By  on April 15, 1994

DALLAS -- The men's fragrance business is blossoming in the Southwest, with sales ahead 3 to 18 percent, according to area retailers.

Stores in the Dallas area are betting on a blockbuster Father's Day, as well.

Retailers reported men are becoming nearly as concerned about aging as they are about smelling good, and as a result treatment sales to men are on the rise -- from acid-based anti-aging brands intended to fight wrinkles, to moisturizers and soothing soaps that double as shaving creams.

John Stabenau, vice president and divisional merchandise manager at Neiman Marcus, here, said the men's business is ahead by at least 10 percent and is expected to continue at the same clip for Father's Day and fall.

The list of fragrance bestsellers at Neiman's includes Escada for Men, Annick Goutal, Boucheron for Men, Pasha, Santos de Cartier and Hermes, Stabenau noted.

The specialty store chain launched Aramis's Lift Off alpha-hydroxy acid-based cream in early March, and Stabenau said it had proven magnetic to consumers and was selling at a rapid pace, although he wouldn't talk numbers.

Ralph Lauren's Polo Sport hit Neiman's around March 20 and had immediately entered the store's list of top 10 bestsellers, Stabenau added.

Although he was bullish about the rest of the year, Stabenau said fall launch plans at Neiman's are still being finalized.

Kathy Hebert, fragrance buyer at J.C. Penney Co. Inc., here, said men's fragrance sales are up 3 percent so far this spring.

"Six of our top 10 men's fragrances are ahead by at least 10 percent, though," said Hebert, who assumed her post in February after serving as women's suit buyer at Penney's.

Marianne Porada, the former fragrance buyer, is now buyer for the chain's Delicates innerwear division.

Hebert said the men's bestsellers at Penney's include Quorum by Puig, Elizabeth Taylor's Passion for Men, Halston Z-14, Francesco Smalto, Royal Copenhagen and Baryshnikov for Men.

Anthracite by Jacomo is Penney's hottest men's newcomer, Hebert noted.

In time for Father's Day in June, the chain will launch Moods Uomo by Krizia, along with Perry Ellis for Men.To promote Father's Day business, several men's fragrances, as well as gift and value sets, will be featured in a color preprint, set to run shortly before Father's Day and targeted to reach 45 million readers, Hebert said.

Barbara Wentworth, cosmetics manager at Stanley Korshak, a women's and men's specialty store here, said men's toiletries sales were up 5 to 8 percent.

She attributed the gains to customers' heightened awareness of fragrances from advertising, and from momentum generated by brand loyalty.

She said she expects gains of at least the same caliber for the Father's Day selling period.

Korshak introduced Byblos earlier this year and it already has a following, Wentworth noted.

Among the store's other bestsellers are Cool Water, Vepro's Versace, Tino Cosma, Armani from Cosmair and Chanel Pour Monsieur.

"Men increasingly are buying their own fragrances," noted Wentworth. "Before, the wife or girlfriend made a lot of the purchases."

She added that heavier scents are still on a downward trend.

"The lighter fragrances are still hot, not musky or sweet," she said. "In fact, scents are almost androgynous."

Alan Morgan, general manager at Pope's, a two-unit women's and men's specialty operation based in Shreveport, La., said men's fragrance sales are flat against last year and are expected to trend accordingly for the rest of the year.

He said best-selling men's brands at Pope's are Tino Cosma, Theodore's Spoiled, Ralph Lauren's Polo and several brands from Caswell-Massey.

Judy Craigo, fragrance buyer at Weiss & Goldring, a 93-year-old women's and men's specialty store based in Alexandria, La., also said men's sales were flat compared with last year.

She predicted that Father's Day business should be up at least 10 percent, though, which she attributed to several new launches that should hit stores by then. The newcomers include a trio from Lancaster Group USA: Joop, Zino Davidoff and Cool Water.

Current bestsellers at Weiss & Goldring, according to Craigo, are classic Aramis, Christian Dior's Fahrenheit, Tuscany from Aramis and Chanel Pour Monsieur.

Though mass merchants such as Wal-Mart are prevalent in Louisiana, Craigo said she's still luring plenty of business with her store's emphasis on service, which includes free delivery and concerted attempts to educate consumers about products.Judi Siff, divisional merchandise manager for cosmetics at SRI Inc., Houston, a family department and specialty store chain, said men's toiletries were ahead by less than 10 percent, adding that gift-with-purchase and value sets were highlighting sales.

Lagerfeld and Lagerfeld Photo, both distributed by Parfums International, as well as Cosmair's Drakkar Noir and Nautica, are among the bestsellers, Siff noted.

She said various promotional vehicles that SRI has planned for Father's Day should spur the business by almost 10 percent.

Wilhelmina Von Heflick, cosmetics buyer at The Village Pharmacy, here, said the store's men's business is up by 18 percent against last year.

"As men discover our prestige mix, business keeps going up," explained Von Heflick.

She projected Father's Day toiletries sales would be up by at least 20 percent, adding that they outpaced Mother's Day business last year.

"Bath and body products are starting to get popular for Mother's Day presents; it isn't just fragrances anymore," Von Heflick noted. "But for men, fragrances are king."

Bestsellers at The Village Pharmacy are Pancaldi, 4711, Elizabeth Arden's Sandalwood, Ralph Lauren's Polo, Calvin Klein's original men's fragrance, Baryshnikov for Men, Jacomo, Halston Z-12 and Z-14, Drakkar Noir and brands from Pierre Balmain.

Treatment sales to men are on the rise, reported Von Heflick, with Elizabeth Arden's Ceramide line and Alpha-Ceramide, L'OrÄal's PlÄnitude and Aida Gray among popular women's lines asked for or bought by women. Items with sunblocks also are in demand, she noted.

"Men are concerned about aging and the overall condition of their skin," she said. "They want to look good and aren't at all shy about it."

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