John Varvatos Vintage

John Varvatos is stepping up efforts in fragrance and skin care with a new scent, called Vintage, and expanded distribution of Skin, his men's treatment line.

NEW YORK — John Varvatos is stepping up efforts in fragrance and skin care with a new scent, called Vintage, and expanded distribution of Skin, his men’s treatment line.

While John Varvatos Enterprises generates roughly $50 million in annual sales marketing apparel, bags, accessories and footwear — including Converse shoes and clothing — the designer is bolstering his beauty business.

Varvatos is set to launch Vintage, his second scent, in August. It’s billed as a special edition, or seasonal version, of the designer’s two-year-old signature scent. Meanwhile, Varvatos’ year-old skin care line is slowly being expanded in limited distribution in the U.S. and internationally. Both lines are produced by licensee Zirh International Corp., which is owned by Shiseido.

In terms of the whole business, “fragrance is important,” Varvatos said during an interview here Tuesday. “It’s great for brand exposure — and skin care is another part of that world.”

He noted that having a fragrance distribution network that’s much wider than his fashion distribution base “has brought a lot of consumers to the brand.” His original scent is carried in 1,050 global doors, including 550 in the U.S., and his men’s fashion is carried in 100-plus doors in the U.S.

While sales of his first scent are estimated by industry sources to be about $20 million annually, the new scent could garner sales of $4 million in Varvatos’ full fragrance distribution network. Vintage will be available in a 4.2-oz. bottle priced at $70.

The designer’s skin care line is carried at 57 Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue doors. It is also in Varvatos’ five stores in the U.S., where counters have been installed to spotlight the 17-item line.

Varvatos indicated that while specialized designer skin care can work, it’s perhaps best suited to limited distribution. “There are plans to expand [Skin],” he said, pointing to a deal to go into Selfridges with the line. “You need the right people to service it — and time,” said Varvatos, “We’re not looking at 500 doors, we want it to be niche,” he added, acknowledging Skin’s full distribution base could eventually reach 200 doors in the U.S. “The market is still growing quickly [and] it depends on how quickly guys get educated.”

This story first appeared in the March 31, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

When asked to characterize market penetration of a brand like Jean Paul Gaultier’s Tout Beau Tout Propre makeup collection for men, Varvatos responded, “Very niche; [it’s] a small market.”

“John Varvatos’ brand is aspirational,” said Purvi Padia, Zirh’s senior director of marketing. “If [one] can’t go into the fashion, [one] can go into the fragrance.” Varvatos’ fragrance distribution network includes retailers such as Saks, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Barneys New York and Sephora.

The designer’s new scent is described as having a “darker and [more] gentlemanly-like” feel than the first. Vintage employs some of the same olfactory accords found in Varvatos’ first scent. Like the original scent, Rodrigo Flores-Roux of Quest International blended Vintage, which is described as an aromatic chypre. It blends top notes of Moroccan coastal plants, rhubarb and quince paste; a heart of oakmoss, patchouli, balsam fir and floral notes, and a base of rare woods with tonka beans, tobacco and suede.

“The launch of Vintage will infuse newness and excitement into the John Varvatos fragrance collection,” said Zirh president Kaoru Takagi. “It will enable the Varvatos consumer to have a bit of variety while still staying within the world of Varvatos, where he has established a comfort level.”

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