Nowadays, it seems as though every fashion house has at least one signature scent in its repertoire. Today, high-end Italian label Gucci is worth more than $37.9 billion, with a significant slice of its profits coming from the luxury fragrance market. While few labels have extensive perfume lines, any self-respecting fashion brand understands the importance of fragrance. Rather than being a simple money-spinner, a well-crafted fragrance can boost brand synergy and complement those ready-to-wear staples.
When Did Fashion Brands Start Making Perfume?
It’s tempting to think that fashion and fragrance are a fairly new combination. In fact, designers have been at it for more than a century. The first brand to dip its toes was Chanel. By the early 1920s, Coco Chanel had already become a leading light of the French fashion scene, with her designs renowned the world over. By 1921, Chanel was ready to expand its offering to include fragrance for the first time. Chanel Nº5 set the trend for what was to come. Although the first few bottles were dished to friends of the designer, it became more widely available the following year. By 1924, it entered mass production. Within a couple of decades, it was one of the best-selling fragrances on the planet, raking in more than $9 million annually. That’s more than $151 million when adjusted for inflation.
Other French fashion houses like Lanvin and Patou followed suit. Designer fragrances quickly became synonymous with style, with consumers considering them a statement piece that was just as important as the garments they were wearing.
How Fragrance Enhances Fashion
If you’re someone who has no issues spending a premium on designer labels, you probably think twice about spending a small fortune on fragrance. Rather than appealing to brand loyalists, designers turn to fragrance to enhance their collections.
A lot of work goes into producing a typical formula. Take Armani perfume as an example. This iconic label is renowned for bold themes and trendsetting fashion. Unsurprisingly, Armani’s fragrance offering follows suit. Si perfume is the perfect complement to a woman’s wardrobe, with soft florals and feminine notes that team effortlessly with those style staples. Perfumes allow designers to deliver a complete sensory experience. While garments bring the look and feel, only fragrance can nail down that olfactory identity.
Fragrance Makes Fashion Brands More Accessible
Many luxury brands are considered out of the price range of most consumers. However, designer fragrances are a far more affordable way for people to access haute couture. It’s far easier for a young consumer to find the money for a bottle of perfume than to pick up something from a recently-released capsule collection. Nonetheless, these purchases can make loyal customers of aspirational consumers.
Designers also turn to fragrance as a marketing tactic. For many companies, it’s the fragrance category that’s driving real revenue growth. In 2022, the luxury perfume market was estimated to be worth around $11.9 billion. By 2027, the international market is forecast to surge beyond the $16 billion mark. Even as people turn away from big-ticket items like designer fashion, the appetite for premium fragrance remains. Fashion houses can use this to reposition their brand, covering losses elsewhere and reigniting interest in past and present collections.