Do you try to keep up to date with the niche market?
Are you interested in the new brands and new perfumes launching every day?
Is it even possible to stay au courant?
No. I don’t even try. It has been getting out of hand for a while, and now niche is definitely no longer niche, it has become a mass market with sky-high prices and exotic labels.
I purposely formulate my answer rather rash, but I’d like to start a discussion (stay friendly please!) about the topic.
Is niche still niche or are we all kidding ourselves?
You will not be able to have a discussion with me as I could not agree more with you! There is too much and not enough differentiation for an average attention span. That said, niche for me now is micro-perfumery in the artisanal mode, such as 4160 Tuesdays, Papillon or Tauer to name a few in Europe. Theirs is a message I get despite all the white noise out there.
Very well put, Profumina. We agree completely.
I don’t keep up with niche releases either! This is partly due to the sheer volume and also my increasing wariness about what is what / worthy of a sniff. I often wait till I read a favourable review from a blogger whose taste I know to investigate something further, and not always then . Am very inert these days. 🙂
I agree. I gave up ordering samples, there are so many new perfumers and brands popping up that I mainly just try to keep up with brands I like such as Tauer, MDCI, etc.
A good strategy for sure.
Inert – exactly my feeling too. 🙂
I also go after a recommendation, but just can’t be bothered to pursue anything on my own.
Honestly, very little niche perfumes are niche. It’s become all about marketing how you’re exclusive and smelling great while using “hard-to-find” ingredients only to have them immersed into synthetic musks. (that’s how I see today’s market)
Therefore, I no longer try and follow the new releases, I actually wait until someone recommends something and then see if I can try it without much hassle.
Haha, well said. Fancy marketing and white musk is sadly a very good description of too many brands these days.
About a week ago I wrote a blog article focusing on a newly launched brand,and of course I touched upon some of the topics related to your question.It has all definitely become too much and too superficial.To answer your question no,I don’t.It’s simply too tiring and you come across too many mediocre fragrances for your effort.I follow some brands that I personally like and recommendations from bloggers who have similar tastes to mine and that’s it.
Will look up your post.
It is sad how this industry has degenerated into mediocrity.
What is Niche? The very word is a warning signal. I could write what I really think but shall refrain. There are a very few, extremely talented perfumers working, and I do follow what they are doing. I can count them on the fingers of one hand, with one finger missing. 😉 That said, I do enjoy going to the shows in Italy, I have made some friends there and it is fun hanging out in the scene. Any excuse to go down to Bella Italia!
If I read positive things from people I know share similar ideas or tastes to me, then I will give it a go. But probably won´t like it. Hahahaha! Hugs. xxxx
That is my point, dear Val, the word niche used to mean something, now it has degerated into a warning signal. So sad.
Once there was niche parfumery, small and exquisite, artisanal. And then everybody wanted to become niche and they diluted the category into something pretentious and sometimes ridiculous.
I stopped trying to follow it, now I’m just watching : if sombody is good sooner or later I’ll hear about them, just like the amazing Papillon.
So very well said, LJG. But you are right, thankfully the really good stuff comes through the noise eventually.
Unfortunatelly I just stopped keeping track (as far as I could) of the new niche releases. And the new tendency of producing 100 ml or 200 ml bottles are so crazy?!? If you buy a niche perfume it is because you know/ have most of the mainsteram perfumes. So how can anyone convince me to buy 200 ml of Annick Goutal, for example or Les Eclusives de Chanel of 200 ml if I have enough perfumes to open my own store?!
The trend is bigger, better(?), more expensive. Niche is the new mass market.
While I totally agree with what others have said, I still try to keep up with things to an extent. Living in London makes it relatively easy to come across new brands and releases and I am always hopeful to find something interesting. And traveling is a great excuse to search difficult to find brands. I have found a violet that I love in Berlin, and my next purchase will be from the newest PG range, so there are still beautiful things out there…
There are beautiful things out there, no doubt about that, but it is hard to find them between dozens of meh lines that pretend to be oh so special. But I agree the hunt can still be fun, you just have to be prepared to wade through a huge bog of mediocrity to get there.
