From Skims To Rare Beauty, Why Are We All So Invested In Celebrity Brands Right Now?

Every morning, all over the world, people are waking up and applying their Rhode skincare, a brand founded by Hailey Bieber. We're dabbing our lips with Selena Gomez' Rare Beauty lip oil, and throwing on our Savage x Fenty lingerie from Rihanna, before donning a Kim Kardashian-founded Skims bodysuit and a pair of sister Khloe's Good American jeans. And when the budget falls on the more luxury end of the spectrum, others might add a pair of flats by Mary Kate and Ashley's The Row, before finishing the look with a Victoria Beckham trench coat.
It goes without saying that celebrity brands are a dime a dozen these days, infiltrating just about every category, from sexual wellness to cookware. Of course, celebrity endorsements are nothing new (I remember finding a Jane Fonda workout book at my grandma's house in the late nineties) but the appetite for celebrity-created brands seems to have hit fever pitch.
Exhibit A: Khy by Kylie Jenner.

KHY DROP 001 launching tomorrow at 9am pst on

♬ original sound - Kylie Jenner
With the recent launch of Kylie Jenner's latest venture, I — to paraphrase SJP, who incidentally also has her own footwear line — couldn't help but wonder...what is the psychology behind our collective investment in celebrity-backed brands?
Parasocial relationships have existed since the inception of celebrity but could it be that in a post-social media world, we now need more to feel closer to our favourite stars? Historically, we have only been given glimpses into celebrities' lives through interviews and paparazzi images, but the advent of social media means that we now have unprecedented levels of access to their inner worlds. From GRWM videos to TikToks made in the kitchens or closets of celebrities' homes, these days, given the sheer volume of content we see, celebs can feel more akin to virtual friends. And by extension, their brands can feel like a product recommendation from your bestie.
While this might be true on the surface, a deeper dive into celebrity megabrands makes me think that there's a little more to it. The Kardashians, for example, are geniuses in the creation of these businesses, and a key reason I believe their brands work is because they offer fans a chance to emulate the elements they are most known for.
Case in point: Kylie Jenner's lip filler was a global point of speculation before the star decided to release her own lip kits back in 2015. And it is any coincidence that Kim Kardashian — who arguably possesses one of the most recognisable figures in the world — decided to launch a range of shapewear?
The Kardashians of course are not alone in capitalising on what they're most prominently known for. Jennifer Aniston, whose enviably beautiful locks have been a point of conversation since the era of the Rachel Green haircut, now has her own range of haircare called LolaVie. Similarly, Courteney Cox, whose character had a famed affinity for cleaning, launched a range of luxury household cleaning products in 2022. Of course, the link between Sarah Jessica Parker and her aforementioned footwear label is obvious. After all, Carrie Bradshaw was the character who famously spent $40,000 on shoes.
And while Kylie's pivot towards the fashion industry might feel out of place, a look back at recent history will prove that she's actually been repositioning herself as a serious #fashiongirlie for a while now. The star made headlines earlier this year after attending Paris Couture Fashion Week and wearing a lion's head replica to the Schiaparelli show.
Following this, she's made quite the habit of diving into the designer archives and opting for It brands regarded as the coolest of the cool among fashion insiders. During a separate trip to Paris in May, Jenner sported a series of minimalist (aka 'quiet luxury') outfits that comprised of looks from Alaïa, Bottega Veneta and Ferragamo by Maximillian Davis. She later appeared in a high-fashion ad campaign for Acne Studios, prompting many publications to speculate that she was in the midst of a fashion girl rebrand.
And voilà, mere months later, she has dropped her own line.
While it might feel like celebrities are starting businesses left, right and centre, some interrogation reveals that there is definitely a lot of thought, and at times years of planning that goes into it. And although the instinct can be to roll your eyes at another celeb-backed project, many are proving that these are not just flash-in-the-pan ventures.
Skims has been tried and tested by many in the R29 team, receiving rave reviews, while Selina Gomez's Rare Beauty is a go-to for several of our editors who claim to love its formulas and application. Ultimately, when the product is good, there is no need to question the person behind it. I guess it will only be a matter of time before we find out if Khy by Kylie Jenner has what it takes to transcend the initial, viral hype too.
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