There was a time when the sizing of perfume and fragrance couldn’t get any bigger. Brands and designers were piling into flacons of 200ml and upwards, trying to squeeze as much money as possible out of consumers for their hit ‘juices’. Two hundred millilitres is more conducive to the drinks cabinet than the bathroom. Then came lockdowns.
Left - Brands such as Versace and Moschino are producing 'lockdown sizes' of 10ml fragrances for £20
A McKinsey report in May, 2020, said, with regards to the global beauty market, “2020 will be one of the worst years it has ever endured.” The report said consumer retail spending on beauty products was experiencing a sharp decline (up to 20%) as well, leading to an unprecedented projected $175 billion USD loss in revenue for the industry this year. 90% of women stated, in the report, they used little to no makeup while working from home.
It said, in May, “based on the scenarios most expected by global executives and current trends, we estimate global beauty-industry revenues could fall 20 to 30 percent in 2020. In the United States, if there is a COVID-19 recurrence later in the year, the decline could be as much as 35 percent.”
Unilever too has reported declining revenues in its personal care division. An update in April warned about shrinking personal care sales because more people working from home meant they were washing their hair less often, putting off shaving and even ditching deodorant. Four months on, in its Q3 report, it said personal care sales had continued to slump.
Graham Pitkethly, Unilever’s chief financial officer, said "fewer personal care occasions from going to work or socialising” impacted sales. Skincare declined high-single digit and deodorants declined low-single digit. Though there was a slowing of declines when we came out of lockdown during the summer.
The greedy fragrance industry has been built upon a biggest is best attitude when it comes to their products, and especially gifting, when, in fact, a little should go a long way. Brands have realised that demand has changed and are now launching smaller sizes in 10ml or 20ml editions. Moschino and Versace has 10ml options in many of their fragrances including ‘Toy Boy’, ’Dylan Blue’ and ‘Eros’ for £20. Eight & Bob has added a range with a 30ml (with optional artisan leather case), a size which isn’t often seen in bridge/niche brands. Much of this sizing was ironically called ‘Travel Size’ when, in fact, it’s the lack of travel and leaving the house which is creating the demand. Tocca has a ‘Travel Trio Set’ containing three 20ml bottles, while Goutal Paris is offering a ‘discovery set’ containing four classic 10ml fragrances from their range.
Sarah Binns, Head of Training at KGA, one of the UK & Ireland’s leading fragrance distributors, currently representing over 25 premium perfume brands, says, “Ironically I saw this ‘travel size’ trend start pre COVID-19 in response to the always on the go lifestyle and as a way to entice younger consumers into the category with a lower price point on luxury brands. Retailers had started requesting smaller sizes in fragrances to showcase in their pick ’n’ mix style locations near till points. It is interesting to see how this new size category has become so valuable in the current climate too.” she says.
“I think a lot of brands had started to develop these sizes pre lockdown for other reasons, but they have really come into their own with the current situation. Brands are aware that consumers are nervous to spend on something they can’t try first so this is a great solution.” says Binns.
The McKinsey report said, in most major beauty-industry markets, in-store shopping accounted for up to 85 percent of beauty-product purchases prior to the COVID-19 crisis, with some variation by subcategory. Even online-savvy American millennials and Gen Zers (those born between 1980 and 1996) made close to 60% of their purchases in stores. With the closure of premium beauty-product outlets because of COVID-19, approximately 30 percent of the beauty-industry market was shut down. Some of these stores will never open again, and new openings will likely be delayed for at least a year.
Suzy Nightingale, Senior Writer at The Perfume Society says, “We’re definitely seeing more fragrances offered in smaller ‘try me’ sizes, and although beauty products have been used less in lockdown; we’ve actually seen a huge rise in sales of our discovery boxes and brand sets, which offer sample vials, miniature bottles and travel sizes to try at home. Classic scents have even made a comeback as people reach for a familiar fragrances as a comfort blanket, reminding them of happier times.” she says.
Right - Goutal Paris 4 x 10ml fragrance sizes exclusively available at John Lewis: www.johnlewis.com - £68
“I think there’s been a desperate longing for ‘newness’, and we’ve also had fragrance lovers tell us they don’t want to associate this year with a single scent.” says Nightingale. “Simultaneously, many fragrance houses suddenly realised that, if people can’t get to shops or, when they do, tester bottles aren’t readily available anymore. This fast-tracked something we’ve all been asking for anyway: smaller size bottles we can try before we buy, or use to explore a diversity of scents or fragrance notes out of our usual comfort zones.
