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  1. #1

    Default Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    What store scents are worth seeking out? I'm talking about scents where you have to go to the actual brand's store to smell it. Stuff like Abercrombie's Fierce, Banana Republic's Black Walnut, Michael Kors 'Michael', Scotch & Soda's Barfly, and the Coach trio of Leatherwear scents. I'm not talking about designers or niche that are also found at Macy's/Nordstrom/Etc.

    The thought behind the thread: When a Michael Kors store opened where I live, I dropped by to test Michael. I was surprised and impressed. I think Michael is as good if not better than most of the designer scents at Macy's and Sephora. On the other hand, Scotch & Soda's Barfly is trash. It smells like a design-by-comittee scent.

    ...any Black Walnut fans out there?

    ...Coach Leatherwear 1, 2 or 3?

    ...something else?
    Last edited by L'Homme Blanc Individuel; 15th April 2014 at 09:17 PM. Reason: I tried to explain it better.
    I have a 100ml Gucci Pour Homme 2003 that I'll swap for Reflection Man or De Bachmakov. PM me if interested.

  2. #2
    Dependent bigbz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    Heard great things about a couple of Marks and Spencer scents, but since they are only in the UK there is no hope for us. Also a few Zara's scents are supposed to be pretty good. Never tried Black Walnut, but wasn't impressed with Classic from BR. I will say I was very pleasantly surprised by Hollister SoCal, very good and unique frag IMO.(even if it is a bit pricey)


    I will add...a couple of the Rue21 cheapies aren't bad at all for less than a Hamilton
    Last edited by bigbz; 15th April 2014 at 08:55 PM.

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    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    Oh yeah, I did try the Coach line of scents also....really liked one, but wasn't sure which one it was as the bottles all look so similiar.

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    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    IMO L'Occitane store offerings are worth seeking out. Many of the ones mentioned above, for me - not.
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    You First by David Mayer Norman.

    Oh well, I wouldn't exactly describe it as an hidden gem but it's pretty decent if one is fine with synth stuff. A post-Terre spicy leathery woody vetiver with incredibly sharp edges. Penetrating and quite strong…a bit too much for my nose but still somewhat decent when compared to other Store Brands fragrances.



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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    Quote Originally Posted by hednic View Post
    IMO L'Occitane store offerings are worth seeking out. Many of the ones mentioned above, for me - not.
    I love that store, and they have an outlet store version close to me that usually has a few of their fragrances for 50% off -- making a $75 EdC $35 -- well worth it, even if used for room fragrance!
    improving olfactory environments one molecule at a time....

  7. #7

    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    I would think of Michael Kors as a designer label, not a store brand really. That would make Ralph Lauren a store brand too, since they have stores as well, but in essence, they are all designer.

    I would consider places like Bath/Body Works, L'Occitane, etc as "store brands".
    My Ultimate Top 5:

    Fahrenheit (1988)
    Paul Smith Man (2009)
    Burberry London (2006)
    Prada Amber pour Homme (2006)
    Arpege pour Homme (2005)

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    I think that Brooks Brothers has done a great job of producing great scents in line with their brand promise and at a great price!
    Currently wearing: JF by Floris

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    +1 L'Occitane
    +1 Banana Republic

    As far as designer fragrances, I'm a fan of the Kenneth Cole fragrances (Black, Signature, and Reaction). I think they are nice, affordable, and have good performance for the price. I'm also a big fan of good old Cool Water and Joop! flankers.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    That brings to my memory this Zara scent that for some odd reasons I quite liked - some 14 years ago:



    I remember it was a bit cloying but really dense, musky, green & woody.
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  11. #11

    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    In addition to the great suggestions above, most fragrances by L'Erbolario and Yardley, indeed also some of the fragrances by Zara. Furthermore: Pierre Cardin Cedre Ambre and Iris Sauvage, some of the fragrances by Antonio Puig, as well as the wonderful 80s powerhouse fougere Caractere by Daniel Hechter- the latter smelling much costlier, more elegant and distinguished than the actual price, surprisingly long lasting and with a smooth interpretation of leathery notes, while Preferred Stock also resembles the has similar performances at comparable prices.

    Pretty much all of these are in plain sight, since they are reasonably affordable, quite abundantly and readily available.
    Last edited by Ken_Russell; 15th April 2014 at 08:58 PM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    Quote Originally Posted by The_Cologneist View Post
    I would think of Michael Kors as a designer label, not a store brand really. That would make Ralph Lauren a store brand too, since they have stores as well, but in essence, they are all designer.
    Totally agreed. Ralph Lauren is at Macy's as well as Ralph Lauren stores, but Michael Kors Michael seems to only be at Michael Kors stores (excluding online discounters, of course). That's more of what I'm asking here. Kenneth Cole is another that's easily found at places outside of Kenneth Cole stores. Banana Republic scents are only at Banana Republic (excluding online discounters, I mean).

