LOS ANGELES — On the heels of a strong spring, California retailers are expecting good gains in both men’s and women’s fragrances for holiday season ’94.

“We’re having a very successful fragrance year in both men’s and women’s,” said Margo Scavarda, senior vice president for Los Angeles-based The Broadway Stores Inc. “Right now, we’re leading up to double digits, and we’re looking for the fragrance category to lead and provide the greatest increases of the fall season.”

Although there has been little change in the pecking order of best-selling fragrances, retailers here expect that launches may create a bit of a shift.

Top performers in the women’s arena at The Broadway include Calvin Klein’s Eternity and Escape, Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds and Jessica McClintock. In the men’s category, Calvin Klein’s Eternity for Men and Obsession for Men, Drakkar Noir and Cool Water lead the pack.

Scavarda expects these favorites — as well as such women’s classics as Opium, Chanel and Obsession — to hold their ground at holiday time. She said she also has high hopes for new Sun Moon Stars by Karl Lagerfeld in women’s and Ralph Lauren’s Polo Sport and Wings for Men by Giorgio Beverly Hills in men’s.

At San Francisco-based I. Magnin, best-selling brands in women’s include classics by Chanel, Guerlain and Hermès, plus relative newcomers Thierry Mugler’s Angel, Donna Karan New York and Giorgio Armani’s Gio, while the store’s most outstanding performer is Annick Goutal.

“We introduced Annick Goutal in the United States, so we have a major customer profile with it,” explained Adrienne Hoyer, senior vice president and general merchandise manager at Magnin’s.

Hoyer said she is optimistic about the store’s launches this fall, including L’Eau d’Issey by Issey Miyake, Parfums Chopard’s Casmir and Champagne from Yves Saint Laurent, as well as the reintroduction of Arpège by Lanvin.

In men’s, Magnin’s bestsellers include Escape for Men and Eternity for Men, Guerlain, Hermès and Aramis, according to Hoyer. She said she is most excited about fall launches Horizon by Guy Laroche, Privé de Jean Patou, Egoiste Platinum from Chanel and the rollout of Polo Sport.

Despite the full launch schedule, Hoyer said, “The classics will continue to perform well for us.”

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Hoyer said she expects double-digit increases in women’s fragrances and single-digit increases in men’s for the holiday season.

At Fresno-based Gottchalks, which will open two new stores by the holiday season, the top-selling scents in men’s and women’s are “pretty much the status quo,” said Bob Wiser, divisional merchandise manager.

“In women’s the Estée Lauder fragrances are very strong in my stores, also Trésor by Lancôme, the Calvin Klein fragrances, Sunflowers by Elizabeth Arden and Wings by Giorgio [Beverly Hills],” he said. “In men’s, the big sellers are the Calvin Klein scents, Aramis, Drakkar Noir, Cool Water and Polo.

“I’m looking at at least 15 percent increases in both men’s and women’s fragrances for holiday,” Wiser continued. “Right now, I’m up in double digits on both, but I predict it will be a little better for men’s than women’s for holiday. I have three strong new entries in men’s: Wings for Men, Horizon and the ‘shared’ fragrance, Calvin Klein’s CK One.”

The launch of CK One is causing much excitement — and speculation — among California retailers across the board.

Wiser predicts a hit, declaring, “Calvin Klein can do no wrong.”

The question, though, is: Who will be more attracted to the bi-gender fragrance, men or women? Some retailers say men aren’t quite ready to take the step toward a unisex scent.

Magnin’s will display the fragrance in both men’s and women’s areas, Hoyer said, adding, “It will probably appeal more to women, but it’s a really tough call.”

The Broadway’s Scavarda said CK One “will be positioned throughout the store in different categories other than cosmetics — wherever we carry Calvin Klein — to let the customer decide.”

She added that age, rather than gender, might prove the determining factor.

“It will be a new consumer — a much younger consumer, someone that goes for a very light scent — because CK One is more like an after-bath splash,” Scavarda said.

The scent’s light quality may in fact be the secret of its success, as West Coast retailers point out that light, fresh, citrus and cool are the fragrance buzzwords of the moment.

“Look at Tendre Poison, look at Wings, look at a lot of the introductions in the last two years — they’re all lighter fragrances,” Scavarda said.

Echoed Wiser: “The eau fraiche scent is the big trend now. One of my hottest in women’s is Sunflowers by Elizabeth Arden, and obviously CK One is going after that same type of customer. Lighter and a little bit less expensive — customers are reacting to price a bit more now, too.”

Price tends to factor into the fragrance formula more strongly at holiday time, and not surprisingly, value-oriented gift sets and promotional giveaways are a priority.

“Promotional items are very important, in particular, value sets, and we have aggressively negotiated exclusive value sets with many of the brands — we have 11 this year versus three last year,” said Hoyer.

“Usually, the sets include items of high quality; our customer does not want to give up quality for price,” Hoyer said. “And we like our promotions to be exclusive, like the Donna Karan backpack set — a little added value the customer cannot get anyplace else.”

California retailers tend to agree that the men’s fragrance business continues to grow at a faster rate than women’s, but they point out that the men’s arena has so much growing to do.

“The men’s business is still growing faster than women’s, especially at our store, where it had been very underdeveloped,” said Hoyer. “Now that we’re really going after the business aggressively and paying much more attention to it, we are seeing major increases.”

For the most part, retailers here believe that men are becoming more aware of what’s available for them, with the message coming across both from the stores’ greater emphasis on the area and from the manufacturers’ advertising, masculine packaging and promotional items.

“Men’s buying habits are changing based on how we present the fragrance in our stores. We position most of the fragrances adjacent to men’s furnishings and ready-to-wear,” said Hoyer.

But while men are more visible on the floor in the fragrance areas and have started purchasing more products for their own use, retailers believe that the buying power for the most part remains in women’s hands.

“I think the percentage of men buying their own product is up slightly in a store like mine, but I’m still heavily in a market dominated by women purchasers,” said Wiser. “With holiday, we get into 95 percent women buying for men.”

Hoyer noted, “It is interesting that women still do over 60 percent of the men’s purchasing, even though they used to do even more of it. Women still tend to be more aware of new fragrance introductions, and they are the ones more likely to give it a try.”