Byline: Matthew W. Evans

NEW YORK — At a time when the noise of prestige fragrance launches has grown deafening, one Canadian company is doing things the old-fashioned way — but with a twist.
With mat;, a new scent under license from Japanese fashion designer Masaki Matsushima, Toronto-based Quandrant Cosmetics Corp. is taking a slow and steady approach. Instead of a nationwide launch in thousands of doors, the fragrance will be available today in only one New York City door — Jeffrey — as well as Jeffrey in Atlanta and 26 Nordstrom doors.
This strategy of starting small and acting carefully is designed to build life and longevity into the niche brand. “Rather than a corporate bang-it-out, just-about-dollars approach,” said Quadrant chairman Hugh Winters, “the goal is not to blow out distribution to other stores.”
The idea is that hip and trendy boutique-goers will want an exclusive fragrance to go along with their exclusive apparel. If this rings true, industry sources estimate that first-year retail sales for mat; could reach a volume of $3 million to $4 million. And, if all goes well, retail sales could double in the brand’s second year, sources said. Revenue volume at wholesale could eventually reach the $10 million to $20 million range. “We’re not looking for a baby brand,” Winters remarked.
Matsushima, 37, has presented apparel collections in Paris since the mid-Nineties and is known in some circles as a “fashion engineer” due to the fact that he frequently uses architectural elements in his designs. The geometric mat; bottle design and the fragrance are his. The juice, with top notes of bamboo and mango, a heart of lotus flower and water jasmine, and a base of crystal musk and reed wood, is supplied by Takasago International Corp and produced by Paris house Panouge S.A.
The plan is to launch only an eau de parfum in two sizes, because “the bulk of the business is done by the two leading skus” in a line, Winters said. A 2.7-oz. bottle of mat; is priced at $85 and an identically shaped 1.35-oz. bottle is priced at $60. As many as four ancillaries, including body lotion and gel, are slated for this fall. By that time, mat; is expected to be in 150 doors. A men’s version is also in the works.
While there won’t be big-budget advertising, Quadrant is embarking upon a sampling program that includes 20,000 deluxe .22-oz. sample bottles and 1 million 0.03-oz. enveloped vials. Quadrant also sees the product being featured in retailer catalogs. “Key partners, on a regional basis, who care, get behind it and promote the business are paramount to its success,” said Winters.

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