Amid the hundreds of stalls featuring the latest streetwear and sneaker drops, makeup and skin care had a presence at this year’s ComplexCon.
Taking place on November 19 and 20 in Long Beach, California, ComplexCon included booths from beauty brands including Urban Decay, Topicals and Dieux. Still a rare category at the streetwear convention, beauty brands used the opportunity to drop new products, offer activities primed for social sharing, and tap into the growing connections between the streetwear world and beauty.
“ComplexCon, for us, is a space that’s not already inundated with beauty. We want to be one of the first brands that’s able to really put down roots here and show that we can thrive in this sneakerhead culture,” said Kyla Wright, avp of brand partnerships and culture at Urban Decay. “We have a stiletto on one foot and a high top on the other.”
As a sponsor of ComplexCon, Urban Decay hosted its second-ever booth at the event to celebrate its Naked palette collab with pop artist Robin Eisenberg. Featuring paintings and a large custom mural by Eisenberg, the booth also incorporated an AR component: Users could access a “Space Invaders”-themed game featuring Eisenberg artwork by scanning a QR code on the wall. Those who posted their score on Instagram with the campaign hashtag received a free gift bag with an Eisenberg print and a sample of Urban Decay’s All Nighter setting spray, while lucky winners with a “golden ticket” on the back of their print received the palette itself.
Dieux co-founder and CEO Charlotte Palermino had a similar sentiment about the skin-care brand’s booth at the event, which had a long line of visitors waiting to receive a free aura photo and reading. “We chose ComplexCon because we don’t see a ton of beauty brands here,” and “it is a convention that is around shopping and discoveries,” she said.
For beauty brands participating, it was important to have a cultural fit with the hypebeast crowd and aesthetic. Skin-care brand Topicals, which returned to the convention for the second year in a row, opted for a bright bodega-themed pop-up featuring its full product assortment as well as makeup brands Luna Magic and Thread. Celebrities and influencers stopping by the booth for photos included streetwear fashion influencer Aleali May, musician Trinidad James, and “Life of Kylie” star Jordyn Woods and her twin Jodie.
“Topicals is more about the community of women than just [being] a brand,” said founder and CEO Olamide Olowe.
According to Wright, Urban Decay’s collaboration with pop artist Eisenberg was “totally Gen Z,” in that it was “something fun, colorful and engaging.”
“I love drawing powerful woman aliens,” said Eisenberg, who was on hand at the booth to greet fans. She said that beauty influencers have been using the Urban Decay palette to create looks resembling the characters in her paintings. “I never thought I’d see my art like that, in the form of makeup.”
The collab and ComplexCon booth were part of Urban Decay’s ongoing strategy of “exploring different avenues” and “stepping out of the beauty space” with new types of influencers such as artists, said Emma Hernandez, PR and brand partnerships manager at Urban Decay.
Like streetwear brands, participating beauty labels used the event to drop never-before-seen products. Dieux allowed users to test the brand’s new eye cream that will launch at the end of this month, while Topicals used the event to preview its Faded eye masks that launched on Monday.
Beauty has been making growing links with the streetwear world over the past few years, with brands including Supreme and Off-White launching beauty products. At ComplexCon, KNC Beauty and Revlon have also sponsored activations in previous years.
Participating beauty brand founders said there’s a growing interest in skin care in the streetwear world, including among men.
“We can thank Pharrell for starting this conversation a few years ago,” said Palermino, referring to Pharrell Williams‘ streetwear-adjacent skin-care brand Humanrace. The cultural director and host committee chair of the first ever ComplexCon in 2016, Williams himself was not there this year, but his fashion brand Billionaire Boys’ Club retained a prominent booth spot near the show’s entrance. A PR rep for both Billionaire Boys’ Club and Humanrace said the skin-care brand may be present at future ComplexCons.
At the Dieux booth, the brand’s co-founder Marta Freedman said the brand was seeing many enthusiastic male visitors stopping by to try the new eye cream. Dieux’s co-founders and other reps were on hand to hand out free sets of the brand’s $25 cult eye masks and answer questions about the new eye cream. According to Freedman, the event was a good opportunity to teach a male audience about the brand.
“Men are kind of scared to have a routine. And when they see three or four products, it may feel a little more manageable,” she said, referring to the brand’s current product assortment.
For beauty brand founders, the event also provided an opportunity to connect with brands in other categories.
“This is our foray into the streetwear world,” said Freedman. “There are a few fashion brands we have our eyes on for collabs, so I’m trying to manifest that into existence.”