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Kao Salon Division, part of Japan-based Kao Corporation, includes well-known professional beauty brands including Goldwell, Oribe, KMS, Kerasilk, and Varis.

Whether in-person at a large gathering, inside intimate ateliers, or on a digital forum, Kao Salon Division regularly brings together salon professionals to share knowledge, showcase new products and trends, and foster networking and learning opportunities.

One such upcoming get-together is the Kao Salon Global Experience, kicking off in Chicago on September 24. As the brand teams prepared to greet their beauty family from around the world, MODERN spoke with Dr. Dominic Pratt, Global President of Kao Salon Division about some major milestones for the brands, as well as programs and initiatives ongoing and coming up.

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75 Beautiful Goldwell Years

Goldwell, the stylist-centric brand known for innovation, inspiration, and partnership, is celebrating a visionary 75 years.

“It’s a big year for us, and it’s a number to be very proud of,” Pratt says. “We’ve taken this time to look back at our company history and to focus on some important pillars.”

Goldwell was founded in 1948 by the husband-and-wife team of Hans Erich Dotter and Edith Dotter in Darmstadt, Germany. The brand developed and manufactured hair care and styling products, equipping salon professionals with high-quality shampoos, conditioners, and treatments.

“This was post-war Germany and the society needed beauty,” Pratt says. “Hans got together with a stylist and introduced the world’s first cold perm. Right from the start, Goldwell was built on being stylist centric, with an authentic, eye level partnership with the stylist.”

A turning point in the company’s history came in the 1960s when they introduced professional hair color and became a leader in the field, becoming known for their innovative hair color solutions and advanced technology.

“Goldwell is the home of our color, which is our pride and joy, and we continue to celebrate this with dozens of inspiring shows and activities,” Pratt says. “We’ve also concentrated on our Goldwell Color Collective, which is our online social community of up-and-coming colorists, giving them a global platform to share their inspiration and their creativity.” 

Partners in Sustainability

At the heart of Kao Salon Division lies a deep-seated sustainability ethos. Goldwell has been educating salons and stylists to make thoughtful choices around their product and energy use and has awarded those going above and beyond. 

With the new “Climate Neutral Salon” program in partnership with ClimatePartner, a globally acclaimed enthusiast of the carbon neutral world, Goldwell is building on the continuous success of Kao Salon Division to improve the sustainability of its production.

“Sustainability is very close to our hearts,” Pratt says. “This year, we’ve accelerated our efforts to empower salons to operate their salons more sustainability, and to offset carbon emissions and reduce the environmental impact of their business by becoming CO2 compensated salons. 

“It’s a partnership and shared journey with the stylists, with the salons, and with our  270 thousand business partners,” Pratt continues. “We’re investing heavily in programs and activities that inform and encourage them to make the right decisions. When we amplify these efforts, the positive impact is significant.”

15 Years of Oribe

The haircare brand Oribe, inspired by and developed in collaboration with editorial stylist and hair legend Oribe Canales, has inspired a cult-level following among session hairdressers, celebrities, models, and beauty editors since its founding 15 years ago. 

In 2017, Kao acquired Oribe, and has continued to maintain the brand’s identity and commitment to luxury haircare.

"Fifteen years sounds quite short compared to Goldwell’s 75, but in 15 years, Oribe has become a runaway success.  We have been seeing Oribe wowing salons in Asia, and we want to build on this success.

 “One of the keys will be Oribe the Journey to Mastery Education.  It’s built on the philosophy of learning and offering best-in-class education. We utilize 80 diverse global artists to teach these classes.  We're also looking forward to the opening of the first European Atelier in Copenhagen, led by Nicci Welsh.”

Journey to Mastery, “education of the hair obsessed,” includes instruction in the foundations of cutting and styling, and also dives into the specifics of setting, bridal, runway and even retro.

“It’s about taking Oribe truly global for the future.  We also see sustainability top-of-mind for Oribe; we launched a microsite to explain the 360’ approach (from products, to partners, to people).”

Goldwell Color Innovation Preview

At the Kao Salon Global Experience, hairstylists and salon owners will get firsthand exposure to new offerings from the brands.  Pratt says that Goldwell will be unveiling new products and innovations in the professional haircare and styling industry.

“The big one will be ammonia-free Topchic Zero which will be launched in the US in autumn. This is a perfect Goldwell combination—50 years of haircolor and performance along with our passion for sustainability.  You’ve got color perfection but also a formula that is drain-safe, ammonia-free, vegan, and free of ethanol, and the packaging is 100% recycled. There will be 27 shades at the initial launch.”

Other updates and innovations will include those from Goldwell Stylesign products which will incorporate Marine Bamboo Technology.  The bamboo proteins help to keep the style natural and flexible.

KMS will be featuring Seaweed Technology in its products which takes a problematic raw material and turns it into something very beneficial.

And in the Oribe portfolio, Pratt says fans can look forward to an expansion of the Gold Lust and Hair Alchemy Collections

At the Kao Salon Global Experience in Amsterdam, October, 2023, the finalists and their models celebrate the moment.  
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At the Kao Salon Global Experience in Amsterdam, October, 2023, the finalists and their models celebrate the moment. 

Connection and Creativity

MODERN will be onsite at Kao Salon Global Experience, which will include the Global Creative Awards, a hairstyling competition with country finalists competing and showcasing their skills and creativity.

“I joined the very first community inspiration live event that we did –20 years ago—it was called Trend Zoom and then Color Zoom,” says Pratt. “As a young scientist, seeing what these super talented stylists could do with our technology and our products—it soon became my favorite time of year.

“There is so much energy and it’s such an amazing experience for all of us taking part.  Seeing these talented artist and ambassadors, or that next generation of emerging talent, the raw emotion of the winners and even those who don’t win.  How can you not love that?”

Stay tuned for more coverage from Kao Salon Global Experience.

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Originally posted on Modern Salon

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