After spending close to two years (and more, for some of us) masked up and having our sense of smell taken away from us, it is not unusual that the fragrance industry has rebounded with a boom after the pandemic. After taking a massive hit in 2020, luxury brands are adapting to new trends, followed by other mid and low-range brands. However, the fragrance industry managed to stay afloat throughout the pandemic, becoming an affordable luxury to many.
The fragrance industry, like other beauty and fashion players, has now started addressing the need to start catering to a more Gen-Z audience while pivoting from the blingy, rigidly-gendered methods of product development and marketing to a gender-neutral, sustainable, polished and clean aesthetic. Fragrances are quickly replacing bags and shoes as the newest status symbol, and wearing a perfume that will make strangers whip their heads around as they pass you to ask what fragrance you are wearing is a new cultural identifier. However, like bags and shoes, fragrances are not dependent on exclusivity but have more to do with identity. The wearer communicates who they are through the perfume they wear.
Unsurprisingly, TikTok has been a burgeoning advocate for fragrances. The content is almost completely un-monetised and non-sponsored, making TikTok perfume recommendation videos brutally honest and completely pure. From suggesting budget dupes for luxury fragrances, calling out overhyped fragrances, or even introducing niche perfumes to the larger public, TikTok (or PerfumeTok as it is better known) has built a community around fragrance, and created a more welcoming atmosphere around the industry, instead of gatekeeping it for those who are in-the-know and financially able to purchase the luxury goods.
We know that scent is the sense most likely to invoke certain feelings. It can be nostalgia or joy or even confidence and just one whiff of a scent can make you feel a certain way. Little wonder that people are scrambling to find fragrances that will suit them. Indian brands are definitely not far behind in this. Slowly but surely, we are catching up in the global fragrance race. Check out a few of these homegrown brands that are changing the game for fragrances in India.
I. Bombay Perfumery
Launched in 2016, Bombay Perfumery has been around for a while and creates fragrances that are reminiscent of individualistic experiences and create distinct memories when worn. From perfumer Manan Gandhi, the ingredients are sourced from around the world and are exceedingly rare and pure. Along with perfumes, they also create candles with their unique scents. They hope to create fragrances that pay homage to the rich culture of perfumatory in India, making their brand ‘Indian in sensibility, global in outlook’ as they put it.
Check them out here.
II. Naso Profumi
Recently launched brand Naso Profumi focuses on a youthful approach to age-old, authentic Indian ingredients and uses attar (essential oil derived from botanical sources) as a base for all its perfumes. Staying true to the Indian way of scent creation, their processes are completely sustainable and are created to suit all skin types. Reinventing a traditional process with modern sensibilities, Naso preaches familiarity in the unknown and reinvents faded memories through fragrance.
Find them here.
III. The Perfumatory
Set to launch in August 2022, perfumer Jay Vira wants his brand to cater to the loud, strong, and heady scents of Indian people. An avid lover of perfume, even as a child, Vira is launching The Perfumatory as a hub for his effervescent blends and signature collections. With a high concentration of high-quality oil and ingredients, he will be launching signature creations like Oriental Floral, Tobacco Vanilla Intense, and Citrus Leather. He says, “I want my brand to be driven by transparency and affordability” and as such, has narrowed down his seven launch fragrances through months of trial and error.
Get an insider’s look at the brand here.
IV. Special Mentions: Byredo and D.S. & Durga
Though not strictly speaking homegrown, both indie brands Byredo and D.S. & Durga have founders with Indian roots, Ben Gorham and Kavi Moltz respectively. With their fragrances Mumbai Noise (Byredo) and Radio Bombay (D.S. & Durga), they pay homage to the streets of Mumbai from Chembur to Colaba, with a gentle, welcoming impression on your olfactory senses. Though both have the woody notes of sandalwood, that is where the similarity ends. With Mumbai Noise as the more contemporary of the two, reminiscent of a modern city that is alive and breathing, Radio Bombay takes us into the Bombay of the 70s with its transistor radios and copper wires.
Check them both out here and here.
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