New York - Shopping guideA tiny storefront in Chelsea devoted to a new line of beauty products with mod, minimalist packaging doesn't sound particularly revolutionary. But Malin+Goetz is a bit of departure. In an industry built on a slick-as-porcelain ethos of flawlessness, Matthew Malin and Andrew Goetz, the couple behind the line, decided on a different approach. "It's a sense of honesty and openness that we're going for in both our products and our space' Goetz explains. "We'll never use expressions like 'reduces the appearance of fine lines?"
They never even talk about wrinkles or pores or slough-ability. There are no promises of miracles or "refining powers"; don't expect wonder ingredients culled from caviar, placenta, or an obscure Japanese kelp. Malin and Goetz operate in a much simpler, dichotomous, "clean/dirty" kind of world: They can help you take care of your hair, your face, and your body as unpretentiously as is possible outside of Duane Reade.
As far as the products are concerned, this means the info-the ingredients, the instructions-is right up front, in tidy, color-coded block print. There's "Face Cleanser." And "Body Wash." And "Hair Shampoo?' There are thirteen basic products in the line, and Malin promises that any plans for expansion would be every bit as fundamental-customers, for example, have been begging for something with a little sunbiock.
Their retail store on Seventh Avenue is exactly the kind of perfect, clinical white space you'd expect from a skin-care company: It suggests a rosacea-free world of fresh scents and orderly living. But the "store:' by architect Craig Konyk, is actually a white box, set within a typical exposed-brick-and-clanging-pipes city storefront. The fourth wall literally opens to show the often messy, stacks-of-paper truth of a start-up. A large swing door reveals a long steel table upon which Malin and Goetz do their thing: fill orders, launch plans, drink-and spill-coffee from the deli across the street.
It's not a very "beauty" concept for an industry that tends to live in fantasy and excess. These guys believe that the same face wash can work oily or dry, boys and girls. (They offer themselves as living evidence of harmonious, derma-androgy- nous living: Goetz is oily. Malin is dry. And since they founded the company, their tiny bathroom has become far less cluttered.)
Of course, all this simplicity is a gimmick of its own-it should come as no surprise that Matthew Malin is a veteran of Kiehl's, which prides itself on a similar paring-down yet still manages to charge $60 for a mysterious black jar labeled LYCOPENE FACIAL MOISTURIZING CREAM.
But for now, it's comforting to see the beauty world embrace a company that will never promise to turn back time, and the reality check provided by that messy back room, warts and all.