As a fellow Londoner, I agree with Sabine in that I still find it exciting to discover new releases in store and exploring perfume lines, new and old. I am all for new brands coming out and developing new fragrances, but I think the issue for me is how they approach the market. As a perfume explorer, I really appreciate brands like Hiram Green and Ex Idolo who release their fragrances into the market at a slower pace. It allows me more of a chance to appreciate their work while also looking forward to what they will release next. I think a lot of new brands feel they have to release with an entire perfume wardrobe, and I find that just comes across as overwhelming. Furthermore, it feels a bit forced as well. Like they are releasing eight perfumes because they feel that they have to have one of each genre. One lesson that I have learned in my past year of really studying perfume is that perfume by its very nature is inherently pleasing. Even when it’s kinda shit, it can still be pretty good, kind of like pizza. However, finding a moving fragrance that works as a whole body and not just a series of questionable notes that simmers down into a universally pleasing drydown is the challenge.
Perfume as pizza, what a concept! Maybe I’ve just had too much pizza over the years… 🙂
I stopped looking almost a year ago at niche line fragrances. Even mainstream releases become boring as it seems like a variation of the same thing. I have been staying with the classics and content with that for now. It is too bad because there are probably some great fragrances emerging. Problem is that there are so many new releases it is is easier for me to stay with the ones I know.
I completely understand. Glad you found your perfume loves with the classics, enjoy them while they are still to be found.
I’ve stopped keeping track (and by keeping track, I mean writing down in the “to smell” list of my perfume spreadsheet) of new releases, whether ‘niche’ or mainstream. The sheer volume is crazy! But I wouldn’t pass up on trying a new brand in a boutique because otherwise, how would we discover awesome brands such as Papillon Perfumery? I just don’t actively seek out samples of new brands unless many of my peers have raved about something. But I am of course wary about brands that come onto the market with a great many number of releases, all within a short span of time. Sorry, but quality often comes with a painstaking amount of time and effort. And these days it takes a great deal just to move me.
We are so oversaturated by the excess of new available perfumes, it is, as you say, hard to be moved, hard to get interested.
Niche is just a label. I don’t skip news based on perceived categorization. I get my perfume news from Now Smell This and reviews from a variety of blogs including this one. With easy access to New York stores (and STC if I’m desperate), I’m all set. It’s not work…it’s for pleasure.
Yes, blogs are also how I get my perfume news but I don’t have access to easy sampling so I ignore most of it. There are some excellent small artisans, especially on the west coast of the US, that I might make an effort to sample if something sounds good, but I’m more interested in the work of perfumers than brands.The lines that debut ten scents at once without easy access to samples and “aspirational” pricing are the worst “niche” offenders imo.
“Rare ingredients harvested by monks at full moon in every bottle of our new 16 scent line up”. It gets old.
As long as it is pleasurable for you, by all means, keep at it, hajusuuri. I’m glad you are not defeated by the high volume of perfume output on the market.
It seems that we are all in agreement. Once in a while I will find something that I think is new
and different, at least different for me, but trying to keep up with new releases is a waste of time
and money.. After years of loving fragrance, you know your own tastes and the companies that
suit you. I’ll try anything by Hermès or my new interest Byredo. I am thankful for your blog and
for Fragrantica for keeping me informed.
Very true, once you know what you like, you don’t feel the need to try them all anymore. Also, you can’t. 😉
Hey there Birgit,
I still love to try new stuff and do actively seek it out. What I am noticing is that the mainstream is lifting its game in some small areas and the general downward shift in boundary pushing from the niche crews has meant they are very nearly the same thing. As is so often said we are drowning in new and it’s mostly not becoming a higher quality but more and more and more of same.
What that does do though is makes it easier to tell if something is genuinely interesting; and part of the fun surprise is that lift you get when a new fragrance clicks. It’s getting more rare for me to be swept off my feet but that could just be me becoming a bit jaded rather than a drop in quality, or not….
More of the same – that’s it in a nutshell. And it is understandable, you cannot invent the wheel over and over again. But still they try…
There are just too many new releases, ‘niche’ is losing it’s meaning nowadays. I fear perfume quality is going downhill. So many new perfumes are replicas of each other. Rather than bewilder myself with new releases, I will rediscover (or to be more precise, ‘discover’) old fragrances which are new to me. I love the Caron’s, Houbigants, Piguets along with Serge Lutens, Diptyque and Penhaligons. My eldest daughter is 21 and she loves Guerlain’s L’Heure Bleu, not just for it’s gorgeous scent but also it’s romantic connections. With so many beautiful perfumes on my ‘lust list’, I’m afraid the new ones will have to go to the back of a very long (fragrant) queue!
That is a very sensible approach, Annette. There are so many great “oldies” out there to explore.
Apparently your daughter has inherited your great taste!
I think there are some brilliant perfumers working today and it can be quite difficult to top these as new additions come onto the scene. I try to keep up in my mind but don’t try everything by any means. There is always some great work coming out on the market. It can be good to go to a perfume trade show or I imagine something like Sniffapalooza in the US where you can get to try oodles of perfumes and feel like you’re up to date for at least a couple of months! I do think if you live in Paris or London it’s probably reasonably easy to keep up as well. Many brands are in it for the Malle / Le Labo prize money these days and the lucrative Russian and Middle Eastern cash rich consumers. To me it seems a little like a gold rush at present that won’t be sustained. I actually couldn’t quite believe what some new brands were charging for their perfumes at Esxence. Many were lacklustre yet were not batting an eyelid at saying a 50ml was 150 Euro which makes Malle look like a complete bargain in comparison.
Gold rush is a very apt comparison, and just like a real one, it won’t be sustainable for long. We’ll see which brands are the real gold that survives in the end.
I can’t keep up and have never tried. I rely on bloggers like you and others. I found Mito through you and Val, and Puredistance as well. Otherwise, I know what notes tend to call to me (green, galbanum, tuberose, and lily, you had me at hello!) and I sample things in my wheelhouse. I occasionally try things out of my comfort zone, but seldom with success – I have never liked a Tom Ford, and I have tried several. (Not liking Tom Ford is financially a plus.) As to niche – I probably jumped on the bandwagon with or after the masses, so I suppose I helped make niche mainstream. Mea culpa! I have the worst of both worlds … niche is now mainstream, and where I live I still can’t physically find it, so decants it is!
It is hardly your fault. 😉
Glad you found such great perfumes through bloggers, word of mouth is still a good thing.
For at least a couple of year now I stopped buying samples (with just a handful of exemptions) so in this sense I’m not keeping up with any new releases – niche or not. Having said that, if I have free access, I’ll at least smell almost any new perfume (Body Works, VS, etc. not included) on paper: I’m constantly hoping to find something amazing. I know it’s naïve but as long as I do not pay for the privilege to test something I don’t get disappointed too badly.
I love your qualitfication of the statement of testing anything – on paper. It takes something impressive indeed to get skinspace at all, so I’m completely with you on this.
These days I’ve got a pretty scattershot approach to dealing with ‘niche’ (note scare quotes – I totally agree with everyone’s comments about the category!); mostly I only sample non-duty free/dept store stuff when it gets positive reviews by bloggers or commenters I trust. Certainly I don’t keep up with the newest brands at all systematically. If there’s too much choice I just get overwhelmed & lose my bearings, so I tend to stick with brands that I discovered a few years ago, in the first heady flush of my perfume mania…Vero Kern, MDCI, Nicolai.
Those three are such solid choices, you surely do well by sticking with them.