Kylie Jenner Has a New Look and Even More Products

Kylie Jenner Has a New Look and Even More Products

Kylie Jenner is 26 years old. She is a mother of two small children. She no longer wears wigs or bold makeup every day. She no longer wakes up and immediately posts on social media. “Maturity” and “sophistication” are the words guiding her branding now.

She is “stripping down a little bit,” as Ms. Jenner said at her Calabasas, Calif., office last week, her knees pulled to her chest for the duration of an hourlong interview. “I don’t have this thick mane down to my butt, I don’t have lash extensions, I don’t have these long claws.”

She held up nails like glossy red almonds. To her, those traits were markers of her youth; to others, they signaled cultural appropriation of Black women.

Perhaps you’ve noticed this evolution. Perhaps you perform weariness at any mention of the Kardashian-Jenner family. But you’re still reading this, and no one is more aware of that phenomenon — one eye watching her, the other rolling — than the family’s youngest, most enigmatic and arguably most famous, sister. Ms. Jenner has 400 million followers on Instagram. That number, which exceeds the population of the United States, may include bots, but it still surpasses each of her siblings’ followings.

Since she was a child, Ms. Jenner’s public persona has been defined by consumption. She consumes the trappings of celebrity and wealth: clothes and cars, private jets and cosmetic procedures. Then we consume her: the media she shares, the celebrity gossip she generates and, critically to the family business, the products she sells.

On Tuesday, she announced Sprinter, a line of canned vodka soda. On Thursday, she released Cosmic, her first fragrance under Kylie Cosmetics, a company that she co-founded at age 18 and that was valued at $1.2 billion in 2019. She is also continuing to release clothing through her new brand Khy, offering “high fashion pieces for less,” she said.

Even by Kar-Jenner business standards — each sister is attached to at least one commodity, including tequila, gummy supplements, size-inclusive denim and, the crown jewel, shapewear — this has been an eventful week for Ms. Jenner.

But if she’s tired, she doesn’t show it. If she feels any pressure — because not every family brand is an instant hit, as evidenced by Kylie Swim in 2021 — she doesn’t show it. Ms. Jenner doesn’t show much these days. In 2020, she told a beauty YouTuber that being criticized when she showed her “true personality” hurt more than being criticized when she was “playing a character, not showing people everything.”

This is how she has learned to live publicly as an adult: by being watchful, reserved, soft-spoken.

“When you share so much, you open yourself up to more comments and more people’s opinions of your life,” she said in her office, her face inscrutable.

That face. The one people have been studying and debating since she was 16 and began enlarging her lips. Initially, Ms. Jenner claimed that she had been using makeup and not injections to enhance them, and she soon began selling the Kylie Lip Kit to help others do the same. A decade later, people are still commenting and opining. If Ms. Jenner appears at an event in harsh lighting, plastic surgeons make viral TikTok videos explaining what they think went wrong. Has the face of any other woman of her generation been more seen or scrutinized?

“It’s just years and years of not feeling like my face or looks are accepted,” Ms. Jenner said. “There’s nothing anyone could ever say now that would hurt me.”

Fragrances are often personal. Ms. Jenner wanted hers to appeal to the masses.

“I just want everyone to like it,” she said of Cosmic, which is mostly sweet, battered with vanilla musk and star jasmine. She wanted the bottle to look as if it had fallen from space into her hand, then molded around her fingers. (It is reminiscent of Halston’s famous perfume bottle, sculptural with a rounded cap.)

Ms. Jenner solicited feedback. She and a friend doused themselves in the scent before going to a party, she said, then compared compliments at the end of the night.

Similarly, Ms. Jenner said she hosted “rounds and rounds and rounds” of taste tests with family and friends for Sprinter, her new fruit-flavored vodka soda cans.

Generally, the inner workings of celebrity-fronted brands are opaque, and their true leadership not always clear, thanks to layers of nondisclosure agreements. The Kar-Jenner family, led by matriarch-manager Kris, has long emphasized their close involvement in their businesses, particularly when it comes to concepts and creative direction.

“Some people will say, ‘That’s a great idea, let me slap my name on that,’” Kris Jenner said. Kylie “wants to be in control of her decisions.”

In October, Ms. Jenner announced her clothing brand Khy, founded with Kris as well as Emma and Jens Grede, the entrepreneurial couple who partnered with Kim Kardashian on Skims and Khloe Kardashian on Good American. (The Gredes were not available to comment.) Ms. Jenner said she was involved in each “drop” from its inception: choosing collaborators, assembling mood boards, selecting fabrics and colors, directing photo shoots.

She also posts directly to Khy’s social accounts. On the day of her interview with The Times, she had to resist deleting a post made by someone else that she found too bright and zoomed in.

Khy has released four drops so far. The first was heavy on faux leather clothing, all priced under $200. (Sales reached $1 million within an hour, according to the company.) The fourth, released on Feb. 28, was sheer and sexy: light and tight pieces in neutral colors with asymmetrical sleeves, twisted straps and cutouts, all priced under $100. Several styles appeared to sell out within minutes.

The designer Tommy Hilfiger, a family friend and mentor, told Ms. Jenner that Khy “was a terrific idea,” he said. “It’s what she wears, and she has millions and millions of fans who want to wear what she wears.”

