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Moda Operandi Entering the Beauty Arena

Moda Operandi, the e-commerce platform for designer fashion, will begin offering beauty products on its website later this year, WWD has learned.

It’s a move by Moda to gain ground in an increasingly competitive online field of luxury players, notably Mytheresa, Farfetch, Saks.com, Matchesfashion and Net-a-porter.

Jessica Matlin, formerly Harper’s Bazaar’s beauty director and currently cohost of the Fat Mascara podcast, which she cofounded, has been appointed Moda’s director of beauty.

“Beauty is the logical next step for Moda,” said Lauren Santo Domingo, Moda’s cofounder and chief brand officer. “Our customer comes to us for our curated point of view on personal style across fashion, fine jewelry and home. With the launch of this category, Moda will become a complete lifestyle destination.”

Santo Domingo characterized Matlin as “a true beauty innovator” with an “authoritative voice and sharp perspective.”

This is the first effort by Moda to launch a comprehensive beauty strategy and assortment, though in its 12-year history the website has listed a few beauty items on a sporadic basis. At the outset,  Moda’s beauty business will offer makeup, skin care and fragrance.

Asked if other people will be hired for beauty, an executive replied, “Jessica will have a dedicated buying team and will receive support from our shared service marketing organization.”

Moda Operandi Entering the Beauty Arena

Jessica Matlin

There have been several developments in the online beauty world recently. As reported by WWD in April, Farfetch dove into the beauty business with an assortment of over 100 prestige brands. The launch followed Farfetch’s acquisition of specialty retailer Violet Grey in January, and the minority stake it took in Neiman Marcus Group in April.

Off White, which is owned by Farfetch, recently launched four fragrances with the retailer, while Browns Fashion, the London-based luxury retailer that also is owned by Farfetch, launched a limited beauty assortment online and in its two brick-and-mortar doors

Other digital players like Net-a-porter and Ssense have become more aggressive pursuing beauty, though the intensifying competition for beauty shoppers has gone beyond the internet and into brick and mortar with major chains like Kohl’s and Target establishing partnerships with Sephora and Ulta Beauty, respectively, in the past couple of years.

In the last few seasons there have been a flurry of changes at Moda, including sweeping changes at the senior executive level.

Last March, Abby Huhtanen joined the e-tailer as its director of fine jewelry. She’s the founder of consulting firm AMH Global, and formerly served as chief commercial officer at Ippolita, president of Kimberly McDonald and fine jewelry watch buyer at Bergdorf Goodman. She’s charged with setting up Moda for aggressive growth in the category.

In August 2021, April Hennig was named senior vice president and chief merchandising officer, a new role on the executive team, in which she oversees product strategy, category expansion, merchandise planning and brand partnerships and experiences.

Other recent senior hires include Dermott Sullivan, chief operating officer; Don Allen, chief information officer, and Mark McClendon, senior vice president of global marketing and sales, while Jim Gold became permanent chief executive officer in May 2021 after serving for a period as interim CEO.

Last June, Moda shored up its finances by securing investment from G Squared and existing investors New Enterprise Associates and Santo Domingo. Also, Gordon Brothers with Consensus extended Moda a $13 million term loan, which helped get the new investments.

Moda officials said Matlin will report to Hennig and be responsible for developing the go-to market strategy for the beauty category, including brand curation, vendor relations and establishing Moda Operandi’s point of differentiation. She will also collaborate closely with the marketing and creative teams on editorial messaging, influencer campaigns and events.

Matlin’s podcast was launched in 2016 and has included conversations with influential names in beauty, such as Bobbi Brown, hairstylist Jawara, Jane Fonda, Kim Kardashian, Aerin Lauder and Glossier’s Emily Weiss. Earlier in her career she held roles as beauty and health director at Teen Vogue, beauty editor at Cosmopolitan, Allure and W, and she has worked as a consultant for global beauty brands.