Niche perfumes aren’t like your traditional Chanel number 5s or Polo Ralph Lauren. They have names like Milk Wasted and Last Exit For The Lost. And with scent notes of fresh dirt and motor oil, they aren’t for everybody.
From a favorite dish soap to the iconic bouquet of luxury brands, most scents are created by one of five top fragrance houses. Their perfumers often study in France, and their scents are designed to follow popular trends and appeal to the masses. Niche fragrances aren’t associated with any major house. They’re the work of artists drawing from their personal experiences.
And they’re big business. The Financial Review reported that niche fragrances took up 10% of the fragrance market in 2019. In 2020, a market research company found niche fragrances were outperforming traditional fragrances, despite COVID. Millennials and Gen Z are searching for more unique personal scents, fueling their popularity.
In her podcast Articles of Interest, Avery Trufelman compared fragrance to music, with the big perfume houses producing pop, and indie perfumers creating everything else.