The beauty brand's London pop-up shop sells not just its wildly popular products but a sense of belonging—while maintaining an air of exclusivityby Rebecca Liu / January 15, 2020 / Leave a comment
“I was hired as an assassin.”
That’s how writer Patricia Lockwood opened her recent review of John Updike’s novels for The London Review of Books: “You don’t bring in a 37-year-old woman to review John Updike in the year of our Lord 2019 unless you’re hoping to see blood on the ceiling.” I thought of those words when my editor, upon receiving an ES Magazine with a promotional cover announcing Glossier’s new pop-up shop in London, peeled it off, handed it to me, and summarily announced: “I have a new assignment for you.” The last time I wrote about Glossier, the cult American skincare and makeup brand best known for its celebration of ‘natural beauty’ that is nevertheless beautiful, sleek millennial-pink product design, and frenzied popularity among millennials, I referred to it briefly as a salesperson of “snake oil for wannabe heiresses.” I also mentioned that I couldn’t stop buying it.
The difficult thing about being offered a metaphorical dagger is that it is so fun to wield it, especially when your opponent insists on being so obvious. So, let’s play. The pop-up Glossier store in London’s Floral Street in Covent Garden is a florid eye-watering spectacle whose mood board seems to have been titled “if Laura Ashley’s millennial lovechild dropped acid and then threw up on herself.” I arrived on a rainy Monday morning, six days after its grand opening. Despite the rain, there was a queue full of excited students and tourists. Behind me, a teenage boy from Australia expressed his determination to get a gift for his girlfriend. “Why can’t you just buy this stuff online,” asked his mother wearily, with the defeated air of a parent realising the world is getting too stupid for her. “I don’t want to wait here all day.”
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So I missed #texturetuesday yesterday because I crashed my car and spent a considerable amount of time in a&e SO let this whip lashed babe post it today please? (I’m fine, my car isn’t but things are things and I walked away with just a broken thumb and bruised nose from the airbags????) ANYWAY: extra special texture Tuesday coming from my fav place to have visited in 2020 so far #glossierlondon on #floralstreet ???? guess the products ???????? . . . . #glossierlondon #glossier #handswatch #happyplace #beautyproducts #iloveskincare #ilovebeauty #beautyflatlay #discoverunder5k #beautybloggers #glossierlipgloss #glossierpink
It’s this easy scepticism and common-sense understanding of the purpose of a store—a place to go and purchase things you need — that the Glossier pop-up wants to aggressively undermine. It is an experience, a playground, a cushy members club. It contains four rooms, all coated with a different hue, wallpapered and carpeted with clashing floral prints and lit by high-octane drop-down spherical lights. You are guided through these rooms via a circular, one-way IKEA-style floorplan; the idea is that rooms are ‘unveiled’ to you as you go along, adding a pleasurable element…