By  on April 15, 1994

LOS ANGELES -- Sophisticated classics and sporty newcomers are making for steady gains in men's fragrances among West Coast retailers. Even treatment products for men, always a tough sell, are on the rise.

At San Francisco-based I. Magnin, Calvin Klein's Escape is on top, followed by Hermes, Guerlain, Aramis and Calvin Klein's Eternity. Chanel, Armani and Annick Goutal also rank among the leaders. The lineup of best-sellers has changed only slightly in the last year.

"There's been a little shift -- Joop was number five last year, and now it's fallen out of the top 10, for example," said Mark Busche, men's fragrance buyer at Magnin's. "And Eternity was number three last year, so it's lost a bit of ground, but Escape has come in. What we see as a constant is that Hermes and Guerlain will stay in the top three."

Calvin Klein's three men's fragrances -- Eternity, Obsession and Escape -- are out in front at Gottschalks, a Fresno, Calif.-based chain, according to Bob Wiser, divisional merchandise manager for cosmetics and accessories.

Drakkar Noir, Lancaster's Cool Water, Aramis and Ralph Lauren's Polo and Safari round out the retailer's other top men's scents, said Wiser, who indicated the lineup has remained fairly stable over the past year.

"Of the recent launches," he said, "the one we've been happiest with is Joop. It's done very well and actually got into our top 10."

Joop is also a hot seller at Bon Marche, keeping pace with The retailer's other leaders, Escape and Obsession, according to men's fragrance buyer Lori Hansberry.

"The business with Joop just keeps growing," she said. "I brought it in thinking that it would just be a nice fragrance. We didn't think it would be small, but we had no idea that it would keep increasing its business, overachieving its plan. It's really been sort of a sleeper."

The men's fragrance phenomenon of the moment, however, is Ralph Lauren's Polo Sport. The company's claims that the new scent is well ahead of plan are supported by the retailers that carry it.

"Polo Sport is tremendously successful," said Bon Marche's Hansberry. "It has surpassed its plan for us. They're approaching it as a lifestyle type of fragrance, advertising it for its real sports-minded appeal. It's a full skin fitness line, and the price points are great."

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