■ About the Issue
Welcome to the second issue of Aesop published nine years after the first issue.
The Brand Story, featured in our 16th issue published in May 2013, starts with what Aesop founder Dennis Paphitis said: “I guess the reason I started my own beauty company was that I wasn’t patient enough to be a philosopher, nor tolerant enough to be an architect.” This, I gather, epitomizes Aesop, though it has been nine years since B first shed light on the brand. Admittedly, Aesop is engaged in the business of cosmetics, but it does not feel sufficient to label it as a cosmetics brand. If it were to be described as a person, it could be likened to a scientist equipped with some qualities of a philosopher or an architect, or an aesthetician who has characteristics of a philosopher or an architect. Dennis Paphitis seems to have designed the brand with a philosopher’s mind and an architect’s eyes.
Aesop talks about holistic beauty for an individual’s inner and outer worlds rather than focusing solely on glowing skin and ageless looks. Observing the steps and approaches the brand takes can give us hints on what to do to achieve an enriched and fulfilled life. Having a profound respect for the written world, making sophisticated choices about space-filling objects, stimulating the senses toward the seasons and nature, and maintaining a sense of community-based hospitality-these are just a few ways. Aesop has brought these messages to life through its formulations and stores, which makes this hair and skin care brand stand out from all the rest. Of course, it does not mean that Aesop’s choices are undoubtedly superior or successful. But it seems undeniable that Aesop has established its own world, carving out a place for itself in the cosmetics scene as an inimitable brand.
The most interesting thing I found while looking back through the brand after nearly a decade was that there have been very few noticeable changes. It is so rare for a brand to stay the course without growing impatient in an age when all things consumption have reached total saturation. Aesop seems to be more focused on managing its physical and cultural assets and sharing these with those who have deeply appreciate the beauty brand. As if proving this, cofounder and CCO Suzanne Santos said in an interview with B: “Aesop was perfect from the beginning.” What she meant by perfect, I guess, has less to do with absolute perfection than it has to do with a state in which there is nothing more to add or perhaps an expression of the brand’s willingness to maintain its current state. Also, the perfection Aesop pursues is best expressed in a comment that Paphitis shared once: “A well-formulated product stands the test of time and doesn’t need to be reinvented each season.”
Aesop has such a perfect and meticulous approach that makes its users feel content. It is like a process of learning how to live a simple yet authentic life and feel fulfilled by such a life. It feels all the more special to know that “This is enough,” just as Japanese lifestyle brand Muji urges through its business motto. To become the best is to be tied to the perspectives of the others, while a sense of contentment solely depends on our own mindset and nothing more. I wonder what objects, spaces, and experiences make you, our readers, feel content. I hope B is one of those spaces for you.
Content & Editorial Director