The Fueguia 1833 "Msheireb" scent.

MILAN — While many cosmetics companies are converting their production to manufacture hand sanitizers to aid the respective countries in fighting the coronavirus outbreak, Argentinian fragrance house Fueguia 1833 has released its sanitizing perfume collection.

Dubbed Fueguia BioActive Molecules, the range aims to offer the brand’s signature scents in a sanitizing version for skin and textiles.

In particular, the formulation created by the label’s founder Julian Bedel incorporates four types of disinfection working synergically. It claims to blend 45 medicine plants extracts with biocide effects “with 70 percent of organic ethanol, surfactants breaking viruses’ lipid bilayer envelopes and stabilized chlorine dioxide, a compound know for it’s effectiveness in deactivating viruses.”

“I started Fueguia 1833 not as a company that creates perfumes, rather as one exploring the power of traditional medicine in the region of Patagonia, Chaco, Pampa and Andes,” said Bedel, adding that his approach has always pivoted in “creating scented products from a scientific, artistic mind not from a commercial one.”

The exponential spread of the COVID-19 accelerated the launch of the project, which has been in the works for over a year and represents “a natural evolution of the benefits of our products and our research.”

“Our idea was to launch our full biocide cosmetics range during 2020,” said Bedel. “What we’ve anticipated is the Skin & Textile range and we will leave the rest for the second part of the year and [release it at a] slower pace. This is also a ‘pre-launch’ because we will keep updating our formula if we find new conclusions on our current research.”

The sanitizing version of Fueguia 1833's "Valle de la Luna" scent.

The sanitizing version of Fueguia 1833’s “Valle de la Luna” scent.  Courtesy Photo

In particular, the formulation is produced in the company’s Italian factory and laboratory, which are still operative and to be expanded this year to incorporate new technologies. So far, 80 out of the more than 100 Fueguia 1833 fragrances have been offered in the sanitizing version on the brand’s e-commerce — including Agua Magnoliana, Valle de la Luna, Linnaeus and Thays, among others — but more will be available in the coming months.

Available in the single 100-ml. format, the Fueguia BioActive Molecules scents retail from 90 euros to 165 euros, depending on the fragrance. Prices are significantly less expensive compared to the pure perfumes alternatives: for instance, the Agua Magnoliana fragrance retailing 266 euros for 100-ml. is priced 100 euros in its sanitizing version.

“I see this new format mainly as a perfume for textile, that besides perfuming with our scent it sanitizes the fabrics it is applied on, either they’re delicate clothes or curtains and sofas,” said Bedel. ” That’s why we have a spray pump that can [spritz] a larger volume of product. The price also reflects the lower quantity of perfume essence present in each product, though it is still strong.”

Another, more neutral hand sanitizing product is also included in the collection, but doesn’t reference any existing Fueguia 1833 perfume. “It still has a mild scent given by the blend of 45 plants, though, but it only comes in 30 ml. and was thought as a portable sanitizer,” said Bedel of the product, retailing at 29 euros.

Fueguia 1833 skin sanitizer.

Fueguia 1833 skin sanitizer.  Courtesy Photo

In joining other companies fighting the COVID-19 spread in Italy, Fueguia 1833 will donate part of its monthly production of this neutral solution in a special 50-ml. format to the Milanese hospitals in need. “We’ve contacted the vice mayor of Milan, the Red Cross and other organizations to offer the product and have received their requests for volumes,” said Bedel, who couldn’t address the exact quantity that will be distributed as “right now there is a restrict access to ethanol, so depending on how much alcohol we receive, we will donate part of the production.”

“Besides this specific moment that we are living, we will maintain the offer of products for hospitals after the crisis as an ongoing project,” he revealed.

In addition to manufacturing the sanitizing products, the company’s Italian factory is operating to finalize orders for the brand’s shops that are still open for business and e-commerce.

At the moment, only the two stores in Japan’s Roppongi and Shinjuku districts are open, out of the brand’s total eight units, which are located across Milan, London, New York and Buenos Aires.

Despite the global retail shutdown, Bedel still plans to open the brand’s new unit in Kyoto’s Gion by the end of the year, and he’s evaluating real estate availability in Paris and London to launch an additional door.

The founder didn’t sound concerned about the impacts the epidemic will have on yearly sales. “The beauty is that we don’t work with a sales objective, so in our microcosmos every year is a surprise with or without a major disruption,” he said. “I come from Argentina, a very difficult country to do business and every year is like living with a pandemic, so since I launched my first company when I was 18 years old, I’ve learned to take it very easy and to know that extreme things happen all the time.”

For Bedel, the main goal this year is to consolidate the brand’s prime markets — including the U.S., Europe, Argentina and Uruguay along with Japan — and implement in-store activities, providing insights on ingredients, extractions techniques and bespoke experiences to the customers, soon to be grouped under the “Fueguia Society” fidelity program.

With most of its stores currently shut down, the company focused on developing its approach digitally as it accelerated the improvement of its online platform. “Our online presence was non-existent. Before the closure of our shops we had a proto-web site. Now we still have it but we’re working very fast in creating the missing contents, implementing sample products, worldwide delivery and starting to put some money in promoting it. The fact that we formulate all of our products [internally] gives us a lot of valuable information on ingredients so we can create more didactic ways to explain our visitors the specifics on each perfume.”

According to the founder, this will be a key asset especially when the health crisis is over. “More people will be sensitive to key sustainable issues directly associated with the product’s origins and manufacturing,” he forecast.

“Since the beginning, I’ve been producing perfumes without polycyclic musks, with plastic-free packaging, using now 100 percent eolian energy in our manufacturing process, creating a foundation to work with communities in Argentina. I hope that the customer behavior will move toward a curiosity in wanting to know more behind the manufacturing of a brand before making a purchase,” said Bedel. “This pandemic will leave us a lot of lessons and I’m confident it will create new purchase patterns in consumers. These changes will happen immediately and will present an extra challenge for a lot of companies of the industry: For some it will be very difficult to adapt without being seen as green washers and [as those] not adding substance to their philosophy.”

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