Self-quarantining and social distancing have taken a toll on the business of fashion, and on a personal level, many of us have swapped ready-to-wear for loungewear. In a lot of ways, fashion’s taken a back seat to the booming world of self-care — and topping our list is skincare. To transition from style snob to beauty snob, we’ve enlisted the expertise of grooming connoisseur Garrett Munce, who cleverly compares your favorite fashion brands to their skincare equivalent.
Skincare is like fashion in a variety of ways, and not just because they’re both aesthetic pursuits. First, it’s a personal journey. The same products that work for your friend might not work for you. Second, both skincare and fashion are about branding.
Think about it: what makes you pick up one item off a rack packed with others? The label plays a big part. The same goes for why you pick a certain skincare product off a crowded shelf: you’re drawn, know it or not, to the brand. And, these days, guys want their face cleanser and moisturizer to do more than just cleanse and protect their skin. We want products that fit into our lifestyle, that we’re not embarrassed to leave out on our bathroom counters, that have vibes instead of just ingredients.
If you know fashion, you’ll understand skincare. These are the brands you should know, alongside their fashion equivalents.
Bode = Vintner's Daughter
Bode represents a world where people are willing to pay huge sums of money to feel like they’re acting sustainably, and those people are also using Vintner’s Daughter. One of the brands that launched the current Green Explosion, Vintner’s Daughter only has two products: a serum and an essence made from all-natural ingredients, both of which will set you back a couple of hundred dollars. A cult following of green-minded fancy people has popped up around both brands, who believe that conspicuous consumption and harsh chemicals aren’t necessary to be cool.
Chanel = La Prairie
Like the storied House of Chanel, favored by fancy grandmothers and young hypebeasts alike, the skincare “house” of La Prairie has a long history. The brand extends back to 1931 with the opening of Clinique La Prairie and the cellular rejuvenation research of Dr. Paul Niehans. Like Coco Chanel, Dr. Niehans had a vision, and almost a century later that vision is still something you want to put on your body. Nowadays, also like Chanel, La Prairie is expensive AF, but completely worth it, according to brand acolytes. The rich moisturizers and silky eye creams might have a decidedly old lady scent, but if you ask us, that only adds to the experience.
Goyard = Biologique Recherche
Even when Goyard wasn’t at the front of every stylish dude’s mind, it was still churning out luggage for those in the know. You’ve probably never heard of its skincare equivalent unless you follow beauty influencers on Instagram: Biologique Recherche. Its hero product, an exfoliating toner called Lotion P50, has been referred to as “Jesus in a bottle,” and seems to be the desert-island product of anyone serious about skincare. It’s expensive and hard to find, but using it means you know something your friends don’t.
Tom Ford = Tom Ford
OK, this is an easy one, but think about it: can any brand get to the level of Tom Ford without actually being Tom Ford? The notoriously well-groomed designer first extended his taste level to fragrance, creating an extensive line of instantly iconic scents and, just last year, came out with a new unisex skincare line to match. Tom Ford Research isn’t going to set you back as much as a sharkskin suit, but in skincare terms, it comes pretty close. There are only three products: a moisturizer, serum, and an eye cream, but if we’re to learn anything from Ford, luxury is in the details.
1017 ALYX 9SM = The Nue Co
The whole point of 1017 ALYX 9SM is to blend what we know — streetwear, tailoring, and technical fabrics — to create something surprising. The same ethos goes into The Nue Co, an innovative grooming and wellness company from the UK. All of the supplements are fused with the combination of nature and science, and can combat everything from bloating to skin issues. Teaching us that better skin is possible from the inside is the type of out-of-the-box thinking that The Nue Co is best at. Plus, the bottles fit perfectly in a 1017 ALYX 9SM harness pouch.
Snow Peak = SK-II
Japanese brand Snow Peak is the gold standard of design-minded functionality, even for people who have never built a campfire in their lives. Knowing about Snow Peak gives you instant cred, and the same goes for its skincare equivalent SK-II. The products themselves, like the essence and mask, are beloved around the world because they’ve been perfected over the years to not just work, but make life easier. But more than just using the products, both SK-II and Snow Peak are about a lifestyle, and actually owning a piece of the brand signals that you value functionality and design (and are willing to pay a premium for it).
