Plan De Ville, The E-Tailer Showcasing Emerging Fashion Talent, Branches Into Beauty
Fashion e-tailer Plan de Ville is translating its concept of championing rising designers to beauty with the launch of PDV Beauté.
A section on the website, PDV Beauté is starting with the clean beauty brands Gloss Moderne, Naturally by Stevi Christine, Immunocologie and Troos Skincare + Apothecary. Expected to expand with more brands and products such as devices and lipsticks, its debut selection casts Plan de Ville as a beauty destination for shoppers hunting for hero releases from companies bursting onto the beauty scene with considered offerings.
“The business is positioned at the very beginning of the life cycle for new emerging luxury brands. From a customer perspective, we exist to tell her who she can trust when it comes to her dollar,” says Catherine Smith, founder and CEO of Plan de Ville. “I have always taken a customer-centric perspective on what we do, and beauty was something added to the site because people were asking us for it.”
Instead of drawing customers with trendy or season-specific items (Smith will shy away from selling a coral lip color simply because it’s touted for spring), Plan de Ville tries to retain customers by cultivating relationships between them and brands in its assortment. It does so through social media posts providing insight into the people behind products, interviews with brand owners on its site and deft curation of merchandise from entrepreneurs with affinities for customer interactions.
“Women who shop with us want something from up-and-coming designers’ early collections. It’s more about a sense of connection to the designer or the beauty entrepreneur rather than needing to have the newest Gucci piece,” says Smith. “We have a lot of clients in the art industry, and they understand buying an art piece from an emerging artist, and they have a similar motivation when they shop with us.”
“Women who shop with us want something from up-and-coming designers’ early collections. It’s more about a sense of connection to the designer or the beauty entrepreneur rather than needing to have the newest Gucci piece.”
A typical customer is an established professional woman in her 30s to 50s spending an average of $565 on a Plan de Ville purchase of a single stockkeeping unit and living in New York or Los Angeles, although the site does have a presence in the middle of the country. Smith figures she doesn’t have excess minutes to scour magazines or Instagram to uncover budding designers, so turns to Plan de Ville to do it for her.
“When she’s complimented on her dress, she finds value in saying, ‘Thank you, it’s from this great designer who just graduated from Parsons, and it’s made in New York,’ versus it being from a luxury brand that’s available in every Neiman Marcus,” says Smith. “She’s looking for something truly under the radar, and that’s what we do.”
Like Plan de Ville’s accessory and clothing brands, PDV Beauté’s beauty brands are under the radar, but their prices don’t reach the heights of their fashion corollaries. Retailing for $195, Immunocologie’s Hyaluronic Serum and Oxygen Treatment Crème are the priciest PDV Beauté products. Naturally by Stevi Christine’s Eyebrow Filler is $24, and Gloss Moderne’s Clean Luxury Shampoo is $48. The relatively cheaper prices of beauty products could attract younger customers to Plan de Ville that don’t have the disposable income of the generation X, baby boomer and older millennial shoppers snapping up the site’s accessories and apparel.
“Beauty is the perfect way to welcome new people to the site and say, ‘We absolutely have something for you,’” says Smith, elaborating, “It’s a recruitment strategy to bring down the psychological barrier that comes with thinking everything on Plan de Ville is too expensive. We do have a range of price points on the site, but what I find is that people are nervous to peek around because they think everything is $500. Our pricing is thoughtful, but the first-time customer still feels anxious.”
“I have great respect for the beauty industry and think beauty could definitely grow to become a major part of our portfolio. To me, it’s really a strategy to say, ‘We have more than what you think of us for.’”
To identify brands for Plan de Ville, Smith pores over Instagram accounts. She discovered Tross and Gloss Moderne on the social media platform. She ran across Immuncologie at the New York pharmacy and apothecary Clyde’s, where the brand was recommended to her to address the unfortunate aftermath of a cortisone shot she received for cystic acne. Smith reports, “It ended up completely healing that area.”
Plan de Ville picks up beauty brands’ minimum order quantities to launch them into its repertoire. The site both holds inventory and uses drop-shipping, depending on the maturity and infrastrucure of a brand. Referring to Naturally by Stevi Christine, Smith explains, “If you just started your eyebrow product line, and you’re busy running around LA as a makeup artist, you don’t have time to ship. We can add value to your business by being a support and making sure every customer buying the product is going to have a great experience with it.”
As a small startup, four-year-old Plan de Ville has the flexibility to work out different wholesale arrangements that make sense for the brands it carries. It also has the flexibility to shift and build PDV Beauté in response to customer demand. “We can be nimble and listen to our customers to give her more of what she wants and less of what she doesn’t,” says Smith. “I have great respect for the beauty industry and think beauty could definitely grow to become a major part of our portfolio. To me, it’s really a strategy to say, ‘We have more than what you think of us for.’”
Feature photo credit: Lydia Hudgens