But what is mainstream?

I read dee’s second post on mainstream perfumes and, while watching the cat wash herself, I got to wondering what defines mainstream in perfumery. If there was a continuum, would it go:

Celebrity ( eg Deseo) – mainstream (Estee Lauder) – high end mainstream (Chanel No 5) – boutique mainstream (Chanels and Hermes etc only available in their boutiques and online) – low end niche (Goutal) – high end niche (Lutens) – high high end niche (Amouage) – indie (Tauer).

Price crosses some of those boundaries. And now I think of it, I guess my continuum is not about price, but creativity and independence. Nor does my continuum take into account high end classics, like Joy, that have slipped considerably over the years in price.

None of this matters in the sense that, as always, you like what you like. Still, in is interesting to observe how these categories evolve and change, and how they map across to our own spending decisions.

The cat has finished washing herself, so I’ll stop too.


15 thoughts on “But what is mainstream?

  1. Really enjoyed your continum annemaire! You’re right it’s not just about price. Boutique mainstream (glad you’ve given a name to one of my faves!) is more expensive than your low end niche and can be more creative sometimes. I guess I’d just add drugstore perfumes like Exclamation and Charlie, right at the bottom probably. Plus super niche (Xerjoff) afer high high niche. This game is fun!

          1. And then there are the ‘In Your Dreams’ prices for vintage perfume on eBay.

    1. Oh, yes, I forgot about those Charlies and things. And then there are the knock-offs. Looks like my continuum is stretching.

      I was in Target (low end department store) yesterday and while my daughter was in the toy section browsed the perfumes. Red Door, I think, some Charlies, a Kylie Minogue, and a whole bunch o’ knock-offs. The version of YSL’s Paris I sniffed was so thin, so bad, it made Kylie’s offering seemed really very good by comparison.

  2. There are so many ways to organize and categorize perfumes; I think that you’ve done a superb job distinguishing, and I tend to agree with the examples suggested here.

    As far as the term “mainstream” goes, for me, it references availability.
    If I can find it in the tiny town I live in, it is as mainstream as they come! That basically covers the celeb stuff, but it also includes Shalimar (or Angel, or Dune), which you can purchase at the drugstore a few blocks from my house. This will probably vary somewhat, depending on where you live, but the easier to get (for the largest number of people), the more mainstream. The harder to get ahold of, the more niche! Indie seems to fall under my categorization of niche, simply because few indie perfumers have good distribution.

    That’s my two-pence! 😉

    1. Ah yes, great point – availability.

      I live in a small city, so as soon as Annick Goutal became available at one of my department stores, it slipped in my mind from high end niche (ie hard to get) to low end niche – simply because of availability. But that is probably not a fair comment on AG quality and creativity.

      1. I can’t put a hand on a Goutal unless I a) drive four hours or b) buy it via the internet. This is probably more a comment on how small a place I live in than anything else. But I do notice that the Goutal prices are still reasonable compared to a lot of the niche stuff I see popping up.

        1. Yes indeed, although I heard a rumour that AG is getting rid of its 50 ml bottles and only selling in 100 mls? I’m pretending I haven’t heard that.

    1. Hmmm … I knew this would happen!

      I’m not sure that I put them anywhere. I do wear C&E but the others are not available here. L’Occitaine is another, and so is Body Shop. (That may not be doing justice to YR and Pacifica, because as I say, I only know them by reputation. So please do argue back! I’m also unfamiliar with Victoria’s Secret.) C&E, Body Shop and L’O perfumes seem to me to be mainly off-shoots from their bath and body products. If I had to attach them to my continuum, they certainly belong to the mainstream.

      I recall that Angela on NST once did a whole series of posts on ‘mall scents’, so perhaps I’d add ‘mall scents’ to my continuum in between Celebrity and Mainstream. Or something!

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