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Surf’s Up for Oxbow Masterbrand

Oxbow is testing the water in the fragrance category.

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PARIS — Oxbow is testing the water in the fragrance category.

The French surfwear brand and Lorience, its beauty licensee, hope to make a splash with a debut signature masterbrand starting in March.

While Oxbow’s activewear and brightly hued apparel has a core demographic aged between 25 and 35, the scents combine brightly colored packaging, accessible prices and youth-oriented juices in order to reach out to the 18- to 35-year-old set.

A cannabis accord in the men’s scent may also appeal to young rebels.

“It’s a nod to the ‘Point Break’ connotation of surfing,” said Lorience marketing director Jerome Gavinet, referring to the 1991 film. Lorience acquired Oxbow’s beauty license in July 2006.

“We wanted the scents to be a little daring and strong with original packaging and a marketing approach focused on the surfers themselves,” added Eric Bonnem, general manager of Oxbow.

The scents’ flacons, designed by Thierry Faucon, are meant to recall a turtle, which is a symbol of protection for surfers. The women’s is a patent red and the men’s patent blue.

The duo will bow in March in between 700 and 800 perfumeries in France. While distribution is yet to be secured, it is expected to roll out internationally through summer.

Industry sources estimate the fragrances could generate first-year wholesale volume of between 500,000 euros, or $740,147 at current exchange, and 700,000 euros, or $1 million, in France.

Created by Mane perfumer Alexis Didier, the woody aromatic men’s scent contains top notes of cola, lime, mint and cannabis. Midnotes include driftwood, maté, a sand accord and tamarind wood, while patchouli, vetiver, white moss and white musk form its base.

Drom’s Philippe Romano concocted the floral fruity citrus women’s fragrance with top notes of bergamot, grapefruit, bitter orange and watermelon. Midnotes include sea breeze, violet, raspberry and jasmine, while cedar, maté leaves, patchouli, suede and musk make up its base.

Single-page advertising features Oxbow spokespeople and longboard champions Duane De Soto and Jennifer Flannigan. The ads, which are similar to Oxbow’s spring-summer clothing campaign, show the two surfing a wave as it seems to burst fragrance bottles.

A buzz marketing strategy will target bloggers ahead of the launch while surfers will give out samples in camper vans outside perfumeries. To motivate staff, Lorience will offer a surfing lesson with De Soto or Flannigan to the best performing sales assistant.

The eaux de toilette will be available as 50- and 90-ml. sprays priced at 47 euros and 59 euros, respectively, or $69 and $86. In addition, a 30-ml. version of the women’s fragrance will retail for 33 euros, or $48.

Fragrance is part of Oxbow’s parent company Anneyron, France-based LaFuma Groupe’s drive to create an entire brand universe for Oxbow, which already has licensing deals with the Zannier Group for children’s clothing and Simop for eyewear. Under its license with Lorience, sun care products will be introduced in 2009.

LaFuma, which also owns mountainwear brand Millet, acquired Oxbow in June 2005 and plans to grow the business to 200 million euros, or $293 million, within five years, according to Bonnem.

For the nine months ended Sept. 30, Oxbow generated sales of 71 million euros, or $89 million at average exchange, and is forecasting full-year growth of 10 percent versus 2006.

Plans include the opening of three to four new stores a year. After France and Europe, the U.S., where it set up a subsidiary this summer, and Australia are its strongest markets.

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