Welcome to our column "Hey, Quick Question," where we investigate seemingly random happenings in the fashion and beauty industries. Enjoy!
Changes are underway at Kim Kardashian West and Kylie Jenner's respective beauty brands, KKW Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, and the seeming abruptness and vagueness behind these impending brand overhauls is spurring quite a few rumors as to what's really going on.
On Tuesday, KKW Beauty posted a message on its social platforms from Kardashian West herself stating that the brand's site will be shutting down on Aug. 1 "so that we can come back to you under a completely new brand with new formulas that are more modern, innovative and packaged in an elevated and sustainable new look." Kardashian West implied that this rebrand is nothing more than a personal desire to create a more intentional, polished KKW Beauty. "I'm excited to continue to develop and expand my product range and for you to finally be able to experience it the way that I have always envisioned," read the statement. Among the "improvements" to be expected are updates to the shopping experience, including a single website that will allow customers to purchase from both KKW Fragrance and KKW Beauty via the same platform.
Prior to the site's shutdown, KKW Beauty's existing inventory is also being sold off at heavily discounted prices, \between 20% to 75% off. While no specific time frame for the rebrand has been announced, Kardashian West ended her message by saying, "I promise we won't be gone for too long."
This announcement came less than a week after Kylie Cosmetics majority owner Coty Inc. announced a relaunch of the brand on July 1, with a focus on "improved clean and vegan formulas" as well as a new website set to debut on July 15. In a move similar to KKW Beauty's streamlined approach, the new Kylie Cosmetics website will also feature Kylie Skin products.
For her part, Jenner issued a press statement similar to Kardashian West's musing about upgraded formulas to better serve consumers: "I'm so proud to relaunch Kylie Cosmetics with all new formulas that are clean and vegan. Innovation has come far in the past few years. When creating this line, it was so important to me to commit to using clean ingredients across the board, but to never sacrifice performance. My new lip kit has eight-hour wear and is so comfortable on the lips, and all my new formulas are amazing. I'm excited for everyone to try the new products."
In announcing the relaunch, Coty Inc. touted new formulas with "strong consumer test results to support [their] efficacy." It's true that the ultra-matte lip kit that launched Jenner's initially mega-successful beauty company in 2015 is far less trendy than it once was, and consumer demand for vegan products is well demonstrated. But is there actually more at play behind the scenes than just an attempt to keep up with evolving industry trends and consumer preferences?
As is often the case with anything involving the KarJenners, the news of these dual relaunches quickly became the subject of speculation and rumors. People on Twitter guessed that perhaps Kardashian West would be renaming her brand to drop the "W" after filing for divorce from Kanye West. But that notion was put to rest by WWD, which reported that KKW Beauty's rename has nothing to do with those initials. Quoting a statement from an anonymous "source close to Kardashian West," the publication shared, "Kim is still Kim Kardashian West and has not changed her legal name. Kanye actually helped Kim come up with the new name and the packaging. The innovative formulas and even the shopping experience of being able to shop all categories in beauty and cosmetics under one brand, one website has always been Kim's vision from the beginning."
But there is also speculation that these seemingly sudden rebrands are in response to legal troubles. In June of 2020, Forbes reported that Seed Beauty, the company that manufactures products for both KKW Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, had filed a lawsuit in California against Coty Inc., the majority owner of Kylie Cosmetics and a 20% minority owner of KKW Beauty. "According to the complaint, Kylie Cosmetics knowingly disclosed Seed’s trade secrets — confidential intellectual property — with Coty, the beauty giant that also owns CoverGirl, Rimmel and Sally Hansen, among other brands," wrote Madeline Berg at the time.
Forbes also reported last June that Seed Beauty had been granted a temporary injunction in a civil lawsuit it had brought against KKW Beauty to prevent its trade secrets from being shared.
If it was these legal threats that did in fact prompt these latest brand overhauls, it would hardly be the first time a member of the Kardashian-Jenner family has been forced to undertake a brand pivot. Some might even say that they've built their entire empire on pivots and re-brands of sorts. In 2019, Kardashian West changed the name of her then-newly launched shapewear brand from Kimono to Skims when the former sparked criticism of cultural appropriation. This pivot proved overwhelmingly successful, with The New York Times putting the company's valuation at $1.6 billion last April.
In the field of beauty specifically, the Kardashian-Jenners have a slew of failed, largely forgotten businesses and licensing partnerships in their past. Take, for example, Khroma Beauty, a makeup line Kardashian West launched along with sisters Khoé and Kourtney in 2012; the brand lasted barely a year in stores before it was pulled from shelves after having been hit with multiple copyright infringement lawsuits from similarly named beauty brands. And then there was Kardashian Beauty, a mass-market hair brand that just never really took off in the way subsequent Kardashian-Jenner beauty ventures did.
All parties involved are remaining tight-lipped as far as providing additional details on the rebrands and reasoning behind them — KKW Beauty, Kylie Cosmetics and Coty Inc. declined Fashionista's request for additional comment at the time of publication. But if there's one thing celebrities like the Kardashian-Jenners have proven they do well, it's reinventing themselves (and their businesses) to maintain their stronghold on public consciousness. We're pretty sure Kim and Kylie — as well as fans of each of their beauty brands — are going to be juuuuust fine.