Roughly 20 students gathered at the corner of Broadway and York on Saturday to protest the Italian cosmetics store Kiko Milano, which opened as a part of The Shops at Yale last November.
The satirical protest, organized by The Yale Record, called for Yale administrators to bring a second Kiko Milano store to the same block on Broadway. Protesters painted “KM” onto their faces with lipstick purchased from the store, and held up signs with slogans such as “Kiko Mila-Yes!” and “What do we want? KIKO MILANO!!! When do we want it? KIKO MILANO!!!” The flyers handed out by protesters to passers-by listed nine demands, which ranged from turning Blue Jay Cleaners into a third Kiko Milano to free haircuts at Barbour for Yale students.
“We decided that we might as well ask for a second Kiko Milano on Broadway so that Ezra Stiles students would be able to walk to Kiko Milano faster than they now can,” Record chairman Aaron Gertler ’16 said.
The protest, planned before Kiko Milano set up shop, originally aimed to alert the Yale administration of what Gertler implied was the generally negative attitude of students.
The protesters have not contacted University Properties regarding the matter in any other form, Gertler said.
“When we heard that Yale had decided to replace the affordable food store up on Broadway with Kiko Milano and Emporium DNA, we were really excited to have the chance to buy more luxury products at Yale because that was really hard before,” Gertler said.
Although Kiko Milano opened prior to the protest’s original December date, protest organizers chose to ask for more, Gertler said, by pushing for a second store.
Rachel Lackner ’17, the Record staff member who pitched the idea for two Kiko Milanos, acknowledged the satirical nature of the protest, but noted that it was rooted in legitimate student concerns. She said that the protest had been prompted by negative student reaction to the upcoming closure of Gourmet Heaven, and the replacement of more affordable retail and dining options with stores such as Kiko Milano and Emporium DNA that do not necessarily cater to New Haven residents or students.
“It’s more for the image of the University, and I think that it’s going to be detrimental in the long run,” Lackner said. “A lot of students stand behind the fact that it’s not really for many people’s benefit.”
Kiko Milano store manager Jacqueline Rivera, however, stressed the affordability of the store’s products, noting that the store’s expensive-looking exterior aims to draw shoppers into the store, where they will then find affordable products. She also said that the store has attracted a large number of customers, ranging from students to New Haven residents, since its opening.
The protest received mixed responses from onlookers. While the protesters were asked to move away from the storefront of Denali, they received a banana from the Crêpes Choupette cart, as well as multiple honks from cars driving by. Passers-by, many of whom were Yale students, voiced appreciation for the protest, the organizers said. Others, however, were unsure of whether the protest was in favor of Kiko Milano or not.
In the second half of the protest, Gertler read a speech from the back of a poster, declaring “life, liberty and the pursuit of Italian makeup” as unalienable rights to those with “more money than others.”
The Shops at Yale website describes Kiko Milano as “an affordable Italian professional cosmetics brand with more than 1,200 products.”