There was once an old George Gershwin/Cole Porter tune called: Anything Goes. Written in the 1930s, the lyrics were shocking for the times. Today, however, their risqué implications would be considered commonplace and hardly raise an eyebrow even among conservative listeners.
Still, changing times permeate human perception and often cause fissures in conventional thinking. Suddenly, there are boundaries to break, new ideas to replace older customs and heretofore unspoken and taboo preferences.
Gender division is such a concept, and the increase in the sales of gender-neutral products in the last few years, particularly fragrances, mirror a shift from stereotypic, gender-specific products to those with a more neutral note.
According to Mintel, a market research authority, societal views on gender have indeed changed, and these new attitudes are endorsed by today’s consumers. This silent metamorphosis is perhaps most visible in the dazzling realms of beauty, fashion and fine perfumes.
The “gender revolution,” which had its roots in the 1960s, has since permeated every aspect of contemporary fashion and design, including unisex fragrance, a bold amalgam that represents modern individuality and convenience.
Calvin Klein’s CK One unisex scent line, which was developed some some twenty five years ago, was the very first to venture across the gender binary line. It articulated a burgeoning perspective reflecting liberation from prevailing customs.
Since CK One was introduced, brands from all over the fragrance landscape, including luxurious icons such as Chanel and Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton aka (LVMH), have developed their own line of unisex fragrances.
What Defines A Unisex Fragrance?
While certainly a question in the eye of the beholder, so to speak, simplicity is a major factor in influencing consumer attraction to a unisex scent. Always aesthetically appealing with pragmatic designs, these fragrances do not address stereotypical concepts of femininity with overwhelmingly floral bouquets.
In the words of Mariya Nurislamova, CEO and co-founder of Scentbird: ”Technically, all scents can be considered unisex. However, brands would typically market fruit or floral-heavy fragrances as feminine, whereas scents featuring heady notes like wood, leather, and spices, would be considered masculine.”
According to another “nose expert“, “A fragrance has no gender. A rose remains a rose and woody oud remains as it is. A unisex scent is one that a guy would feel as comfortable wearing as a woman… This means integrating male and female scents in such a way that they create a balance.”
Unisex fragrances are easy to create and include masculine notes because modern women are more open about experimenting with them. These scents shatter conventional mores, and in their determination to push that proverbial envelope as far as it will go, dare to be different with new crisp, clean and fresh notes that accentuate individualism and experimentation.
Eleanor Dwyer, a beauty and fashion research associate at Euromonitor International commented: “Increasingly, people want to express their individual personalities through their choice of scent. That means not wanting to be assigned a standard fragrance based on gender, but rather on its unique personal appeal…Mass fragrances have not benefited from this trend because they are so ubiquitous that they prohibit individualization…”
What Influences The Choice of A Unisex Fragrance?
The idea that pink is for girls and blue is for boys is age old, and the definition of beauty, while elusive and subjective, has been traditionally segregated for many, many decades. But as Bob Dylan used to sing, “the times they are a-changing,” and standards of beauty have become reflections of societal perspectives.
They have shifted and become integral to the burgeoning trends of minimalism and convenience. Contemporary perfumers have until recent times found it easier to market and sell perfumes as either masculine or feminine. More specifically, this boils down to sweet floral scents for women and earthy, and musky fragrances for men.
There has been a step back into times long past, albeit in reality, it marks a forward move because the change is sprinkled with insight. Today’s world, with its emphasis on busy lifestyles encourages anyone to wear any fragrance they choose.
The issue is even a bit deeper, for the choice to wear any scent not only reflects the desire to smell good, but also the idea of smelling like one’s true self. This trend has also been noted in boutique fragrance houses with their many natural and organic-based formulations based on the quality of the ingredients and conventional manufacturing protocols.
What Do Unisex Fragrances Offer That Others Don’t?
Asexual fragrances have an appeal that is unlike that of other perfumes, and are a bit off the beaten path when it comes to expectations. For one thing, these scents scream exclusivity and a divergence from conventional routines. The unexpected becomes almost commonplace, and usually translates into comments such as: “you smell different.”
As is the case with other fragrances, they often evoke nostalgia of times past, but unlike others, they can be worn in all seasons of the year and never go out of style. Unisex scents also render a feeling of rejuvenation and hope.
Psychological Implications And Unisex Fragrances
Perfume experts believe that connecting a fragrance note to gender is a Victorian concept, which is absent from modern thinking. The late 19th century marked a shift in the production of perfume featuring a movement away from single-flower exclusive essences to blended formulas. Sex became the focus of perfume marketing, and today’s consumers tend to select fragrances that suit their personalities.
The essence of unisex perfumes is that they have a universal appeal and powerful allure that fuses art and sophisticated chemistry. Their fragrance notes attract a populace that has long grown tired of floral and musky odors; they represent a happy medium between classic feminine florals and spicy, musky scents.
Implications about the character of unisex fragrances concern their democratic, somewhat defiant and independent nature. These elements expose gender identity neutrally and with grace and symmetry. They make a quiet statement about a more open approach in defining a personal impression.
Unisex fragrances breathe new life into existing attitudes and perspectives.
Gender-neutral attitudes and fluidity of character are becoming more and more prevalent in defining formulations. In large part, this is due to the subjective quality of these scents. Unisex perfumes interact with one’s distinctive smell and their notes are immediately altered upon contact with skin chemistry.
