Just as art embodies creative self-expression, so does artistic, or niche, perfumery. And like art, it is original, individual, produced in limited quantities, available via exclusive means, and elicits a deeply emotional response.
It is an alternative to mass-produced fragrance – for those who want to smell different to everyone else and not have a big brand associated with their signature scent. Niche perfumery harks back to a pre-industrial age when all perfume was essentially niche. But, today, what it means is that it’s created by a small, independent house, using the highest quality natural ingredients, and often presented in understated bottles. The narratives aren’t delivered in glossy advertising campaigns featuring famous faces and an alluring soundtrack, announcing who you will be when you wear the fragrance. With niche, you write your own story.
A high concentration of natural, high-quality essential oils account for its potency – and, in part, for its higher price. But what you get is a premium, limited-edition work of art inside a simple apothecary-style bottle, rather than the bottle being the star of the show. Perhaps unsurprisingly a huge percentage of the cost of non-niche perfume is for the luxurious packaging. And who doesn’t love to display a beautiful bottle? But when we’re talking about something that is an extension of your personality, perhaps there’s more to consider.
When one wanders into a minimalist, laboratory-clean niche-perfumery boutique, tucked away on an obscure city lane, they will be searching for a connection. And as the intimate process of sampling begins, one will notice, among other things, what a vastly different experience it is to browsing in a chain store. Among the heady scents bound in each glass phial will be a personal message, patiently waiting to be discovered. And when the right one is whispered, or even shouted, only you will hear it.
The irony with the niche industry is that it is growing. It’s gaining a huge following with consumers, and many small houses are being bought out by large luxury conglomerates. Hopefully the bought-out brands will be able to stay true to their roots and that creativity isn’t compromised in favor of commercialism. This rise in popularity has also inspired a wave of niche perfumery entrepreneurs globally, so the industry is continuing to thrive. It may just, one day, end up being less niche.