After two years of falling sales, the U.S. fragrance business may eke out at least a small gain for the second half — fueled by a staggering number of new global product launches with equally staggering advertising budgets, particularly on the men’s side.
“[The second half] has the potential to be positive,” said Karen Grant, global industry analyst and vice president of beauty at The NPD Group. “There’s so much activity and so much attention — all the big guns are coming out. It might be a positive fall for the first time in two years.”
For 2006 and 2007, the prestige fragrance business finished each year at 1 percent down, with the total men’s and women’s business totalling $2.94 billion for last year. In the two previous years — 2004 and 2005 — volume was ahead by 1 percent for each year.
“We’re cautiously optimistic [for fall],” said Debbie Murtha, senior vice president of cosmetics at the Macy’s Merchandising Group. “There’s definitely more launches than last year and they have an opportunity to build on last year’s success.”
The trend this year has been strengthening, despite a disastrous first quarter in which U.S. department store sales were down 9 percent. Since then, the arrow has been pointing in the right direction. April was up 4 percent, compared to a 1 percent gain last year, and May was ahead by 3 percent, compared to a drop of 6 percent last year, according to NPD. Grant added that Mother’s Day sales were also positive — by a margin of 3 or 4 percent- — despite fewerspring launches. There were less than 90 spring launches this year versus more than 100 last year, Grant noted. She added that some men’s launches from last year — Diesel’s Fuel for Life, Usher He and Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue Pour Homme — continued to show strength this year. In addition, the launches of Boss Pure and Ed Hardy broke into the top 20. On the women’s side, the classics carried the season both in France and the U.S., Grant said.
But below the surface, the long-term prospects seem disquieting. Through NPD’s consumer preference Fragrance Track survey, NPD has detected a worrying drop in usage. From 2006 to 2007, the number of women aged 18-24 saying they use fragrance dropped from 88 percent to 85 percent. Teen girls aged 13 to 17 showed a 6 percent drop from 81 percent to 75 percent in the same time period. In what Grant refers to as the “Axe effect,” the number of teen boys using fragrance dropped from 81 percent in 2005 to 63 percent in 2006 and has since dropped to 60 percent.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast