A core part of my personality involves supporting (almost) every move made by the former members of One Direction, but Harry Styles’ new lifestyle brand falls into the same category as Liam Payne’s homophobic “Both Ways” song — a cancellable offense.
Harry launched his incredibly basic beauty and lifestyle brand “Pleasing” Nov. 19 designed to “excite the senses and blur the boundaries,” according to its TikTok. The brand’s launch saw the release of four overpriced products — a $65 nail polish set, a $35 facial serum, a $30 hydrating pen and a $95 hoodie.
And what explanation did Harry give me for releasing a product line that combines to be more expensive than my car payment?
It’s his “way of giving back” to fans, Styles told Dazed. The products are “sustainable” and “mindfully made,” he said.
But Harry isn’t donating the profits to a charitable cause, or offering discounts to people who can prove they’ve loved him since they were 12 or addressing any of the societal problems he’s most comfortable referencing in his advertisements.
He’s literally just selling black nail polish. Thanks, Harry, I feel so loved and appreciated after that.
It isn’t that I don’t think Harry should branch out and sell me even more things. In fact, I take a sick sense of pride in funding Harry’s lavish lifestyle — my (reasonably priced) $7 One Direction toothbrush is proof of this.
Unfortunately, instead of counting down the seconds until I could fight with other fans to buy limited amounts of product, I was forced to sit it out because I’m a broke college student.
It’s clear I wasn’t the only one, as everything is still in stock except for the hoodie. We’re talking about the man who helped to cause a yarn shortage after wearing a crocheted hat and cardigan, so the continued abundance of products says something — namely, most people just survived a pandemic and don’t have the cash for marked-up nail polish.
Celebrities love creating makeup lines and they’ve proven it’s profitable. Rihanna’s makeup brand Fenty made her a billionaire but that’s in part because she worked to create an affordable, diverse product line that filled a hole in the beauty industry with its extensive shade range.
In a similar way, Halsey’s beauty company about-face spent years formulating interesting products that combine into a cohesive and unique line based around the type of makeup artistry Halsey specializes in.
In both these examples, the face of the brand enmeshed their own personalities and passions into brands in a recognizable way. In contrast, Harry slapped his name on some items shoppers can find tried and true versions of anywhere and co-opted language about breaking the gender binary alongside it.
I’m glad Harry’s at least making an effort to ensure his products are sustainable and aren’t tested on animals, but in 2021, that’s the bare minimum.
His attitude toward the brand is also promising — there’s a section on Pleasing’s website titled “Do Better,” where the company lays out its aim to “prioritize people and the planet.” Pleasing is partnering with the nonprofit Nest, which promotes gender equity and economic inclusion, but it’s unclear to what extent the companies are connected.
“We know we can always do better and we strive to do so every day,” the website reads.
Here’s how you can do better, Harry. Start by creating products that are more innovative than black, pink and white nail polish and sell these things at market value with branding that doesn’t try to be something it’s not.
Right now, Pleasing is just greedy capitalism cloaked in feel-good language that co-opts progressive ideas about sustainability and gender acceptance for marketing purposes.