it’s not shopping, it’s research…

by bellab

Handsoaps on the sink

I could (and sometimes do) spend hours wondering about the hallowed beauty halls of London. From Liberty’s cleverly curated modern-day apothecary to Selfridges zeitgeisty edit of cult buys, the big retailers have cottoned on to the fact that we don’t all want to look/smell/feel the same. Difference is key and a diverse crop of niche brands seems to be the way forward. And while high street retailers must surely be fighting every (whitened) tooth and (shellac’d) nail for actual, product-in-bag-sales against the many wonderfully savvy beauty etailers out there with their free shipping and sampling incentives, it’s heartening to see another physical beauty space pop up on London’s radar in the shape of H&Ms sister brand, & Other Stories.

To be honest I just popped in to check out the clothes. I didn’t even know they had beauty (wtf ?? – BAD journalist). I’ve since acquired the official press material from my good friend Disneyrollergirl, though I’d already typed in frantic notes on to my iphone and hipstamatic-ed the whole space with a view to writing this post.

It’s a beautiful light and airy space on the ground floor of the regent street store. It reminds me a bit of Barney’s in the US, but more oh-so-cool Scandi with beautifully packaged brands I’ll admit I’d never heard of that had me frantically googling – enter L:A BRUKET, a range of handmade soaps and spa products from Sweden whose sage, rosemary and lavender salt scrub smelt like the elixir of life, and Wash with Joe, an NYC bath brand extolling the youth-boosting properties of, you guessed it, caffeine. See what they did there?

L:A Bruket scrubs on shelf

& Other Stories skincare

& Other Stories nail paints

But it’s their own-brand ranges I was really impressed with. Ben Gorham, the perfumer behind Byredo, worked up the fragrances for the bath & body line. I love the belfast sink (a concept borrowed from Aesop I’d hazard a guess) where you can sample the line up of pretty hand soaps. Another cute touch is their recycling incentive. Bring your empty bottles and tubs back for a 10% discount on your next purchase. Unlike so many fashion brands who segue into beauty, this feels like much more than an afterthought of ‘quick, let’s bung some branding on these generic body lotions’. It’s the same for their make-up. Lisa Butler, respected international make-up artist, consulted on their cosmetics offering (see the short film below for a taster). There’s a coolly understated-looking line of skincare too, which I can’t vouch for, but if the rest of the concept is anything to go by, it’ll be well thought out, functional and affordable too. Gotta love those swedes.

So if, like me, you missed all this when it debuted at Colette during Paris fashion week (oh, jeez, I must have been handwashing my woolens that day), proceed to the Oxford Circus end of Regent Street poste haste. Or, for all you non-London dwellers, get your virtual fix online here. Oh, and the clothes aren’t too shabby either….