    I'm asking about the stuff you have to go to their own store to smell.

    You're right about terminology though. Is there a term for stuff like Banana Republic Black Walnut? Is it just designer? ...something else?
    I have a 100ml Gucci Pour Homme 2003 that I'll swap for Reflection Man or De Bachmakov. PM me if interested.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    Body Shop Activist. A very nice fragrance indeed.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    Quote Originally Posted by L'Homme Blanc Individuel View Post
    Totally agreed. Ralph Lauren is at Macy's as well as Ralph Lauren stores, but Michael Kors Michael seems to only be at Michael Kors stores (excluding online discounters, of course). That's more of what I'm asking here. Kenneth Cole is another that's easily found at places outside of Kenneth Cole stores. Banana Republic scents are only at Banana Republic (excluding online discounters, I mean).

    I'm asking about the stuff you have to go to their own store to smell.

    You're right about terminology though. Is there a term for stuff like Banana Republic Black Walnut? Is it just designer? ...something else?
    Ah, I see what you're saying! I have seen Michael Kors though being sold at Kohl's which is a department store.

    I dunno what to call fragrances from Banana Republic, A&F, Gap, Hollister, Aeropostale, etc.. I'm sure there's a precise term.
    My Ultimate Top 5:

    Fahrenheit (1988)
    Paul Smith Man (2009)
    Burberry London (2006)
    Prada Amber pour Homme (2006)
    Arpege pour Homme (2005)

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    Barney's "Route du The" is an interesting and affordable fragrance to me...
    improving olfactory environments one molecule at a time....

  16. #16

    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    Since Coach was mentioned in this thread, and since I never hear it talked about, does anyone else own Coach for Men? Any thoughts on it? Not sure if it's still produced, as it didn't seem to sell that well in my area.

    Current Top 10:
    Creed Green Irish Tweed
    Creed Silver Mountain Water
    Creed Royal Oud
    Amouage Jubilation XXV
    Tom Ford Tuscan Leather
    Tom Ford Amber Absolute
    Tom Ford Italian Cypress
    Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan
    Bleu de Chanel
    YSL Rive Gauche Pour Homme

  17. #17

    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    So many, for instance Romeo Gigli by Romeo Gigli.
    Currently wearing: Eight & Bob by Eight & Bob

  18. #18

    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    Tiffany has some very respectable offerings.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    Quote Originally Posted by Darvant View Post
    So many, for instance Romeo Gigli by Romeo Gigli.
    Is Romeo Gigli a store in Italy? I bet you folks have all sorts of neat stuff over there.
    I have a 100ml Gucci Pour Homme 2003 that I'll swap for Reflection Man or De Bachmakov. PM me if interested.

  20. #20
    Dependent caferacer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    I sampled Greg Lauren for Barney's a couple of weeks ago. It needs a couple more wearings before I can develop a solid opinion on it, but my first impressions were positive.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    The term you're looking for, which I picked up from Mike Perez, is mall frags!

    And YES - Black Walnut was one of my faves. I wore it for quite a while as my go-to office scent.

    BR has some feminines that are comtemporary with Black Walnut, that are pretty nice. Malachite and Cordovan are OK, too, but Black Walnut was the best of the bunch, IMO. Their new Wildblue is pretty nice, but I'm not a fan of the new "Noir" flanker of it.

    Eddie Bauer had a fragrance that I almost bought, that was pretty decent. Ruehl no. 925 fragrance (Abercrombie spin-off) was supposed to be pretty good - I sniffed it, and it was OK, but I didn't jump for the buy.

    Some of the women's stores have decent store frags. I sniff them while my wife is shopping. Ann Taylor and one of the others has decent stuff.

    I thought that the Coach trio were interesting, but they just didn't ring my bell. However, I have a bottle of the earlier Coach Leatherware (or For Men, depending upon who you ask), which CT3 mentions upthread. That one was considered a disappointment around here when it was released - in part because it was not very leathery. Well - very cool to report - my bottle just gets better and better with age, and the leather is much more apparent. Now it comes off as a leathery version of something like Pour Monsieur. Still slightly flawed, but much better than when I first bought it. Glad I own it.

