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The CBD buzz: a new high point for fashion retailers?

CBD is the current buzzword of the beauty and well-being industries, but can fashion benefit?

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: where Kim Kardashian West leads, the world follows. The latest trend to be given the “KKW” treatment is CBD, which the celebrity and social media star pushed into the mainstream via her “CBD themed” baby shower earlier this year.

But what is CBD, and should the fashion industry take notice?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound extracted from hemp and is one of more than 100 cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa or hemp plant. It does not contain the psychoactive substance THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is linked to getting people “high” or “stoned”. CBD is legal in the UK when derived from EU-approved hemp.

It has been gaining traction, particularly in the US, when marketed as part of the wellness boom and in health-conscious beauty products, thanks to its purported benefits, which include anti-inflammatory properties, as well as helping with stress, sleep and pain relief.

Research released in May by BDS Analytics and Arcview Market Research forecasts that the collective market for CBD sales is expected to exceed $20bn (£16.4bn) in the US by 2024.

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Mr Nice CBD product

“We’re witnessing CBD maturing from a cannabis sub-category into a full-blown industry of its own,” Roy Bingham, co-founder and CEO of BDS Analytics said at the time. “Our growth forecast for the CBD market, across all distribution channels, predicts a compound annual growth rate of 49% by 2024. This is a great opportunity for all involved.”

Fashion retailers are waking up to customers’ demands for experiences and stories to buy into. Those that want to add a lifestyle, beauty or wellness dimension to their operations will find CBD products offer multiple benefits. 

Here in the UK, businesses such as Boots and Holland & Barrett have sold CBD products since early 2018, and Harvey Nichols was the first British department store to stock CBD beauty products last summer. Selfridges and Harrods have since followed.

And now a wave of CBD-focused businesses have started to arrive on UK shores.

“Elevated wellness” website The Chillery launched in May this year, selling “premium CBD” products including cannabis-infused candles, CBD bath bombs and face oils.

Another store, Mr Nice, opened the same month. It bills itself as a “cannabis lifestyle store”, selling “high-end cannabis products” and “cannabis accessories”. The store also features a large selection of fashion items that reflect the “cannabis lifestyle”.

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Mr Nice London store

The latest, The Drug Store, opened a permanent shop in London’s Marylebone in July following a series of pop ups in the capital. It sells premium products in a luxury setting from “the world’s most pioneering wellness brands that celebrate the extraordinary power of CBD”.

It makes sense that a wellness product linked with beauty items would catch on as a buzzy product: it is ticking off two trends in one, as both wellness and the beauty industries continue to grow and expand.

There is no denying the impact the beauty market has had on fashion businesses – visit most high street womenswear stores and beauty collections have been launched and promoted to prominent positions in store to reflect consumers’ growing interest.

For Clemens Böninger, co-founder of The Drug Store, the growing interest in the CBD trend offers opportunities for fashion retailers: “CBD products are spanning a wide variety of categories by now, some of which could be interesting add-ons for a fashion retailer. It is a talking point. At the end of the day, CBD is becoming part of a balanced health-conscious lifestyle. If a clothing retailer aligns with these values, there could be an opportunity.”

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The Drug Store London

Add-on products such as beauty products and candles are nothing new. But although it is on trend, CBD comes with challenges.

“Because CBD is such a hot, but controversial, product it is essential to build a customer’s confidence in their purchase decision,” recommends Böninger. “There is a rising demand for CBD products, and we are on a mission to clean up the market by providing a trustworthy source to access quality products.”

Retailers need to source products from reputable brands and be sure that they are fully informed about issues surrounding CBD. But as the market expands, businesses seeking to capitalise on its add-on potential should get on board early.

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