In tandem with natural body heat, each scent transforms into a one-of-a-kind note that carries a specific personal touch. No two individuals wearing the same perfume ever smell the same. These aspects are seductive, and draw consumers from both sexes, but more from women.
Studies and Statistics
A 2013 study conducted by Anna Lindqvist and entitled: Gender Categorization of Perfumes: The Difference between Odour Perception and Commercial Classification was published in the journal, Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research (NORA) Volume 21, 2013 Issue 3.
The study examined the concept that the odor perception of perfumes is linked to gender. This connection was tested by 18 participants (aged 20–30 years) and 12 gender categorized perfumes. The study’s focus was to examine how the participants’ gender categorizations corresponded to the commercial classifications of the diverse fragrances.
Results indicated that perceived gender associations did not correspond with the gender dichotomy of femininity and masculinity. Only the selected perfumes that were perceived as extremely feminine or masculine were categorized in the same way as the commercial classifications.
In 2010, 17% of all fragrance launches were 17% un unisex. In 2018, that number jumped to 51% and has only continued to rise well into the year 2020. In 2018, the global flavor and fragrance market was valued at about 20.75 billion U.S. dollars. marking an increase of 7.12% from previous years. Fifty percent of millennials believe that gender does not exist and fragrance companies are rapidly adjusting to that new perception.
In the words of another expert, ”Brands are seeing the changes in consumer attitudes concerning gender. We don’t need to fully blow out that this fragrance is over-the-top masculine or feminine. Brands are reacting by building and crafting products that speak to all.”
Alpha Aromatics and Unisex Fragrances
We are a creator, manufacturer and purveyor of custom fragrances whose roots stretch back more than seven decades. Our chemists and team rely on extensive research to keep on top of industry trends, and our state-of-the-art laboratories, which are located in suburban Pittsburgh, are equipped with the best tools within the realm of industrial science that money can buy.
Our compositions are used for a myriad of purposes that include: superior quality perfumes, personal care products, candles and diffusers, fragrances for home products, private label manufacturers, turnkey packaging companies and toll blending (the specialty service of custom mixing a company’s unique formula into a final product).
Our master perfumers know there is no substitute for skill and experience, and that it can take years to develop and perfect the expertise required to create the perfect scent for any purpose. The following represent some of our most popular and recently designed unisex fragrances.
Amber Wood Saffron
The opening notes of this oriental, woody-nuanced fragrance are formed by the redolent fusion of succulent orange, bittersweet, soft and nutty almond and sugary, spicy strawberry.
These aspects soon surrender to an intense heart note bouquet of intoxicating and exotic jasmine and earthy, intimate saffron. The scent completes with long-lasting and potent amber wood, clean, balsamic and somber cedar, passionate and sensual musk and dry, green, and bark-like oak moss.
Opening with an energetic citrus/ fruity top note bursting with sour-sweet lemon and fuzzy, soft dried apricot, this aromatic bouquet soon melds into a heart note of multi-layered, vanilla or banana-tinged cocoa blossom, powdery almond-like heliotrope, romantic, musky rose and warm, bright ginger.
A base note of honeyed amber, creamy sandalwood, herbaceous and slightly mossy tobacco leaf, elegant vanilla and earthy musk complete this potent fragrance.
Sea Salt Pomelo
Inspired by shimmering sands and the endless sea, this complex fragrance with its citrus, woody and fruity elements opens with a top note bursting with dry, acidic and aromatic citron, spicy, sweet and fresh bergamot, sharp, citrusy pomelo and savory, ozonic sea salt.
These elements soon surrender to a redolent floral heart note featuring dusty violet, intensely exotic jasmine and green, earthy and somewhat woody sea moss. The scent finishes with a potent base note characterized by sun-dried driftwood, sensual, passionate musk and sugary, earthy ambergris.
An unforgettable bouquet featuring a top note marked by pleasing, light and piquant bergamot, tart, tangy and uplifting grapefruit, lush orange and fresh, dewy melon.
A middle note soon follows suit streaming with elements of fresh, sugary and floral orange blossom, creamy gardenia and green, balsamic and slightly sharp vetiver. A base note of warm and woody-cedar wood, passionate musk, elegant and lush vanilla and dark, intoxicating patchouli complete this distinctive fragrance.
White Wood Musk
Sensual and seductive, this fruity/woody fragrance blend opens with a top note marked by elements of soft, nutty almond, spicy, complex and refreshing bergamot, and dense, slightly sweet pear.
These elements soon meld into an aromatic middle note comprised of soothing, fresh and floral lavender, powdery and violet-nuanced orris root and intense and intoxicating jasmine. A base note of rich vanilla, warm amber, calm, peaceful and peppery white woods, cinnamon and saffron-tinged tonka bean and sensual musk complete this memorable fragrance.
Unisex fragrances represents individualism and a freedom of choice without gender bias or judgment. A successful unisex perfume should always have universal appeal.
The future is destined to feature more unisex fragrances and alterations in manufacturing and production, which include the diversification of bottles, changing labels and complete transparency when formulating fragrances.
If you are a company seeking to develop a unisex scent for a particular product line or even a stand alone fragrance, contact our team today!
Final thought about societal change: In olden days, a glimpse of stocking was thought of as something shocking, but Heaven Knows. Anything Goes~ Cole Porter
Photo Credits: Pixabay, Jonas Neilson