If you’ve been living under a rock these past few days (or simply don’t spend your time immersed in the Instagram accounts of the beauty elite like me,) then you may not have noticed that there has been a war of words erupting from the camp of Kat Von D against brands that, in her words, ‘ride her coattails’. It started when Kat, the creative mind behind her self-named super-stellar makeup brand, shared this Instagram image comparing her ‘Shade & Light’ palette to that of Makeup Revolution’s ‘Light & Shade palette’ – which is without a doubt somewhat more than ‘inspired’ by her original. Rather interestingly the response was somewhat split, with Kat’s committed fans running to her defense and posting supportive messages, while many others stepped in to express their confusion as to why this was even wrong. In order to express her point of view further, Kat then uploaded a video to YouTube which explained her frustration and disappointment while giving viewers an insight into her development and creative process. (Worth a watch here if you have time!)
For me this was the cherry on top of a cake that’s been cooking for
some time, with increasing amount of conversation being driven by the
relentless copycatting and piggybacking that seems to be saturating the
industry; Beauty By The Bunny wrote an interesting piece on why she personally felt Makeup Revolution had gone too far; I even documented my thoughts in a previous post
that I was bored of the constant duping that was stifling innovation
and wanted to see more creativity in 2017. Duping has never been more
prevalent than it is now, but is it fundamentally wrong as many are
pointing out, or simply just part and parcel of an industry that’s
focused on always launching something new? To help you make your own
mind up, there are a few issues worth first considering.
THIS IS NOT ABOUT MAKEUP ELITISM
seen many comments on social media that have made this debate all about
makeup elitism and an invisible barrier between those that can afford
high end beauty products, and those that can’t. From my point of view
this issue has nothing to do with high end versus budget, because there
are so many budget brands available that don’t dupe, don’t copy and
focus their efforts on creating the best cosmetics they can – including
those that push the boundaries and offer consumers something just as
exciting as a Tarte Cosmetics palette. (Barry M, Collection, 3ina, Kiko are just some of the brands hitting it out of the park when it comes to affordable makeup.) Copying another brand is not necessary; copying another brand is an active choice. Buying a dupe is not your only option; buying a dupe is an active choice.
THE MAKEUP INDUSTRY IS VERY DIFFERENT TO FASHION
in fashion, where the designs are usually the brainchild of one person
(or a small group of genuinely talented individuals,) the beauty
industry is predominately run from a handful of factories across the
globe. Many of these factories actually develop and own the technology
themselves, licensing out the concept to the highest bidder for usually
6-24 months; when this period is up then other brands can use it, which
is why you often see a snowball effect where all the brands are falling
over themselves to offer their own version of something new. Very few brands (Kat Von D being one of them) actually have an individual at the helm who is creatively involved in developing products and ensuring their vision comes to life; the majority are massive corporations who launch their cosmetics on license and don’t actually own any of the innovation themselves.
NO IDEA IS EVER ORIGINAL
Jane from British Beauty Blogger recently hosted a fascinating Facebook Live
where she discussed and illustrated how brands are constantly copying,
being inspired and nodding back to products launched years (sometimes
even decades) previously. Put simply, no idea is ever original – it’s always been done before in some way or another, which is unsurprising seeing as we’ve been developing mass market cosmetics for the best part of a century. Many brands coincidentally launch very similar concepts at the same time, often inspired by trends or what’s going on in Asian markets, because there’s only so far you can go with makeup whilst ensuring it remains useable. You can’t trademark the order of nude eyeshadows for good reason.
DUPES TARGET A VERY DIFFERENT MARKET
far as the argument around ‘cannibalizing’ sales of more premium brands
goes, generally speaking those investing into high end cosmetics and
those preferring to buy into their dupe counterparts are two very
different consumers. Yes, the majority of us dabble in a bit of this and
a bit of that, but a Kat Von D customer is very different from a Makeup
Revolution customer because they have very different expectations of
their cosmetics. Personally I really don’t think Charlotte Tilbury is sobbing into her decaf almond sugar-free latte that someone has copied her packaging and is making a quick buck off the back of her brand; she’s laughing all the way to the bank and focusing on her next big launch. There’s plenty of money (and consumers) to go around, and each brand provides them with something different.
So what of my opinion? I’ve been mulling over this for some time and I’m still not 100% decided. There are so many issues that go into understanding the business of beauty (and moreover the dupe market) because it’s so fluid. I’m definitely of the mindset that no idea is ever truly original and that dupes provide an accessible way into the beauty market for many; however, it’s about your own personal opinion and preference. I’m all for consumer choice and dupes do provide that, but for me when every element of the original is copied (including packaging, colour scheme and name) that’s when it’s gone a step too far. Be inspired, put your own stamp on it and offer something you know your customers will love – but don’t be lazy, cheap or nasty.
Makeup Revolution themselves have responded saying: “dupes are a
recognised and celebrated part of the fashion and beauty industry, and
consumers love them; we never knowingly infringe any design copyright or
patent.” They’ve made their entire business from the ability to provide affordable makeup and bring new ideas to life fast, but I personally think they’ve lost sight of why they were so popular in the first place and have been focusing on duping everything under the sun just to make a quick buck. I loved them at the beginning when they offered super affordable bits and bobs that you could justify picking up on your lunchbreak, but recently I’ve fallen out of love with them as a brand that is seriously lacking some decent innovation. Dupes will only get you so far and in 2017 I seriously think we’re all going to be looking for something a little more substantial. They’ll never disappear completely, but we’re now in a position to demand more from our makeup – no matter how much we pay for it.
What is your opinion on dupes, the Kat Von D drama and Makeup Revolution as a brand?
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