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Brooks Brothers’ New Take on Scents

Retailer to launch men's and women's duo one year after Inter Parfums deal.

Brooks Brothers, which originally entered the fragrance business in the Fifties and Sixties, will make its first foray into women’s fragrance in 50 years with the introduction this fall of Brooks Brothers New York for Ladies.

The scent is part of a duo that includes Brooks Brothers New York for Gentlemen. Both fragrances are due to arrive at the firm’s 230 locations in mid-November — the result of a specialty retail and licensing deal the retailer signed in November 2007 with Inter Parfums Inc.

“Of everything we sell, fragrance is probably one of the greatest customer relationship-enhancing products, one that people get connected to more than any other product,” said Claudio Del Vecchio, chairman and chief executive officer of Brooks Bros. “Our women’s [fashion] business was growing, so we were looking for an opportunity to launch a fragrance there as well. We wanted [these] to be our new signature fragrances.”

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During the mid-Fifties, the retailer launched a women’s scent, which was marketed as a gift item and was off the market by the late Fifties.

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The retailer’s three existing men’s scents — Brooks Brothers, Country Club, and 1818, which was among the firm’s first fragrances — will remain on the market as the Brooks Brothers New York duo is launched. The existing scents will, however, be repackaged and Inter Parfums will take over their production.

“There’s always an evolution, a change in what people recognize as fashionable,” said Del Vecchio, discussing the new scents and the repackaging strategy. “What was popular 30 years ago may not be popular today.”

While Brooks Bros. customers are typically male and female professionals in their late 40s, Jean Madar, president and ceo of Inter Parfums, noted that the idea was to translate the impression of the retailer’s Generations of Style ad campaign, which depicts males ranging in age from eight to 60 years old from the same family.

“It’s conservative in appearance, but warm in its approach to life,” said Madar.

Fragrance supplier Firmenich composed the women’s eau de parfum and the men’s eau de toilette.

Perfumer Richard Herpin mixed the men’s scent, which has top notes of bergamot, verbena, petitgrain and mandarin; a heart of carnation, orris absolute, dewy greens, basil and thyme, and base notes of oakmoss, vetiver and musk.

The women’s scent, which was blended by Ilias Ermenidis, opens with orange blossom absolute, bergamot, dewy greens and pear blossom; has middle notes of tuberose, hyacinth, freesia and jasmine petals and a drydown of orris absolute, musk, soft woods and rose wood.

The Brooks Brothers New York bottles, which are made of cut crystal and feature clean lines in a nod to the Brooks Bros. pinstripes, were inspired by Victorian toiletry kits and designed by Sam Odonohue.

The fragrances will be available in 3.4-oz. and 1.7-oz. sizes. The Gentlemen’s scents will be priced at $75 and $55 and be accompanied at launch with a 5-oz. aftershave balm for $35. The Ladies’ scents will cost $85 and $65 and the line will include a 5-oz. body cream for $40.

Brooks Bros. operates 210 stores, including 95 outlets and 20 additional airport locations. The scents will be merchandised using newly designed display units near the stores’ checkout areas.

“They will be given prime real estate in all the stores,” said Del Vecchio.

While executives wouldn’t comment on sales expectations, industry sources estimate the scents could generate in excess of $8 million in first-year retail sales volume.

Plans call for the new scents to enter international wholesale distribution in Asia and Europe in the spring, a network that is to include specialty and department store locations.

“Fragrance will allow us [to enter] markets where we don’t have a lot of stores,” said Del Vecchio, who noted the firm has eight stores in Europe. “It will enhance the brand in general.”

For Inter Parfums, the Brooks Bros. launch is “a validation of a business model we started with Gap Inc.,” said Madar, referring to the firm’s specialty retail division, which produces Gap and Banana Republic personal care products. Citing Brooks Bros.’ position as an established brand, he added, “Brooks Bros. [fragrance] has long-term potential.”

The scents will be promoted primarily via in-store sampling and direct-to-consumer advertising, including the store’s catalogue, which has total annual circulation of about five million.