Streetside, Glossier’s new flagship store is like anything else you may happen upon in Soho, albeit suspiciously pristine for New York City’s accustomed grime. When I stepped inside on opening day, I couldn’t help but let out an earnest, “Wooooow.” With a grand staircase fit for Princess Mia Thermopolis herself, a Willy Wonka-esque product conveyor belt and a cavernous skylight reminiscent of Antelope Canyon, Glossier registers closer to Apple than Sephora on the retail experience spectrum, but with the charm turned up to 11. Much like the products themselves, the space is certainly Instagrammable, but more so for its soothing color palettes and streamlined features rather its bait-worthy installments (of which there are many).
Glossier maintains a radically dedicated following reminiscent of a sports team or, dare I say, an actual cult. Highly anticipated product drops and new shade releases garner thousands of online reviews and trending hashtags. Considering it’s a relatively new beauty line (Glossier.com launched in 2014), the hype is impressive. The feverish energy coursing through the air on the opening day of the flagship store came as no surprise.
One thing did surprise me, however: Amid the throngs of young women eagerly tapping blush into their cheeks while mindlessly bobbing to a Saturday night-grade playlist, I noticed men breaking away from their shopping partners to tentatively explore the space, as well as those beelining for what they clearly planned to scoop up for themselves. It got me wondering: What do those on the proverbial sidelines of this cultural flagpole for the beauty community think of all this frenzy? For a brand largely evangelized by women, and in a space seemingly built like a skincare and makeup playground for them, how did it feel to step inside as a man?
As someone who frequently hands over money to Glossier and had to employ all my self-discipline to resist a fresh buy despite the fact that an email containing tracking information for my most recent G purchase had just buzzed on my phone, I was curious to gain the perspective of the flies on the wall. So I turned to these Instagram husbands, best friends and male beauty enthusiasts who, up until now, have remained a largely underhyped customer demographic. Millennial pink couch warmers, if you will — the very subset documented and celebrated by IG account @glossierboyfriends, I later found out. Although many I spoke to claimed to know absolutely nothing about Glossier, that’s exactly the kind of objectivity I was after. Below, their musings on what it’s like to shop the opening day of a beauty brand with its own denomination.
“I’m here with my daughter and wife. I’d never heard of Glossier before but my daughter and wife shop here regularly. The store seems high-end. Probably high quality. I only know that they have makeup and eye stuff. I wouldn’t use either of those.”
“It’s my second time shopping at Glossier but my first time at the store. I just think its a cool brand and I like that everything is simple to use and everything is really natural looking. It’s really modern. I really like the skin tint and Boy Brow. I also like Balm Dot Com. I’ve been wearing makeup for a couple years now. I’ve also been doing drag and more dramatic looks now, but I wouldn’t call myself a makeup artist. It’s just fun!”
William Braciak, 23
“Actually we just had brunch. It’s my girlfriend’s birthday and we walked past here with our other friend and they were both like, ‘Ahh!! Let’s go really quickly.’ I was like, ‘Sure, it’s your birthday, let’s go.” And I had no clue what to expect. It’s like this glass outside and this almost Apple store atmosphere inside. Everyone’s dressed the same and I was like, ‘What is this?’ I had no clue and now I’m here. They have the suits and everything like that. The product placement is really good. I work in marketing and its nice to see how they present it. The entrance experience is quite cool. You walk up the stairs and you have the light shining on you. You want to take a picture and put it on your story.”
Keleam L., 27
“I just wanted to check out what it is. I’m here with my friend. It was her idea to come. I thought it was a dance club or something like that because of the music and the atmosphere. It was a surprise to come in because it’s kind of like an art gallery. Then I found out the products are not expensive and actually good quality. I’m not really into skincare, only lotion, but now maybe I will research and get into the skincare thing.”
Suchan Kim, 36
“To be honest I just read an article in the New York Times 20 minutes ago that they had a new store opening and I thought it was worth checking out as I’m interested in retail concepts. I have to admit I don’t know anything about the brand. The store is beautifully executed and surprisingly done. Obviously a lot of people knew about this, I don’t know how they drew all these people in here, but when you walk in it’s almost like a museum or exhibition. But I’m here to figure out their price points and how they attract all these millennials.”
Thomas Daniel Rolfus, 40
“My girlfriend wanted to come here. We’re in town for a few days and she’s bought some products online so when she heard about the store she wanted to come in. I knew nothing about it beforehand though. It’s a cool shopping experience. The music is good and its relaxing.”
Adrian C., 21
“The first time I heard about Glossier it was on my wife’s Christmas list last year. Now being here, the most memorable thing about it are probably all the matching outfits the staff are wearing.”
“I’m just here visiting New York. I’m with my girlfriend so we’re doing some sightseeing and shopping. My girlfriend shops here often so that’s why we’re here. She likes it a lot. There’s a whole bunch of makeup she likes here. I’ve maybe stolen a little blush from her before.”
William Cuellar, 22
Chris: “We just came to check out the new retail space. I hadn’t been to the previous showroom, but it’s pretty impressive. A little overwhelming just because of the crowd.”
Peter: “I’ve been a fan of the brand for a few years. I don’t use the makeup but I like the price point. It’s exciting to watch a brand like this grow and tap into something that obviously young women felt they needed in their lives, clearly, because there’s so many of them here.”
Chris and Peter, 27 and 28
“I have their exfoliating face product for acne so I thought I’d come in to check things out. My first impression is that everything is pink, but I like it. I figure girls have nice skin so let’s use their stuff, right?”
Gunnar Mattson, 21
“I’m here picking up my moisturizer and gifts for friends. I feel like Glossier is pretty unique and I don’t feel like I’m getting scammed. I like the aesthetic as well. I kind of missed the fact they were opening a whole new store today. I thought the showroom was just reopening. There’s a lot of people which I don’t like, but I guess its because it’s the opening day.”
“I’m just picking up things for myself. I started using Glossier about a year and a half ago, but I stopped maybe three months ago and I noticed a decline in my skin so I’m going back. I didn’t know the store was opening today, I was expecting the elevator from the old space. I came in, ordered and am now waiting to get out, but that staircase was pretty cool. Today I’m picking up the Phase 1 Set, the Mask Duo Set, the three pack of serums, and the Solution. I’m kind of going in.”
Chase Black, 21
“If you ask me what Glossier is and how it sounds, I’d be like, ‘I don’t know, a makeup brand?’ But the store is super cool and very immersive. I don’t know what half of the products do so I can’t speak to that, but I opened one and they told me it was balm. I put it away because I didn’t want to mess it up. Sometimes I use lotion, I don’t wanna look old when I get old.”
Hunter Wright, 25
Photos by Simedar Jackson.