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Unlike the Emperor's new clothes that he couldn't see but he thought everyone else COULD, this is a fragrance that you can't smell on yourself, but that everyone else CAN.
Thread attended The Department Store's 'In Conversation' panel discussion on Thursday 26th April, featuring Escentric Molecules' Jeff Lounds and his partner, Style.com's Tim Blanks, a London-based, New Zealand-born journalist.
The two men discussed their rise to success and their unconventional marketing strategy in a talk titled 'The Rise of the Niche.'
I would have loved to hear more from Tim Blanks about his past in fashion nournalism, but this was a night for talking about Escentric Molecules, and I found it completely fascinating. In fact, I came away buzzing with all the infectious passion the men have for creating their brand. Key words I took away from the discussion were 'loyalty', 'niche', and 'ground-breaking.'
The fragrance brand Escentric Molecules is full of contradictions like this. It is quietly famous. It feels 'niche' yet it sells half a million units. They don't advertise. At all. They had celebrities (Naomi Campbell, Elton John, and Kate Moss amongst many, many others) take it to tipping point and beyond by seeking it out, and telling their influential friends. It got a reputation as being a pheromone-like fragrance that attracts men and women to you when you wear it, and they shared humorous anecdotes of people wearing it and being continuously hit upon!
Department stores such as Harrods and Bloomingdales turned it down (there's no bottle cap, or sexy advertising; they just didn't get it) and to this day are not permitted to stock it; instead, they are loyal to Harvey Nichols and later, Liberty. It is completely made within the UK.
It was interesting to hear that Karen Walker was there right from the start as a person "who gets it" and stocks the fragrances in Karen Walker stores in New Zealand.
Below: Karen Walker listening to the discussion, with a standing-room only crowd, upstairs at The Department Store.
Below: Erica Kent, Indiana Munn, Jiali Yang.
Below: Guests at 'In Conversation.'
Below right: Kelvin Soh.
Below: Angela Crane and her partner.
Words and photos, Megan Robinson
27 April 2012
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