Established in 1987, Aesop has developed a reputation for its preeminence among luxury skin care brands. The Greek storyteller Aesop is known for his moralistic fables, and it’s fitting that his moniker has been adopted by this Melbourne-based company that seeks to tell a story with everything they do.
The aim of Aesop’s founder, Dennis Paphitis, is simple: to create effective skin care products with the highest grade botanical and laboratory-made ingredients. He’s been noted for saying that an emphasis on being the most “organic” or “natural” company is misleading for consumers. Instead, Aesop uses the best quality ingredients – those that are most suited and effective for our skin – to create products that deliver noticeable results.
This meticulously thought out approach to product development is representative of the brand’s encompassing philosophy: to undertake each endeavour with “intellectual rigour and vision.”
But Aesop isn’t all logic and rationality. In fact, Paphitis prides himself on adding a nod to the whimsical in everything Aesop does. Take their packaging. The understated amber bottles are reminiscent of an old apothecary and serve the function of protecting the products inside from UV rays. But their understated black and white labels are adorned with quotes by famous literary icons – words that Paphitis and his team try to live by.
This synergistic combination of pragmatism and fancy is also seen in the design of the company’s 20 flagship stores. Although all of their locations emphasize a minimalist aesthetic to best show off their products, each store is a unique celebration of its particular geographic home. At times they are even taken over by fanciful exhibitions. On one occasion, all of the products from the Melbourne Fitzroy location were replaced with novels by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. On another, an Aesop customer took over the St. Kilda store to demonstrate recipes from his new book on homemade dog food. Refreshingly, it’s this avant-garde approach to marketing and word of mouth that Aesop relies on, rather than big advertising campaigns.
But it’s the products themselves that keep customers coming back. Rather than promising unrealistic results or one-size-fits-all solutions, Aesop employees try to tell customers the unique story of their own skin – from its natural life cycle to how it is impacted by the climate they live in – and then help them select the most appropriate products. With a focus on ingredients that are loaded with antioxidants, such as parsley seed and green tea extract, Aesop’s lines are designed to fight the effects of daily stress on your skin and fight visible signs of aging, to leave you looking your best.
Although we don’t yet have an Aesop store of our own, Torontonians can find their products at Oliver Spencer on Queen Street West.