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The Future of Niche Fragrances Discussed at Pitti Fragranze

New trends and distribution strategies took center stage at the fair’s 14th edition.

Running from Sept. 9 to 11, the 14th edition of the Pitti Fragranze beauty trade show put the future of niche fragrances under the spotlight. Held in Florence’s Stazione Leopolda, an old railway station turned into an exhibition space, the executives and designers of 271 brands (including 176 foreign and 80 new names) showcased their new scents and discussed their distribution and business strategies for the future.

Carlos Huber, creator of Arquiste Parfumeur, presented for the first time two separate fragrances for him and for her, called El and Ella respectively, slated to retail both at 170 euros, or $191 at current exchange, for the 100 ml. format. Fond of the idea of the encounter between different people and cultures, Huber explained how he took inspiration from past summer liaisons set in Acapulco, Mexico, and narrated by his father, to create two different olfactory perspectives of the same memory. He predicted that Ella, in particular, could be successful in New York, due to the affinity with his bestseller scent in the city, which is Flor y Canto.

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“In New York, there is a tradition to wear tuberose and white floral-based scents, which are very chic and feminine,” he said. He noted how the general trend will center more and more on “chypre and fougère fragrances, which are classic, that are about to be revisited for a new generation.”

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Arquiste Parfumeur is only one of the brands distributed by Finmark, which counts niche siblings Amouage and Parfums de Marly, among others. Finmark’s general manager Andrea Catalani underscored how the company’s biggest market is Italy, which registered double-digit growth, up to 15 percent, from the previous year. This is the result of a strategy that focuses on further developing the company’s network, rather than expanding it through new doors. This approach consolidated the trust bond between Finmark and his partners, whom the company tries to keep interested with new beauty offerings. “Before the summer, we added Miami Beach Suncare [to our portfolio]” said Catalani, explaining how this operation succeeded in targeting a specific kind of customers that still enter in a perfumery to “grant a dream,” and don’t necessarily shop to satisfy a need. The La Vallée Switzerland skin-care line was also recently added to Finmark’s portfolio.

Striking at customers’ imagination is Intertrade Group’s ambition as well. The firm presented the latest products of its 22 brands, including Swedish skin-care line Verso and niche fragrances from Agonist and Blood Concept, through a scenic, dinner-themed mise-en-place. “We always do inspirational installations,” said Intertrade Group’s president Celso Fadelli. “Our goal is to give our clients the idea they can add a value to the product they sell,” he explained, underscoring how adding content is a way to revamp the sales experience in shops.

The company owns the Avery Perfume Gallery shop chains, a format present in Milan, Florence, Modena and 15 international cities worldwide, including London, New York, Los Angeles and Paris. The integration between these shops and the distribution to third party, is at the core of Intertrade Group’s strategy for the next few years. “Our job is to make these two channels grow together, at the same time, so that one helps the other,” said Fadelli.

“The most performing markets for us right now are [the] U.K., the U.S. and the Middle East,” Fadelli noted, revealing that new openings are on the firm’s agenda. “I can’t say much about it, but we’re planning openings in Latin America,” Fadelli said, “It would be the first time we enter in that market and we would like to do it with the retail, first.”

Three-channel distribution is a source of pride for Agonist’s founders Christine and Niclas Lydeen, who launched their White Lies fragrance at Pitti. “We are in concept stores, in department stores and in perfumeries,” said Christine. Niclas explained the brand is interesting enough for big department stores, while its stylish and contemporary aura helped them to be included in fashion stores, like Antonioli in Milan and L’Eclaireur in Paris. “And then also the actual juice fits in the perfumeries, where people don’t care so much about the packaging…so it’s an honor to be in all those places, it’s kind of recognition to us,” he concluded.

Blood Concept’s creators Antonio Zuddas and Giovanni Castelli presented their new genderless scents XX and XY, hoping they will keep up the pace with the success their line had so far in Russia, the U.S. and U.K., where they have six selling points only in London. “The goal is to keep growing, of course,” said Zuddas, “but also start to tell our story a little bit more, through a flagship store, hopefully.”

Fueguia 1833’s founder Julian Bedel prefers the direct approach, too. “Ideally, we tend not to work with distributors because I like to talk with my customers, I like to take care of them and to follow them, to defend my product,” said Bedel. At Pitti, Fueguia 1833 presented eight new fragrances and a line of Perfume Oils. “Oil is the way I use perfumes,” said Bedel, “because it is very focused…. It’s something you can experience very close to you and intimate.” He also stressed the importance of sustainability, as embodied by the brand’s biodegradable bottles, paper wrapping and wood boxes. The brand recently installed itself in Italy, opening a manufacturing and a showroom-boutique space, called Casa Fueguia, in Milan’s tony Via della Spiga, and will inaugurate a stand-alone store at 21 Crosby St. in New York by November.

The international appeal of Pitti Fragranze grew considerably in the last five years. This edition, the number of foreign buyers increased by 4 percent, counting 675 foreign attendees out of a total of 2,150 buyers. Increases came from France (up 23 percent), Spain (up 7 percent), Ukraine (up 11 percent), while the U.K., U.S. and Middle East stood solid in their presence. This year, the fair registered more than 3,800 visitors, coming from all over the world.