I Fell for Le Labo's Santal 33 Just Like the Rest of the World and I Don't Care if That Makes Me a Sucker
I mean, even Justin frickin' BEIBER wears it.
You know how you hear about new direct-to-consumer brands being "The Everlane of" or "The Warby Parker of" such-and-such product category? Well, I'm pretty sure there are too many direct-to-consumer brands now for that to be a thing anymore. Also, the maybe three people I've ever said that reference to were like, "What's a Warby Parker?"
Anyway. Fragrance would probably be an unlikely candidate for DTC success but now with sampling kits it's a lot easier, albeit maybe more time consuming. I do think however that what with our technological advances in the world and such, something as personally experiential as fragrance has gotten the treatment, in terms of customization by way of finding what you like via other sensory means. To wit, there's no concrete way to know if you'll like a fragrance unless you smell it yourself. There is, however, a pretty good way to figure out from your personality and preferences what would translate well into a fragrance.
Enter Hawthorne For Men (or for people who like "mens" fragrances). I know, I know. I'm a bit irked myself at the whole "for men" thing because my natural instinct says "what about for me?"but in all honestly, I like wearing fragrances marketed for men anyway so nice try but no dice, guys — I'm comin' for you.
I actually got my dude into fragrance by way of shoving perfume nozzles under his nose and going, "HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS?" And sensitive boy that he is, he would tell me his true and honest feelings and usually remark upon what the scent reminds him of in his experiences.
He was super gung ho about Tom Ford Black Orchid, after he smelled it at a Sephora one time, hoarding samples forever, so I was all, Surprise, bitch! and got it for him for Xmas two years ago and it was ostensibly a gateway fragrance for him. To date he cycles between six different fragrances (not including these two that he also "borrowed" from me). Let me tell you, it is super fun fragrance shopping for a guy who previously was never into fragrance because I get to be all Come Into My World.
Which brings me back to Hawthorne and how it puts the fun but also maybe takes the fun —rather, it outsources the fun — out of giving the gift of fragrance for a dude (or, again, person who enjoys dude-marketed scents). Founded by Hood By Air designer Phil Wong and Brian Jeong, it's definitely made with a sartorial lifestyle in mind (so fashion!).
The idea of Hawthorne is that you do a survey on their site, which asks you very personal questions that seemingly have nothing to do with fragrance at all. Then that data is used to create two custom scents — one for work and one for play. The scents are concocted by three internationally renowned perfumers Quentin Bisch, Rodrigo Flores-Roux, and Olivier Gillotin, and generally broken down by a simple description sans marketing flourish and weird metaphors.
I like the simple breakdown of "This is a warm and aromatic scent" and "This is a smoky and woody scent." I feel like anyone's brain can wrap around that to understand that it's at least up your alley or it isn't.
Upon smelling the result of this online quiz, I was impressed at how sophisticated the Play and Work scents were — and yes, both smelling quite appropriate for their assigned contexts. Neither were overwhelmingly complex or loud (maybe because I chose introvert?) but my Play scent was a bit hard to figure out. It was woody with a nice sweet leathery roundness (can a smell be round? I'm getting a lotta round here) that settled down to a nice smoky finish, like damp firewood. My Work scent was sweetly crisp at the opening and clean but in a comforting musky way rather than a laundry detergent-scent kind of way. Professionally musky. I was very pleased.
Not to kill the mood of me vaguely describing how things smell, but you'll probably be pleased to know that you (or the dude-figure in your life) will receive these two scents at the impressively affordable-for-perfume price of $100, AND if it just so happens that you don't like one or both scents, Hawthorne will swap out a replacement until you do. You can fill out the biometrics survey for your giftee or just send a gift voucher so they can do it themselves (as fun as it is filling out surveys, I feel like you should let them do it this time— again, with the fun outsourcing).
Giving fragrance as a gift is usually a no-no unless you know exactly the fragrance that the person likes, but I don't know — I definitely think this could be a perfectly giftable fragrance. It's personalized and unique, so you know the man-figure in your life won't potentially smell like any other cologne-wearing dudes you may catch a whiff of (ie. the smell of Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gio reminds me of every fuckboy who went to my high school) and I'm sure the recipient will get a kick out of creating a fragrance based on personality traits. Ahh the smell of well-blended narcissism!