“I definitely see this trend continuing - online previously had the hurdle of being a difficult place to buy your first full-size bottle of perfume if you’d not smelled it already. Nowadays, people want greater choice and the chance to flirt with lots of fragrances. Sometimes more IS more, but it doesn’t always mean a bigger bottle…” she says.
While the term ‘lockdown sizing’ won’t be used by the brands, it’s an interesting twist on the entry ‘travel size’ offer. These prices are keener and entice people to buy before they try. This is the beauty industry's version of a micro-bag; an entry level product aimed at younger and less affluent consumers.
“Smaller sizes bring accessibility, the signature scent is becoming a thing of the past and it is much easier to build a large fragrance collection with these entry price options. In an environment when you often can’t test the product before you purchase, it’s a smaller risk to invest in a mini size first.” says Binns.
“I think this trend will continue within the COVID-19 environment as a way to experience new products before making a larger investment in the full size. Once we are able to travel again I’m sure that they will become even more popular for their portability.” she says.
How many people are wearing fragrance at home, or, at least, in the quantity they used to without social engagements and interaction with other people or work colleagues? The cheaper prices are also a factor in their popularity. When fully branded and looking as good as the full size bottles, rather than a simple tester, these items look much more desirable.
“Consumer confidence is low and this always has an effect on spending within beauty. People are reaching for products that make them feel good as oppose to looking or smelling good for other’s benefit. Fragrance sales were hit hard at the beginning of the pandemic but we have seen a steady increase as people rediscover the joy of treating themselves or showing love to others with a gift that encourages wellbeing” says Binns.
Sales in smaller sizes are better than no sales at all for the beauty industry, and the margins will be higher. The fragrance industry will hope these smaller lockdown sizes will encourage and continue the habit of individuals wearing fragrance even if we continue to be on our own.
Buy TheChicGeek's latest book FashionWankers - HERE
Read more expert ChicGeek Comment - HERE
Check out TheChicGeek's new shop of fabulous plants & books - Give me Penis Cactus!
Moschino’s latest men’s fragrance is a spicy, woody amber. Containing top notes of Italian bergamot, pink berries, elemi, Indonesian nutmeg, pear, cloves, heart notes of Neoabsolut Orpur rose, flax flowers, cashmeran, magnolia and base notes: Haiti Orpur vetiver, ambermax and sylkolide.
TheChicGeek says, “Sinitta once sang, ‘He’s my toy boy, toy boy, I’m out with my toy boy, toy boy, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday night,’ well, it kept her busy, and Moschino’s Jeremy Scott is having some serious leather boy fun with his one.
The fragrance is a sparkling rose surrounded by notes I can’t quite put my finger on. There are lots of ingredients here that I don’t recognise.
It’s camper than Katy Perry dressed as a chandelier and that makes it all the more interesting. It’s the opposite of the imagery and while a reflection of the bottle, the fragrance feels pink in colour.
I love what Scott does at Moschino and his playfulness was made for fragrances and especially the packaging. The choice of model and styling really works for this.” *puts chaps on*
Left - Moschino Toy Boy - 100 ML - £85 Exclusive to Selfridges
Right - A look that never gets old - Jhona Burjack in the advert for Toy Boy
Disclosure - A sample product was gifted by Moschino to review
"When Jean Paul Gaultier opened Beau's case and, closing his eyes, the smell of coconut wood inspired a profound desire to relax, while the bergamot and the tonka bean whispered to him that lounging was the most refreshing of sins."
The perfumers were Quentin Bisch and Sonia Constant who teleported themselves to “Gaultier's garden”.
TheChicGeek says, “What a beauty! Jean Paul sticks to his winning formula here; tin can packaging, torso bottle and well priced. This is JPG’s Adam, with the giant fig-leaf to match - ooo-er.
The fragrance is an unapologetic gourmand with lots of yummy notes, making this a fun fragrance, but not sickly. It’s wearable and will definitely appeal to the devoted Le Male fan club. While containing the masstige tonka bean, it doesn’t smell generic or boring and has the same tongue-in-cheek sense of humour we adore from Mr Gaultier.”
Left - Jean Paul Gaultier Le Beau - 75ml - £44.62
Disclosure - The product was gifted by Jean Paul Gaultier to review
Each Ostens ‘Impression’ is a fragrance created as an ode to a single inspirational ingredient. Here is patchouli. Melting wax. The resinous dust from a violin’s bow. Crushed biscuits, cooked molasses. Old bricks, decorative tiles, worn stone floors are just some of the references said to be conjured up by this scent by Domitille Michalon-Bertier. Other notes include rosemary, lavandin, lavender absolute, immortelle absolute LMR and ciste labdanum absolute.