Jil Sander = Dr. Barbara Sturm
The similarities between Jil Sander and Dr. Barbara Sturm go beyond just the founders (both are blond, German ladies). While Sander made her mark on the fashion world with her minimal designs and created a global brand founded on a “less is more” attitude, Dr. Sturm’s ethos comes from using scientifically-proven ingredients to perfect your skin. The simple, minimal packaging is one thing, but inside the bottles are advanced formulas that work to rebuild skin and attack a variety of issues, including some you can’t even see (like pollution). A Dr. Barbara Sturm serum is the Jil Sander white button-down of skincare: not everyone will get it (or understand why you paid so much for it), but the trained eye can tell you’re onto something.
Supreme = Glossier
Every hypebeast waiting in line outside the Supreme store in Manhattan has a girlfriend waiting in a similar line a few blocks away: outside Glossier. Are the logos similar? Yes. Have both brands mastered the art of the drop? Yes. Can people get enough? No. Where Supreme constantly reinvents classic garms like tees and sweats and makes them cool just by slapping on a logo, Glossier has done the same to easy, no-fuss skincare. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel with every face serum, they say, you just need to put it in a slyly designed bottle and give it a great marketing campaign (or lack thereof). For the record, both brands are unisex, and in the case of Glossier, there’s even an Instagram account to prove it.
J.Crew = Kiehl's
Peek into the closets of half of America (and most of the Brooklyn dad population), and you’ll find at least one item from J.Crew. Peek into those same dudes’ medicine cabinets, and you’ll likely find Kiehl’s. Both classic American brands are now mainstays of any red-blooded guy’s style. Thanks to both brands' availability at malls, they’re easy to find and meet a need that most guys have: to look put together without necessarily standing out or opening their wallet too much. Like J.Crew’s democratic, slightly-elevated basics, Kiehl’s has an extensive line (and sub-lines) of skincare products that work for every type of guy and make you look good without going over the top.
Gucci = Buly 1803
Did Alessandro Michele directly reference Buly 1803 when he took the helm of Gucci? If we were to take that bet, we’d put our money on “yes.” Now, it’s easy to confuse the packaging of the two-centuries-old French apothecary brand with what we think of as Michele’s signature style: maximalist, ornate, and vaguely mystical. Lotion tubes with tarot hands printed on them, face cleanser bottles with script words you can’t quite pronounce, hand soaps that smell like a grandma but in a good way — they’re all at home in the print-crazy, layered, cartoonish world of Gucci. Is it something you stole from your grandmother or something you bought from Mr. Porter last week? In the case of both brands, it’s almost impossible to tell.
Nike = Unilever
While global force Nike has gradually taken over closets and decided what we wear in and out of the gym, another conglomerate has taken over our personal care: Unilever. What it lacks in name recognition, Unilever makes up for in reach: it’s the company that owns Axe, Suave, Noxzema, Dove, Vaseline, and tons more. Walk down any men’s grooming aisle (or look in your own bathroom) and half the products are made by Unilever. It even has its own version of high-end NikeLab: a luxury portfolio that includes brands like Dermalogica (a science-backed, very high-end skincare brand), REN (cutting-edge, clean skincare), and Living Proof (guy-friendly, solution-based haircare).
Acne Studios = Aesop
Acne Studios' clothing signifies a certain commitment to an art degree (or anyone who wants to look like they have one). The clothes are minimal, sure, but hidden in the details are codes that the wearer might be wearing a T-shirt, but their T-shirt is cooler than yours. It’s a similar ability to build a lifestyle through subtlety that makes sustainably-minded, minimal-but-not skincare brand Aesop so desirable. One of the OG natural-inspired grooming companies, Aesop is all about effective ingredients in easy-to-use formulas with just-advanced-enough sounding names to confuse those left out of the loop. Everyone who’s anyone can identify a bottle of Aesop soap or hand cream sitting on a sink counter (and if they can’t, it’s lost on them).
Uniqlo = The Ordinary
From its innovative technology, like Heat Tech, to the consistent roster of surprising artist collabs to its high-end collabs that sell out in seconds, Uniqlo has cemented its place as a fashion force, price point be damned. Similarly, when The Ordinary launched in 2016, skincare pros were left gobsmacked at how such great products could be sold at such low prices (many of the products have a single-digit cost). And, like Uniqlo, The Ordinary prides itself on its ability to infuse its products with technology and craftsmanship more commonly found in products with much higher price tags.