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The Indie Players

As interest in the niche fragrance category grows, indie brands look to fresh ingredients and influencer campaigns to keep up the momentum.

Jo Malone London Poppy & Barley Cologne

Of Note: Part of the brand’s limited-edition English Fields collection, Poppy & Barley is a celebration of Jo Malone London’s British heritage. For inspiration, Celine Roux, head of global fragrance at Jo Malone London, looked to the British harvest and wildflowers to create the collection’s five fragrances. “It’s unusual to use ingredients that have a lot of texture,” she said. “[The collection] explores new olfactive territories that we maybe don’t do as much in our regular lines.”

While the fragrance celebrates the brand’s British heritage, it also showcases its olfactive differentiation by pairing a grain with a floral. “In terms of creativity and innovation, for this collection we have no limits,” said Jean-Guillaume Trottier, global president of Jo Malone London. “It’s a carte blanche for [the perfumer], where they can explore their own limits in terms of olfactive creativity.”

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Details: Poppy & Barley Cologne, $70 for 1-oz., is launching at 270 doors, including Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. The brand declined to comment on estimated sales.

Nest Fragrances Wisteria Blue

Of Note: Among all of Nest Fragrance’s fine fragrance offerings, founder Laura Slatkin saw one unfilled white space: a watery floral. “The whole philosophy behind our fine fragrance collection is to offer a variety of fragrances that tap each category,” she said. “Our customers really enjoy playing with our fragrances and fragrance wardrobing rather than having a signature scent.”

Inspired by the wisteria flowers she saw on a trip to Charleston, S.C., Slatkin worked with Givaudan senior perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux who used wisteria essence extracted from Marie Antoinette’s garden in Versailles as the heart of the fragrance.

Since entering Sephora in the fall of 2013, the brand has attracted a strong Millennial following and is expecting the fragrance to perform well among the age group and with its mature audience through QVC.

Details: Wisteria Blue, $72 for 1.7-oz., is launching at 361 Sephora doors in the U.S. Industry sources estimate first year sales will reach $2 million.

Atelier Cologne Iris Rebelle Cologne Absolue

Of Note: Iris Rebelle is Atelier Cologne’s first addition to its Chic Absolu collection since the brand launched in 2009. While the other four fragrances — Grand Neroli, Bois Blonds, Trèfle Pur and Oolang Infini — are on the deeper side, Iris Rebelle is meant to be a fresh take on an iris scent. “There is a trend today of moving away from that dark, deep perfume to something clean and transparent,” said Gerard Camme, president and partner of Atelier Cologne, which was acquired by L’Oréal in 2016. “True perfume lovers, the ones aware of what’s happening in the world of perfumery, will be attracted to the green and woody notes.”

To launch the fragrance, which is available exclusively at Sephora and at the brand’s free-standing stores, the brand is embarking on its first influencer initiative. On the new influencer initiative, Camme said: “We are shifting our focus to alliances with influencers and amping up our digital footprint in an effort to gain broader appeal as today’s customer is moving in this direction.”

Details: Iris Rebelle, $150 for 3.4-oz., is launching at all Sephora doors and the brand’s free-standing boutiques. The brand declined to comment on estimated retail sales.

Commodity Bois

Of Note: Since the brand launched in 2014, Commodity has been focused on its retail partnerships. Four years and 18 fragrances later, the brand is now introducing a new fragrance, Commodity Bois, that will be sold exclusively on its own e-commerce site before hitting retail distribution. “We’re kicking off 2018 by giving a renewed importance to our direct-to-consumer sales,” said Ash Huzenlaub, chief executive officer and cofounder of Commodity. “We wanted a special launch with a great fragrance and thought Commodity Bois would be the best foot forward.”

Part of the brand’s Black Collection, an assortment of darker, unisex fragrances, Commodity Bois is the first fragrance created by master perfumer Frank Voelkl. For its olfactive differentiation, Voelkl paired bois de cedar with Australian sandalwood and pink pepper to create the woodsy scent. “The fragrance market is dominated by mainstream fragrances,” Huzenlaub continued. “We’re focused on niche and indie experiences. The Commodity Bois experience is like no other woods-based scent.”

Details: Commodity Bois, $105 for 3.4-oz., is launching exclusively on Commodity’s web site before entering other worldwide partners. The brand declined to comment on estimated retail sales.