L’Artisan Parfumeur has sold out. As of last week, the formerly niche perfume brand can now be found at (relatively) mainstream retailer Sephora. L’Artisan has since been dropped by several niche retailers, including MiN New York, which declared over Twitter:
L’Artisan Parfumeur has sold out, and I could not care less.
I mean, am I really supposed to care? Am I really supposed to be upset that my favorite perfume brand has just become more accessible? L’Artisan makes some of the strangest and most beautiful perfumes on the market, from the circus-inspired Dzing! to the heartbreakingly gorgeous Safran Troublant. Frankly, I’m goddamn thrilled that Sephora shoppers might trade in their Pink Sugar for some Timbuktu.
I guess I can sort of understand why someone might take issue with L’Artisan’s new distribution strategy, if I squint hard enough. The concern is that L’Artisan might start dumbing down their fragrances now that they’re targeting a more mainstream audience, right? This seems unlikely for a few reasons. Only seven of the 33 L’Artisan fragrances are currently available on the Sephora website. Those seven fragrances are only available online, and cannot be sampled or purchased in Sephora stores. As it currently stands, this arrangement does not sound as profitable to L’Artisan as some of its other business relationships (for example, Barney’s New York carries the entire L’Artisan line in several of its stores). Sephora customers are unlikely to be L’Artisan’s primary target.
Niche perfumes are supposed to be better than mainstream perfumes. That’s why we’re supposed to be willing to pay more for them. But let’s face it, y’all: it’s been a long time since the word “niche” has guaranteed a high-quality perfume. I think that some retailers are vastly overestimating how much consumers care about whether their perfumes are niche or mainstream. I know that I’ll keep buying L’Artisan perfumes no matter where they’re sold.
How much does the distinction between niche and mainstream perfumes matter to you? Are you more likely to buy niche perfumes than mainstream?