Aesop Is Greater Than The Sum Of Its Soap

aesop immaculate facial tonic
Aesop Is Greater Than The Sum Of Its SoapHearst Owned

You’ve seen it splashed across the images of that outrageously priced flat on The Modern House, and in the bathroom of the restaurant with a month-long waitlist (likely, chained firmly to the wall). Your friend famous for her interiors eye has a bottle stashed in her bathroom, and the most refined Instagram grids are full of it. The Soap, it seems, is unstoppable.

To have a product become a byword for impeccable taste is an achievement most beauty brands dream of, yet Aesop is one of few to have achieved it. People that don’t do beauty know the value of Resurrection Aromatique Hand Wash, if not by experience then by aesthetic (after all, half the fame is due to the design).

While this instantly recognisable brown and cream bottle may be a modern mainstay, its beginnings can actually be traced back over twenty years. The second body product launched by the brand (the first being Geranium Leaf Body Cleanser), Resurrection rose to beauty fame completely organically. ‘If we travel back around ten years, that was when images of the bottle began to appear in design and architecture magazines,’ explains Suzanne Santos, Aesop’s Chief Customer Officer, who has been with the brand in varying roles since day one. ‘It then moved into people’s homes and bathrooms. People soon started mentioning it on social media, which was in a fledgling state back then. Placement, which we didn’t orchestrate, soon emerged in film and television.’

While the brand didn’t manufacture the fame of its humble hand wash, it is grateful for it. ‘It spawned a visibility that brought people into our stores: people saw the soap as a product of worth. Now, we’re at a place where it’s synonymous with pleasure and quality,’ says Santos.

Pleasure and quality may sound like two obvious associations for beauty brands to aim for, but today’s market often tells a different story: one where viral popularity and of-the-moment hype take priority, luring customers back with a constant stream of newness. Impressively, the design and formula (save for a few sustainability tweaks) of Aesop’s Resurrection has remained unchanged since inception.

It’s clear the brand knows (and is known for) bodycare, which still makes up the lion’s share of sales. Santos sees the category as a ‘remarkable introduction to the world of Aesop’, but is keen to look beyond the obvious this year.

Banking on bodycare may have been an easy win (imagine the carnival a limited-edition Resurrection bottle would command), but this year the brand is instead intent on courting the famously competitive skincare market.

The brand’s first skincare innovation in over two years, Immaculate Facial Tonic is a water-weight essence designed to both exfoliate and hydrate the skin in one fell swoop. Eschewing the big-name acids currently on the market, the brand opted instead for an enzymatic exfoliant: mucor miehei (it’s fungus, but that doesn’t sound quite as poetic) works to gently accelerate skin renewal without irritating sensitive complexions. Niacinamide and panthenol deliver replenishing properties, while rose ensures that sensorial Aesop signature. ‘From an internal perspective, skincare is the reason we are here,’ says Santos. ‘It is too deeply rooted within Aesop for us not to place it at the forefront of our company.’

It’s clear that, in the world of beauty, Aesop is one of few that knows exactly who and what it stands for – so what’s next? As an interiors-driven brand (every store is designed by a different architect or art-world figure: head to London Piccadilly to see Luca Guadagnino’s brutalist vision), surely homeware would be a slam dunk? ‘That’s a very saturated market of items that will likely end up in landfill’ says Santos, hammering home the genuine consideration that underpins every Aesop move. ‘We have the incense sticks, the brass oil burner, the candles – they are all natural extensions of our brand, and anything else that was to come would have to feel the same. Our (home) fragrance products are not about momentary decisions for a season: they are permanent pieces, and that’s what justifies their existence.'

So, if you are one of the many, many people out there hoping to bring more of that much-copied, yet never quite matched Aesop elegance into your own home, you may well be out of luck. At least we can be confident there will always be The Soap.

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