Niche perfume

It’s a term that can sound a bit intimidating, like it’ll be expensive or weird. And sometimes it is.

Niche perfume is a term often used to describe fragrances that are produced by smaller, independent brands that focus on quality, creativity, and individuality. Mainstream fragrances are designed to appeal to the masses, whereas niche fragrances are crafted for those who want something more than just a scent – they want an experience, a story, to say something about themselves or to show an appreciation for perfumery as an artform. For these people, perfume needs to be more than just a nice smell.

It’s in niche fragrance that you can find the most interesting notes, such as burnt rubber, mushroom, jet fuel or candlewax. Or, in our case, cake!

So is perfumery an artform?

At Thursday we would say yes – but maybe we would. Perfumery is a creative expression using scent rather than paint, clay, movement, or instruments, for example. We believe it’s an artform just as those things are. For some people the lines may seem blurred because there’s chemistry involved, but there’s maths involved in music and physics involved in sculpture. It’s just those things will often be a bit more intuitive.

Perhaps it’s because the sense of smell is considered a more functional sense. We’re acutely aware of the things that bring us joy via our eyes or ears, but we don’t often think the nose in the same way. In fact, we often talk about the nose in quite a derogatory way – calling it a hooter, a snout, a conk etc. Despite studies showing how important our sense of smell is and just what an emotional impact it can have on us, it’s still an underrated sense. Smell is the sense that most people would lose if they had to lose one.

What can you expect from niche fragrance?

While you may find some very odd, or even difficult, fragrances in the niche sector, you’re also very likely to find something that speaks to you personally. It might be the materials within the composition you like, or it might be the story or inspiration behind it that attracts you. There’s a lot to explore but if you don’t want to smell the same as thousands of other people and you want to really appreciate your sense of smell, it’s worth diving into.

Some recommendations from us are:  

4160 Tuesdays –  There are so many beautiful and interesting perfumes from this brand but What I Did On My Holidays tells a layered story of a British seaside holiday. It’s genius perfume making, taking you from the sea to a fairground, to a rock shop and then on to a 99 ice cream.

Contradictions in Ilk – This brand uses some interesting notes, like mushroom, cellophane and matcha. Human is such an unusual fragrance but it’s addictive!

Bloom Perfumery London – This store is home to loads of great niche brands. One of the best things about Bloom is they do sample packs that allow you to explore different themes, or notes, across multiple brands.

Shy Mimosa – A shop that specialises in niche, artisan perfumery. They’ll help you to find your perfect fragrance, whether that’s a signature scent or something for a special occasion.

Some niche perfumes can be very expensive, but there is a good reason for that. Niche perfumers aren’t often looking for a huge commercial success, they are looking at their work as an artform. Without budgetary constraints they’re more likely to use unusual or very high-quality ingredients, which pushes the price up. It’s also worth considering that a ‘nose’ has often trained for years, and individual fragrances can take a very long time to compose, years even. There is a lot of work that goes into making a scent.

If you’d like to dip your toe into the niche, fragranced, waters of Thursday, give our discovery set a go.