TheChicGeek says, “Ostens is a new fragrance company - see more here - and they’re starting with one quality ingredient and asking perfumers to create fragrances around it. Here, everything rides on a classic patchouli heart without its earthiness.
This is addictively good. I’m getting a lot of incense and wooden church pews, but without that screaming and clawing depth you get from some niche fragrances. This is a gorgeous patchouli and very easy to wear. It's one of my favourite fragrances of the year so far and it's the kind of fragrance you want to say to everybody 'smell me'."
Left - Ostens Impression Patchouli Heart IFF-LMR No. 1 - 50ml - £85
Disclosure - A sample was gifted by Ostens
Jo Malone has launched solid perfume travel-ready palettes featuring some of their most popular fragrances. A light, smooth texture, containing pure beeswax, ensures a rich scent when applied to the skin. Customers can fill their palettes with their choice of two Jo Malone London scents from Lime Basil & Mandarin, Basil & Neroli, Pomegranate Noir, English Pear & Freesia, Blackberry & Bay, Nectarine Blossom & Honey, Peony & Blush Suede, Mimosa & Cardamom, Wood Sage & Sea Salt and Oud & Bergamot. When it’s time to try a new combination, simply use the enclosed pin to pop the two scents out of the palette.
Left - Fragrance Combining Palette - £24, Solid Perfume - Cologne - £14, Solid Perfume - Cologne Intense - £16
TheChicGeek says, “Something new from Jo Malone. Affordable and fun, these solid perfume palettes are perfect for travel - you no longer have to worry about fragrance eating into your toiletries liquid allowance for hand luggage and also means you can have two fragrances at the same time, which works with Jo Malone’s famous ‘Fragrance Combining’ (Trademark!).
The formula is soft and creamy and allows for a different, more intimate way of applying fragrance. This feels like more about fragrance for you, than for others. The palettes aren’t huge, and I don’t think they’ll last very long if you’re using them all the time, but, I think constant refresh is part of the point.
They’ve missed a trick not designing the palette so the pin, to remove the fragrance, can clip onto it. But you could just use any pin if you lose it. This is a really fun idea and makes a new entry product for Jo Malone. It feels younger and I think they could have had more fun with the packaging and maybe they could offer palettes in brighter colours or designs. I guess, if this is a success, this will become their equivalent of a jewellery charm bar. It could also become the Nespresso of fragrance!”
Disclosure - The products were gifted by Jo Malone to review
Made in Britain, palm oil and paraben free, ‘Evolution’ is the debut fragrance from men’s grooming brand, Kings. A mix of essential oils including patchouli, cardamom, vetiver, copaiba, ylang ylang and eucalyptus, Evolution has been approved by the Vegan Society and by Cruelty Free Bunny.
Started by founder, Blué O’Connor, as a result of a successful crowd-funding campaign, Kings will be helping to fund two charities in Blué’s hometown of Bristol, Mentoring Plus and Bristol Mind, as well as the national male suicide-prevention charity, Calm.
Left - Kings - Evolution 50ml EDT - £39.99, 10ml EDT - £14.99, 1.7ml EDT Sample Bottle - £2.49
TheChicGeek says, “Price isn’t a signifier of anything anymore, especially in fragrance, and this is great value.
This is really good. It starts with a liquoricey top which turns into an attractive warm rubber. I’m not crazy about the branding, but nobody sees that when their salivating around your neck!
It is suppose to smell like a jungle in bloom, but it’s drier than that. It’s a slow mover from the top to the base, but the journey keeps you engaged. It’s a calming fragrance which also complements its mental health connections. In a nutshell, it smells like sexy car mats!"
Disclosure - The product was gifted by Kings to review
Jo Malone has teamed up with Savile Row tailors, Huntsman to release 4 fragrances aimed at men. They are: Amber & Patchouli, Assam & Grapefruit, Birch & Black Pepper and Whisky & Cedarwood.
TheChicGeek says, “The first thing to point out is that none of these fragrances are new. They were all part of Jo Malone’s limited summer editions over the last few years - see more here - As many of those probably passed guys by, they’ve brought back these four.
Huntsman is one of Savile Row’s most famously expensive tailors, but doesn’t have the design identity to play around with, so I think they’ve done really well just replicating the gold huntsman lettering on the front window onto the bottle. Simple yet classy.
They could have gone all silly prices with this, but I’m glad they’ve kept it in line with the rest of the Jo Malone brand. My favourites are Assam & Grapefruit, which gives you that yummy and zesty Earl Grey aroma and Birch & Black Pepper, which is the simple punchy notes of smokey birch tar and spicy black pepper. The Amber is fairly forgettable and the Whisky one just isn’t boozy enough for us boys. Cheers!”
