The Rise of Gender-Neutral Fragrances

The topic of gender neutrality has become more and more popular across a number of industries, in particular within fashion and beauty. Seeing a much more fluid approach to men and women’s fashion styles and beauty regimes have sparked a rise in gender-neutral, or unisex, fragrances. 

Brands such as Jo Malone, Tom Ford, Penhaligon’s and even Acqua di Parma aftershave can all be construed as gender-neutral, ideal for wearing no matter your gender.

In modern style history, it’s mostly been accepted that fragrances were separated based on gender; floral fragrances for women, and woody or spicy scents for men. Today, more people are simply looking for fragrances that they like the smell of, regardless of who they are marketed at.

The history of unisex fragrances

If we take you back to medieval times, fragrance was completely genderless and worn by all. This soon changed to a much clearer male-female divide. Fast forward to 1994 and this trend was turned on its head by none other than Calvin Klein.

The release of CK One was revolutionary, with a clean, refreshing scent that instantly appealed to both men and women. This quickly threw the gender divide into jeopardy, but upon closer look, it seems as though male vs female fragrances might not be so clear cut after all.

There are often many ‘feminine’ notes that are included in the making of men’s aftershaves, like orange blossom and lily of the valley. Seemingly feminine ingredients like these are often left out of descriptions for fear of putting off male buyers. Similarly, there are many men’s aftershaves that still appeal to women, like the previously mentioned Acqua di Parma aftershaves. Zesty colognes like these can easily cross gender lines and nod to the idea that female fashion has always been more adventurous and androgynous than the men’s market.

Expressing yourself through fragrance

This has led to the idea that choosing a fragrance is more about expressing who you are, regardless of what gender the perfume or aftershave is targeted towards. The concept of perfume is seemingly much more emotional than biological.

This is proven by Mintel’s Global New Products Database. Between 2014 and 2018, unisex fragrance launches in Europe increased from 15% to 18% of the overall market. Globally, between the same period, unisex fragrance launches increased from 12% to 14%.

So next time you’re shopping for a new fragrance, don’t head straight for the perfumes if you’re a woman or aftershaves if you’re a man. Shop on smell and you might be surprised at what you come away with!

What’s your scent of choice?

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