War Paint for Men Store
Danny Gray has been wearing makeup for the last 20 years. But the entrepreneur also knows that even in a gender-busting era of Harry Styles, some men may outright dismiss the idea. So he’s on a mission to “change the whole thinking around men’s makeup.” The strategy? Build comfort and confidence among men. And now, just three years after founding War Paint for Men, he’s giving the British makeup brand its very own 499-square-foot (46-square-meter) shop on London’s iconic Carnaby Street. Filled with the company’s moisturizers, concealers, and beard and brow gels, it’s believed to be the world’s first makeup store for men. But for Gray, it’s about more than just pushing product.
“Our main goals as a makeup store and wellness space are to work towards giving people the tools to feel confident every day and to create a safe space to talk about wellbeing,” says Gray.
The concept of men’s makeup isn’t new: Tom Ford, Yves Saint Laurent, and Chanel all sell it. But shifting cultural norms have primed the market for innovation as brands look beyond the usual shampoo and shaving products. And a dedicated retail space is a potential gamechanger for the men’s personal care industry, which is on track to reach nearly USD$76 billion by 2027, according to a report by Grand View Research Inc.
Gray had the idea of a store for a while and decided to take the plunge in January of 2021. The upstart has quickly moved from launching the first men’s makeup counter at John Lewis Oxford Street to now shipping more than 180,000 products to 80 countries. And the seven-month project to create the venue is a way to take the brand “one step further.”
“By having a physical store that people can visit, you get to curate a whole experience for them and they interact with you as a brand on a different level,” Gray says.
When envisioning the project, he knew it had to be a place that would put men at ease as they explored the line. To do that, the team built in interactive features like Ask Danny, a virtual Q&A experience that lets users pose questions that are then answered by Gray with some digital handiwork using pre-rerecorded responses.
Another priority for the store? Helping men actually try out the products and find the right ones for them. To help customers determine their ideal shade, for example, the team outfitted the shop with a customizable foundation formula service. Using tech from Dcypher to take a “reading” of a customer’s skin, the store let shoppers walk out with a bespoke foundation or tinted moisturizer made with their preferred texture, finish and coverage.
Gray is also using the store to amplify conversations around men’s mental health. War Paint for Men collaborated with The Lions Barber Collective, a nonprofit group of barbers trained in mental health support, to open its first retail space within the store. And in October, Gray launched JAAQ, a nonprofit that lets users ask questions about mental health, and created an in-store “pod” that shoppers can use to ask questions about anything from depression to body dysmorphic disorder.
“Everything the brand is doing is about giving men the tools to help them feel more confident and our store is here to do just that,” Gray explains.