Available at Jo Malone London Boutiques and at Huntsman Savile Row - 100ml - £120 each
Due to its size and location New Zealand is sadly often overlooked and forgotten about. It’s indigenous culture isn’t particularly well known, about from the rugby haka or Jane Campion’s The Piano, so it’s a pleasure to see a niche fragrance company coming from that part of the world and from somebody with that background.
Founded by Tiffany Jeans - I know, great name! - she was born into a family of strong, creative women and immersed in Maori culture. After a career in fashion and advertising she turned to craft. It was during her wedding to film director Andrew Morton she crafted a series of hand- cast skull candles for each guest, individually wrapped in tulle. From this grew a range of bespoke perfumes, candles and finely crafted curios.
Left - Curionoir - 'Cellar Feels' Parfum Extrait - 50ml - £150
Now, a collection of seven fragrances and matching candles, housed in handblown glass made by Monmouth Glass next to the Curionoir flagship store in Auckland.
I particularly liked ‘Cellar Feels’ which smells like Welch’s grape juice with a woody and leather base.
Called Curionoir, because Tiffany always worked at night, it feels like the fragrances are deeply personal and a mystical gift from the lush ferny undergrowth of New Zealand. I just wish more of this was reflected in the packaging and branding. I want to learn more.
Right - Feather My Tears Candle - £125.50
“With 'the modernist', I designed a fragrance that has that self-assured simplicity. Bergamot opens the parfum and leads the way to a oral centre. Freesia felt like the perfect choice in this journey from citrus to timber. I love the sweet and sharp sensation of freesia and the way it softens and radiates a cleanliness on the skin. This is cradled in the warm hands of frankincense. I wanted a dominant, distinguished base and its complexity is enriched with labdanum, timber and even fruit, creating an autograph for the wearer. I’m not a big fan of scents that arrive before you do and linger in the room after you’ve left. For sure, be powerful and be bold, but let them remember how you smell, not just the smell.” says John Evans, Fragrance Designer & Founder of the modernist fragrance.
Taking a break from corporate life, John worked full-time as a writer and has seven novels published. Following his re-entry into the world of finance, John lived and worked in the US and Australia for a number of years. He and Andrew, his partner, returned to the UK in 2008 where John was the Managing Director of a global business.
Leaving full time work at the end of 2014, and at Andrew's suggestion, John began formalising a lifelong passion for fine fragrance. Soon after, John authored the modernist manifesto and founded the house of modernist fragrance. Formulated in London and made in England, this is his first fragrance.
Left - The Modernist - 50ml - £145
TheChicGeek says, “It’s refreshing when somebody has put everything into a single fragrance. This feels like a labour of love and another welcome addition to the family of small British perfume producers. I’m not sure whether ‘the modernist’ is the name of the company or the fragrance or both. But, I really like it.
It has a cool, almost menthol, freshness at the top, with an element of turpentine. Then, a peppery layer which moves into spice and the comforting and intoxicating depth of the frankincense. It doesn’t dominate, but has a delicate richness, very much like John’s goal in the creation - see his quote above. The packaging reminds me of Miller Harris.”
Azzaro’s Wanted By Night is a woody-oriental-spicy eau de parfum created by Quentin Bisch and Michel Girard and is a new twist on the original 'Wanted' released a couple of years ago.
A woody base note is brought on by white cedar. The juiciness of a sparkling mandarin, zested with a hint of its nectar, is mixed with warm, spicy cinnamon notes and the woody tonalities of cedarwood.
Left - Wanted's controversial bottle. Maybe it's a big seller in the US?! Azzaro Wanted By Night - 50ml - EDP - £46
Red cedarwood’s explosive charisma and the flamboyance of cumin, creates a heart crafted in precious woods with a warm, nectary tobacco blend is reinforced with Atlas cedarwood.
TheChicGeek says, “When you get to my age it should be more Wanted By Teatime! This has a sticky, synthetic smell, which I like. Nothing smells natural about this which I find more interesting.
The cinnamon gives it a youthful and warming edge. There aren’t any layers here. It is, what it is, then disappears relatively quickly, especially for an eau de parfum.
The bottle, which is the shape of a fully-loaded gun chamber, got quite a lot of flack when it first appeared two years ago, but it does look slightly better here with darker juice. The advert, on the other hand, looks like a 16 year old’s version of sophisticated. Don’t get me started about that eyebrow…”
Right - Who signs this stuff off? *raises eyebrow*