How these new independent DTC beauty brands are disrupting the market

By Jess Spiring

- Last updated on GMT

Sustainable prestige brand Commune takes a perfumer's approach to bodycare
Sustainable prestige brand Commune takes a perfumer's approach to bodycare

Related tags Cosmetics Marketing direct to consumer Social media Sustainability sustainable beauty

Digital-first strategies, subscription models, viral social media campaigns and celebrity CEOs mean these fresh faced beauty brands are taking advantage of the industry’s recession-resistant growth.

Current research would suggest that the lipstick effect is as resilient as ever. Despite the economic downturn, in May the Mckinsey Beauty Market in 2023​ report predicted a 6% YOY growth until 2027 bringing the total value of the beauty market to $580bn. Combine this with research into the beauty buying habits of consumers in China, France, Germany, Italy, the UK and the US which found 42% of buyers enjoy trying new brands and it’s easy to see why disruptive new beauty brands are managing to gain a foothold. Here are five to watch this winter:

1. The small batch perfumer: Ffern

Ffern's subscription model means there is little waste from this small-batch perfume maker

Following the runaway success of Beauty Pie with its subscription-based model comes Ffern an independent perfumer which operates a ‘ledger’ of customers who commit to paying £79 per season for each bottle of small-batch perfume. Each limited edition scent is formulated by Francois Robert (the nose behind Charlotte Tilbury’s Scent of a Dream) and Elodie Durande. While the brand isn’t keen to reveal how many clients are on the ledger, it is estimated to be in the region of 20,000 who, by committing to buy each season mean waste is minimised. Many customers discovered Ffern through its bucolic social media posts which have garnered it 105k Instagram followers while on Tiktok the hashtag #ffern has almost a million views. A bricks and mortar store opened in London’s Soho in November 2022 to allow sampling of the scents, although subscribers receive sample sized phials with every delivery.

2. The sustainable start-up: Commune

With their PR and DTC marketing campaign set to launch in late 2023, bodycare brand Commune is already well placed to build on its super engaged audience thanks to targeted social media and its presence in premium stores (SSence, Goop and Harrods) and hotels (The Newt in Somerset and Estelle Manor, both in the UK).

A commitment to impeccible sustainablity from husband and wife team Rémi Paringaux and Kate Neal led them to source bespoke resuable pumps and recyclable aluminium bottles which, combined with a perfumer’s approach to body care, and £55 entry price, place the brand firmly in the prestige beauty category. A store is due to open in their home town of Bruton in winter 2023.

3. The celebrity MUA make-up line: Violett_Fr

Top roles at Dior, Sephora and Estee Lauder mean French make-up artist Violette Serrat wasn’t playing when she launched her eponymous brand in 2021 and began exporting French insouciance to the world. Launching the vegan line at the same time as starting a family and taking a role as Creative Director at Guerlain haven’t prevented her from building a Violette_Fr community through weekly newsletters and how-tos broadcast to her 500k Instagram followers and on her YouTube channel which has more than 300k subscribers. Bestsellers include matt balms and liquid lipsticks in signature shade Amour Fou, liquid eyeshadow/liner in vivid cobalt blue and Invisible Bandage, a healing serum primer.

4. The nepo newcomer: May Botanicals 

Model and daughter of Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall, Georgia May Jagger brings her celebrity clout to this British beauty brand. Launched in autumn 2023, May Botanicals has just five skincare products largely sourced and produced in the UK. Choosing organic, dermatologically tested formulas that harness nature’s healing properties, the brand promises to give back too by donating a percentage of sales to the Worldwide Fund of Nature. With actor/models Suki Waterhouse and Poppy Delevingne already following the brand’s fledgling Instagram account, expect a rapid ascent to prominence

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