Saint New York Is Out To Be A Personal Care Grail Brand For Streetwear Fans
For streetwear fans, there’s a long list of fashion and footwear grail brands, including Supreme, Palace, Neighbourhood, Nike and Adidas. When it comes to personal care brands, though, the list of grail brands hasn’t been written.
“These guys are using the normal cast of characters. They are using the stuff you can buy at Walgreens and CVS,” says Jake McCabe, founding partner at V Magazine, former global creative director at Coty for the Marc Jacobs and Calvin Klein fragrance houses, and chief creative officer at WPP agency SJR. “Milk Makeup, Kylie Cosmetics and Glossier are talking directly to women and girls. Where’s the stuff connecting with guys in a relevant way for today? Saint New York is a reaction to that.”
Saint New York, a new brand from McCabe and Alexandra Moosally, executive director of luxury accessories and ready-to-wear line Figue, aims to provide personal care items as covetable as the latest sneaker drop. It’s launching with a $20 aluminum-free deodorant enclosed in cylindrical packaging that has a custom twistable rubberized plastic base resembling a sneaker sole with tread.
“Saint New York is about giving guys the opportunity to be who they want to be and feel free to express themselves boldly,” says McCabe. “It might be an overused term, but I think it’s about a community for these younger guys and feeling welcome, but still finding something special and unique. It’s about confidence and feeling excited about yourself with no judgement.”
The guy Saint New York is directed at is comfortable with a high-low mix of merchandise. He saves up to purchase an Off-White piece while buying resold sneakers on StockX or GOAT. Saint New York’s appellation is a nod to the duality of its customer’s tastes and the tough-chic sensibility of the streetwear in his wardrobe. It combines elevated saintliness with the urban jungle of New York.
“Milk Makeup, Kylie Cosmetics and Glossier are talking directly to women and girls. Where’s the stuff connecting with guys in a relevant way for today? Saint New York is a reaction to that.”
“There’s something in this duality that isn’t being captured by brands offered to guys today,” says McCabe. “Whereas the newer brands are really about minimal design and high-minded ingredient stories, what differentiates us is we are coming at this as more of a lifestyle brand.”
Saint New York isn’t the only embryonic player sensing streetwear culture is being overlooked in the grooming and personal care space. Estée Lauder and Malin + Goetz recently collaborated with streetwear retailer Kith, and professional surfers and skateboarders Curren Caples, Sean Malto, Jack Freestone and Mikey February have come together to create the brand Kelsen. Residing at the intersection of two growing segments—streetwear and men’s grooming—the brands deemed credible by streetwear aficionados could be poised to be leaders in a nascent, but potentially large, corner of the market.
The idea for Saint New York germinated when McCabe’s sons, 15-year-old Declan and 12-year-old Tenzin, started to become afflicted by pubescent stench and needed a deodorant to combat it. In the available deodorants, McCabe didn’t spot anything that would resonate with them. He also figured deodorant is a good product to kick off a brand because it’s a staple that commands loyalty, is replenished regularly and inserts itself into the routine of the user.
“Deodorant is a top seller, but it’s unloved,” says McCabe. “It’s got ‘odor’ in its name, and I think it can be an afterthought. We want it to be a primary thought, and that’s why we opened up Saint New York with it.”
Pinning down formulation and scent wasn’t easy. Moosally details Saint New York ran 10 scent options by 30 guys to determine a fresh concoction of bergamot, lavender, vanilla, sandalwood, jasmine and amber developed by Givaudan was the best scent for its debut 2.6-oz. deodorant. The deodorant’s hypoallergenic formulation was heavily tested on the pits of Moosally and McCabe, and their friends and family members. McCabe explains it has a greater percentage of fragrance oil than most deodorants to make it last longer.
Saint New York won’t stick to deodorant alone. The brand expects to expand into other products teenage boys and young men crowd their bathrooms with such as body spray and body wash, and eventually move beyond the bathroom to items they’ll tote with them out of the house. Befitting the streetwear business, Saint New York is primed for collaborations as well. McCabe points out its logo—an in-your-face pronouncement of the brand in black and white block letters rather than a precious suggestion of it—isn’t static and can be modified for partnership purposes.
At the outset, Saint New York is selling via a direct-to-consumer model. Moosally and McCabe anticipate it will enter wholesale distribution next year. Before embarking on retail, the co-founders are focused on executing activations and outreach efforts particularly in the New York area. Saint New York is participating in Brooklyn Fashion Week, which runs through Oct. 16, and will soon be throwing a sneaker giveaway.
Moosally and McCabe declined to disclose the investment it took to bring the brand to life or a first-year sales projection. “Up until this point, it’s been self-funded. Obviously, we believe strongly in Saint New York, and we want to have proof of concept, get feedback and learn as we go. Only after that point will we go out to investors,” says Moosally, emphasizing, “We think it’s really important for our customers to see who we are and the authenticity behind the brand.”