!
Last time I went into a Sephora was when my husband and I went to Vegas to get married years ago! Before that, I used to live in North London and often went to the Sephora at Brent Cross. Was sad when that went. Was a bit cross when they stopped shipping stuff to the UK though. Might forgive them if they open a shop in Brighton at some point. My nearest one would be London. I keep hearing Westfield too. Nadine Baggott said Westfield the other day. I’d like to try that lip balm thing from Mario. Emma x
It’s Manchester, London, Glasgow and grrr.. forgotten the other one! NOt Brighton though 🙁
I have shopped at Sephora ever since its humble beginnings as a discount cosmetics shop at Les Halles in Paris in the 80s (I studied there and spent a good ten years in the process).
Since then, the highlight of every trip to the US (or even back home in Greece), has been the traditional trip(s) to Sephora.
In my opinion, its dominance is unavoidable -etailers and retailers need to adjust their policies accordingly.
Yes, I think its arrival has got beauty retailers worried.
The online offering is really something at the moment too. About 15 hours from order to delivery and currently 15% off using the app, plus 10% of two brands of your choice for six months.
wow! thanks for the head’s up!
I saw something you did on Instagram about this and, like you, I was a bit underwhelmed. We had been here before with Brent Cross, which never really had the pizazz of the US stores nor the fun of the European stores. But with the high street in dire straits AND what can only be described as the dismal presentation and offer at Boots, perhaps this is finally the time for a shake up!
I just hope that the Manc store is City Centre rather than the Trafford Centre. Oh and they are missing a trick if they don’t get a store in Liverpool One!
Here’s hoping for news on exact locations soon….
I also wondered why they hadn’t chosen Liverpool! It’s such a strong place for cosmetic sales.
Thank you so much for telling us about Sephora. It’ll have to be browsing online for me but I have fond memories of browsing in France where Sephora was everywhere. I look forward very much to hearing here or on YouTube about products that you, Nadine Bagott and Caroline Barnes love or hate!