A brief survey of top shopping writers on Substack revealed a less convinced crowd — although their readers may skew older than Ms. Jenner. One prominent newsletter writer had never heard of Khy. Laurel Pantin said the quality “would need to be truly exceptional as well as responsibly made” to interest her. Laura Reilly said she felt Khy lacked the storytelling and solutions offered by Skims, a brand created by a woman who claimed to once cut and dye her own shapewear.

“I wouldn’t expect a group of people who debate the merits of the High Sport pants to care” about Khy, said Jess Graves, suggesting that her readers were more interested in the investment pieces — those aforementioned pants are $860 — found in Kendall Jenner’s consistently understated wardrobe.

Ms. Jenner said her personal style began shifting about a year ago. She had ramped up appearances at Paris Fashion Week, including a Schiaparelli show where she wore a fake lion’s head on her chest. Her son, Aire, was turning 1.

“It takes me a while after I have a baby to feel like myself again,” said Ms. Jenner, who has been open about struggling with postpartum depression. “Then you get your body back, and you’re like, ‘Wait, the trends have changed.’”

Some of Ms. Jenner’s followers were surprised when she shared a photo of herself wearing a puff-sleeve “cottagecore” maxidress on vacation last summer. It was far from the popular “King Kylie” identity she inhabited in the mid-2010s, then an experimental Tumblr teen whose moody contra-Kardashian style made her more relatable. Commenters speculated that her new “clean girl” style was a result of her new relationship with Timothée Chalamet.

Had Ms. Jenner seen any of those comments? Not really, she said. (She reads only feedback on posts related to her businesses.)

“I don’t know how I feel about that,” Ms. Jenner said, touching the tips of the notes resting on her knees. The questions were inching uncomfortably toward Mr. Chalamet. “I just don’t want to talk about personal things.”

A few times during Ms. Jenner’s interview, her 6-year-old daughter flew into the room.

When I said goodbye, she was surprised I knew her name. “Everybody knows your name,” Ms. Jenner told her. “You’re a superstar.”

Ms. Jenner later asked me not to quote her daughter. “We can’t do that to her,” she said. “She’s innocent. She comes in here, and she doesn’t know we’re doing an interview and then she has these quotes out in the open and she’s 6 years old. It’s my responsibility to protect her.”

Information recently published by the Kardashian Data Koalition, a group of technology and data professionals, found that Ms. Jenner cut down on posting about her children by 47 percent from 2022 to 2023, even though these posts earned her the most likes on average.

Ms. Jenner hasn’t totally sworn off sharing photos of her family or bringing her children to public events. (She and her daughter attended two fashion shows in January.) But she wants their exposure to be “under my control,” Ms. Jenner said. “Since I was 9, people have been in my business.”

And for the next 17 years, she met a lifetime’s worth of scandal. Backlash over being named and unnamed a billionaire. Backlash over her response to the Houston Astroworld tragedy. Backlash over “blackfishing” and copying other brands, accusations similarly leveled at her sisters. Backlash over being linked to an older man as an underage girl and polluting the planet with her plane and promoting unrealistic beauty standards while also being a product of unrealistic beauty standards.

“Right off the bat, her appeal was the spectacle,” said MJ Corey, a pseudonymous psychotherapist who applies media theory to the family’s affairs on her Kardashian Kolloquium account.

“We didn’t see puberty happen. We saw a really stark before-and-after. I think that was shocking to people, this very radical departure from girlhood into womanhood that also probably encouraged this entitlement to consume her.” Ms. Jenner’s aging process will likely be made into a spectacle of equal measure — it is already happening.

Ms. Corey pointed to a 2016 episode of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” in which an overwhelmed Ms. Jenner tells her older sisters: “Some people are born for this life and some people aren’t, and I just know I’m not supposed to be famous.”

“Is it prophetic? Is it going to be tragic someday?” Ms. Corey asked. “There’s something iconic about the idea that a Kardashian doesn’t want it, because we associate their brand with an absolute lust for fame at any cost.”

During our interview, Ms. Jenner described watching her oldest nephew turn 9 and re-examining her own experience of being filmed at that age. “To be fair, my family didn’t know how successful it would be,” she said. “I think if they could have foresaw that, they would probably think twice about it — being on the show so young.”

The following morning, on a call with Kris Jenner, I asked for her thoughts.

“I have no regrets,” she said. “I believe that everything happens for a reason.” Kris has spent the last six years admiring her daughter’s approach to motherhood, telling her, “‘I wish I would have been as present as you,’” she said.

Given Ms. Jenner’s deluge of new products — and the products her sisters will surely release into the world this year — I asked her mother whether the family might reach a point when enough is enough, in terms of brand deals and empire building.

“My personal thought on working and career is that it really does keep you young,” she said. She brought up Iris Apfel, the 102-year-old fashion personality who, as she understood it, believed the secret to longevity was to never stop working. (Ms. Apfel died one day after our conversation.)

“There’s no limit on what we can do,” Kris Jenner said.

Eight years ago, Kylie Jenner told Interview magazine that by 30, she wanted to live off the grid on a farm in Malibu, raising chickens. She has since acquired chickens — and a garden maintained by “some nice ladies” that supplies her kitchens with the “blessing” of fruits and vegetables, including the kumquat sliced into my sparkling water.

In the spirit of her mother, Ms. Jenner has since changed her mind: “I have lots more years in me,” she said.