If I may, have you every thought of taking your truly excellent demystification skills, not to mention your wonderfully pellucid prose, and turning to the dark side by offering up such skills and prose for the purposes of obfuscation. I think there are a lot of niche companies out there who would reward you handsomely for such a turn. At least their copy would have the virtue of historical accuracy, grammatical probity, and some credibility. For one, I am glad you are on our side. We are lucky, indeed, to have such intelligent, informed fine writing on Basenotes to guide us in our choices.
I too am somewhat amazed, given the current swarm of niche companies that has descended on consumers, but I suspect there are a couple of reasons this is so: there are probably a lot of deep pockets behind such enterprises, one generation spending another's hard earned gains, you know, trust fund kids, etc.; at last count, the wealthy of this world generally spent $30,000.00 per annum per person just on shoes and handbags. One thing we tend to forget when the rest of us are left struggling with meager and shrinking wages and salaries, is that at the same time, all over the world, there are still a number of people who are making inordinately obscene amounts of money (for the American context of this phenomenon, I recommend Richard Frank's Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich.). The new rich have deep bountiful pockets, but I guess we need to wait and see just how far this recession will go and just how deeps those pockets are. It's hard to think of designer fragrances as aspirational anymore, expect maybe celebrity fragrances and I think that niche brands have now become mainstream and are the new aspirational brands of the fragrance industry. This at least begins to explain why a lot of designer fragrance companies are reinventing themselves part purveyors of niche fragrances. It's clear when a brand has achieved aspirational status, people will spend money they can't really afford to buy it. Just how much more money they can't afford to spend on niche remains to be seen.
Finally, to quote the title of one my favorite books, there's always the "glamour of backwardness." Niche as escape into the past? Sure, why not? What you've shown is that these niche companies really expect ill-informed nouveau riche/nouveau niche tourist types to take the ride backwards into a purer past and to pay handsomely for doing so. Like you, I prefer to take it easy, to foot it, to look straight ahead instead of backwards and to stop, every now and then, to smell the roses on the way.
Again, thank you for being our steady guide.