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The Death Knell Is Tolling for Nail Art

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For better or worse, nail art's shining moment in sun appears to be drawing to its inevitable close. WWD reports that the rate of sales growth in the nail product category has slowed to almost half of what it was last year, which was about half of what it was the year before.

Per this morning's article:

Sales of prestige nail products gained 19 percent in the year-to-date period ended in May, compared with an increase of 42 percent growth for full-year 2012 and 67 percent the prior year, according to The NPD Group Inc. In the mass market, nail polish sales rose 19 percent for the 52-week period ended May 19, compared with gains of 24.8 percent for full-year 2012 and 35.7 percent in 2011, according to SymphonyIRI Group.

True, 19% growth is still pretty good by any standards. But the writing is on the wall.

Some of the most influential people in fashion have recently (and not so subtly) made their opinions on the trend known. During his last runway show, Marc Jacobs declared that his favorite nail polish color is clear. Anna Wintour recently published an essay penned by self-professed nail-art addict Eva Chen about the former Teen Vogue beauty editor's personal nail art detox.

Even the red carpet—which had become a big manicure moment, peaking with last year's mani-cam at the Emmy's—has had a poor nail art showing this season. Most actresses at this year's Oscars sported clean, neutral nails.

So with the fashion industry and celebrities stepping off the nail art train, it's likely only a matter of time until consumers follow suit.

Which is not great news for retailers who have invested valuable square-footage in expanded nail-focused destinations. WWD points out that drugstores like CVS, Walgreens, and Duane Reade and specialty beauty retailers like Sephora have carved out valuabel square footage for nail bars and dedicated nail polish displays. The Times Square Sephora location expanded its Nail Studio area with seven interactive nail workshops, for example.

All is not lost for the beauty industry, however. Salon owner and nail guru Jin Soon Choi spoke to WWD about life after nail art, and feels optimistic that though nail art may be over, nail polish has a long, happy future in front of it. "I feel a little bit tired for all the gimmicks," she said, but predicted that women are still going to want clean, elegant manicures. Choi forecasted that a "simple nail color with a slight twist" will have a moment this fall.
· Nail Polish's Meteoric Rise Begins to Stall [WWD]
· Marc Jacobs Killed Nail Art With His 'Favorite' Color: Clear [Racked]