    Tiffany has a bunch of great scents, but I almost consider those to be exclusive designer, or maybe "jeweler frags" as a subdivision of designer (like Mauboussin, Cartier, and JAR).

    I smelled some stuff in GAP that seemed almost like Zara's scents, which are "disposable good scents", so to speak. They're clearly quality, slightly memorable but not too much, and priced to sell. I do have Zara's 9.58 Sprint or whatever it's called - the scent that's 30% of Aventus. I personally like Zara's clothing and accessories, and their frags are similar in quality - surprisingly good for the price. As Zara's stores are in the same shopping neighborhoods as the high-end designers in major cities, they are really at the border between mall and designer, perhaps just a bit more designer than BR.
    * * * *

  22. #22

    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    Now that Darvant mentioned Romeo Gigli that made me remember an obscure, stunning powerhouse by RoccoBarocco (I still remember it had the smell of my grandmother's flat - a small, dusty and a bit dirty flat in the suburbs). I bought it at a local open air market for pennies in the '90s, it had that powdery, almost chypre decadent feel of many old fougères. I'll look for it as I have a good "souvenir" about it. This:

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  23. #23

    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    Any comments from UK Basenoters? Only reasonable ones I can think of are clones of better known fragrances.

    For example Next do a Spicebomb clone, Noir, which is very very close to the original to my nose, but for around £12 for 100ml. Marks and Spencer sell a range by Montheme and their leather fragrance is a very good clone of Tuscan Leather.

    Anything else worth trying?

  24. #24

    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    Quote Originally Posted by hednic View Post
    IMO L'Occitane store offerings are worth seeking out. Many of the ones mentioned above, for me - not.
    why spend 20 $ when you can splurge 500 $ ????
    sailing the Oceans of Boredom...
    Currently wearing: Hamptons by Bond No. 9

  25. #25

    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    Quote Originally Posted by tefg View Post
    Any comments from UK Basenoters? Only reasonable ones I can think of are clones of better known fragrances.

    For example Next do a Spicebomb clone, Noir, which is very very close to the original to my nose, but for around £12 for 100ml. Marks and Spencer sell a range by Montheme and their leather fragrance is a very good clone of Tuscan Leather.

    Anything else worth trying?
    Check out 'Le Sauvage' by Lynn Harris for M&S, which I think is the best of their range (Le Noir isn't bad either). Both currently £12.50 for 50ml.

    Also, Yardley Citrus and Wood is a decent knock-off of Terre d'Hermes, for between £9 and £12 a bottle.
    He boiled for our sins.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    Quote Originally Posted by tefg View Post
    Any comments from UK Basenoters? Only reasonable ones I can think of are clones of better known fragrances.

    For example Next do a Spicebomb clone, Noir, which is very very close to the original to my nose, but for around £12 for 100ml. Marks and Spencer sell a range by Montheme and their leather fragrance is a very good clone of Tuscan Leather.

    Anything else worth trying?
    Woods of Windsor, if you like that sort of thing.

    Does M&S have testers for these frags?

  27. #27

    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    Quote Originally Posted by Rüssel View Post
    Woods of Windsor, if you like that sort of thing.

    Does M&S have testers for these frags?

    Larger stores do. I tried the leather one on my skin, whilst carrying a card with Tuscan Leather on, and the difference was very small, though I had tried a few others that day and one of the other monotheme ones (a dark rose) was overpoweringly strong.

    My comments form previously are below.

    http://www.basenotes.net/threads/372...-Oud-Black-Oud

  28. #28

    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    Check out some Zara scents

  29. #29

    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    You mentioned in your review of Le Noir that you think it is going to be the most popular of the three Lyn Harris frags marketed at men. But I tried them all out at the enormous M&S on the outskirts of Camberley, and they told me Le Sauvage outsold the other 2 combined.

    That branch of M&S doesn't just have a few bottles on a shelf, they have a whole perfume and cosmetics department. They have a lot of the Comptoir Sud Pacifique range there too.

  30. #30

    Default Re: Hidden Gems in plain sight? Store brands worth seeking out

    Quote Originally Posted by andym72 View Post
    You mentioned in your review of Le Noir that you think it is going to be the most popular of the three Lyn Harris frags marketed at men. But I tried them all out at the enormous M&S on the outskirts of Camberley, and they told me Le Sauvage outsold the other 2 combined.
    Le Noir has the popular amber and vanilla notes and more immediate 'showroom' appeal so I'm a little surprised (but pleased) that Le Sauvage may be outselling it. Le Noir could have easily been marketed as a feminine, nothing particularly masculine about it IMO.
    He boiled for our sins.

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