The Rise of Niche Perfumery
The global perfume market was worth
$36 billion in 2016. With the size of the market comes a myriad of choices and hundreds of new scents every year. While most of us are familiar with the the major designer brands we see in department stores, there are lots of independent labels emerging in the niche perfume space.
Niche fragrances are produced at perfume houses or workshops on a much smaller scale. These are the perfumes you will likely only find at a location specializing in perfume or high-end fragrance. An article in
cites that, “In 2015, niche fragrances represented four percent of total fragrance value sales, but contributed to 69 percent of the growth.” With so many interesting products in the niche perfume space, it should not be overlooked when you shop for your next scent. The Independent
Known by its minimalist packaging and high quality ingredients,
Byredo was founded in 2006 by Ben Gorham. Gorham was intrigued by scent and memory after travelling to his mother's hometown in India. Advised by world-renowned perfumers Olivia Giacobetti and Jerome Epinette, the brand has launched 47 fragrances to date and expanded into scented candles and skincare. Byredo is even creating a home fragrance in tandem with Ikea set to launch in 2019. This wasn’t the brand’s first unlikely collaboration, as Byredo released a fragrance with the editors of . Fantastic Man magazine in 2011
Geza Schoen established Escentric Molecules as a unisex fragrance company in 2006. The innovative brand produces distinct single-note scents that highlight a rare, unique component. Its formulations are great if you prefer a subtle scent that does not overpower. Its best-seller is the Molecule 01 Eau de Toilette which is highly sensitive to body chemistry and combines with the wearers' own natural scent to create something quite unique and alluring.
Comme des Garçons
The first scent from
Comme des Garçons was released all the way back in 1994. The scent was crafted by veteran perfumer Mark Buxton and released in an iconic pebble-shaped bottle. The tagline for the original Parfum was works like a medicine, behaves like a drug. Certainly CdG had created something addictive and unconventional right from the get-go. Since then Comme des Garçons has released dozens more scents, many of which are highly experimental in nature. Among the releases are fragrances based around synthetics, incense and collaborations with the likes of Gosha Rubchinskiy and Pharrell. You can find its fragrances in boutiques worldwide and at Comme des Garçons’ own Dover Street Market stores.
Started in New York by long-time friends, Brian Jeong and Phillip Wong.
Hawthorne sets out to provide accessible and high quality men’s fragrances at a price point that won’t break the bank. Hawthorne enlisted the help of some veteran Givaudan perfumers Olivier Gillotin, Quentin Bisch and Rodrigo Flores-Roux to craft men’s fragrances that are wearable every day. The brand offers a personality test on irs website which will recommend two fragrances for work and play that are suited to your particular lifestyle.
Maison Martin Margiela
While Maison Margiela is a familiar name in the fashion world, the venerable fashion house made its
first foray into fragrance in 2011. The fragrance was simply dubbed “Untitled”. The packaging stood out instantly, featuring an apothecary style bottle dipped in white paint. Fortunately just as much attention was put into the scent itself, which contrasts green notes with a drydown that includes frankincense and white musk. A truly unisex fragrance, the line has since expanded to feature several scents targeting both men and women.
Founded in 2006,
Le Labo is a New York–based perfume house that made a name for itself through its handmade products. Le Labo established itself as as one of the first household name in niche perfumery and its best-selling scents like Santal 33 are ubiquitous at high-end department stores and perfume shops. While not the most experimental fragrances on the market, Le Labo scents are addictive and hard to forget.
Le Cinema Olfactif (From Folie à Plusieurs)
For the serious film buffs out there,
Le Cinéma Olfactif attempts to re-interpret film visuals into innovative scents. One example is its take on the cult classic French film La Haine. The brand describes the scent as, “A calm yet confrontational scent; mirroring the tension in La Haine that traces the contours of your neck like a sharp cold blade with buchu sulphur, metallic bloody notes and cold aldehydes.” Some of the other arthouse films that the brand has sampled for inspiration include The Lobster, The Virgin Suicides and The Duke of Burgundy.
Frederic Malle comes from generations of perfume expertise, starting from his grandfather who founded Parfums Christian Dior. Having worked as a professional perfume critic, Malle went on to found his own eponymous label that is dedicated to creating luxurious uncompromising products.
Frederic Malle works with world-renowned perfumers to create distinct scents without being tied to one particular style and he’s got fashion credibility having created scents with the likes of Dries Van Noten and Pierre Hardy. His namesake line provides minimalist luxury that respects the time-honored tradition of perfume making.