Why is basic logic lost on some people ?


I use the phrase “basic logic” because I’m not sure what to call the latest claim by Mr. Ross over at the FromPyrgos blog (the title of the post is “Writing About Vintage Fragrances: Where Is The Nexus Of Legitimate Research?).” I really don’t know what he thinks he can accomplish, and I actually hope he can lower prices for vintage on ebay (since it’s getting more difficult to find good deals these days) with his posts, but I don’t know why he can’t understand that some of us prefer vintage. We’ve stocked up and unless the bottles get stolen, broken, etc. we are “set for life.” And we can talk about our experiences with those bottles for many years to come, which may be driving him mad, though I certainly hope not. Even if his friend and “industry insider,” Jeffrey Dame, thinks that after about a decade these scents will turn to dreck, we prefer them head and shoulders above the new releases, even niche !

However, I can’t read his mind and I have found some of his recent statements to be absurd, so here I will restrict my arguments to items that I feel can be sorted out by logic, for those who care about it. The last thing I found clearly illogical (not long ago), just to recap, is his claim that scents without coumarin can be classified as fougeres. If it’s got a clear lavender note, apparently, that’s good enough for him! Doesn’t logic “dictate” that there would have been no original fougere if any scent with strong lavender were to be called a fougere? People enjoyed strong lavender scents before the fougere was invented, after all. Did they call them rose scents? Jasmine scents? Let’s get serious here !

The latest bit of illogical thinking can be found in this passage from his latest post:

Last year I published a link to a study that showed differences between vintage Old Spice by Shulton, current Old Spice by Shulton (a version only sold in India), and current Old Spice by Proctor & Gamble for the North American market. Here is a summary of the results:

“What small differences exist between [vintage Shulton and current Shulton] may possibly be attributed to the age of the sample or point to a natural variation in components in some essential oil. It is the author’s opinion that Shulton is using the same recipe in India that was used to manufacture the vintage sample. The P&G Old Spice appears to be significantly different from the other two Old Spice samples. I believe that there may be some evidence here for a change in recipe sometime between when the vintage Old Spice was produced and the current recipe. Whether that supposed change occurred before or after P&G obtained the product line is impossible to say.”

This conclusion tears a hole in the vintage enthusiasts’ argument that vintage is “better” than “current,” simply by showing that even when using gas chromatography, it’s impossible to pin any deleterious formula change to the current fragrance licensee of something as cheap and easily-changeable as Old Spice. If a drugstore scent like Old Spice barely registers any scientifically-proven formula change while under Proctor & Gamble’s thumb, why am I to believe that more expensive fragrances are being cheapened and degraded by reformulations under new commercial ownership? The people who claim that reformulations are inferior to vintage never bother to seek any CG results, so I can not take their opinions seriously.

First, I’ll point out that these were aftershave formulations, and aftershaves usually don’t have the base notes that the kind of EdT formulations (or stronger) vintage aficionados seem to prefer do (or the base notes are quite weak and not relevant). Moreover, I’ve pointed out many times that the top notes are of little importance to me (if they last a long time, as is sometimes the case, then I would be concerned about them), and from what I’ve read over the years, at least some vintage aficionados feel the same way. Second, Mr. Ross omitted the first sentence in this paragraph, which is: “The current Shulton and vintage Shulton products, overall, are very similar.” The point here is that “very similar” may be good enough for him but not for everyone; why does he feel that he should make such decisions for other people? Third, he himself claimed that the the Old Spice formula was/is cheap, so there may not have been much of a point to cheapening it further! Fourth, the researcher did find that there was a significant difference with certain Old Spice formulations, so why would Mr. Ross think that this can’t possibly occur with another scent, made by an entirely different company? Does he really not understand this?

Thus, this study possibly could “tear a hole” in a claim that vintage Shulton Old Spice is much better than (or significantly different from) newer versions in some contexts. I say possibly because someone might appreciate vintage Shulton Old Spice for a note that was enhanced or diminished in the new version tested. The overall “feel” might be the same to most people, but for that one person the absence of that note (or perhaps a change in the molecule used to represent that note) is what matters. For example, it’s known that for some scents a modern musk has been substituted for an older one, and a particular person may be especially sensitive to the new molecule, disliking it intensely (or vice versa). This is certainly true for any “nitro musks” scent, as Luca Turin and others have pointed out quite a while ago, but some people don’t perceive the musks at all! Nitro musks were removed from scent formulations long before IFRA became an issue for many people, it seems. In any case, it’s certainly true that many if not most people won’t detect a change (in some reformulations) while a small number of people will, so Mr. Ross is telling everyone that they should smell what he does, or else he thinks this study covers all reformulations made by all companies, either of which would of course be ludicrous.

In a recent Basenotes.net thread, in fact, someone made a claim about IFRA, thinking that he was “scoring a point” against me, yet I just asked who is stocking up on vintage and to what degree, not that IFRA was to blame (I just mentioned IFRA because it seemed that there was a kind of IFRA-panic, but I made it clear that I was just prompted to write up the post in light of those apparent concerns). In fact, one could argue the “major players” are using IFRA (if they don’t control it “behind the scenes”) because it allows them to create inexpensive scents “to comply with IFRA.” And I’m not arguing that “new must be bad,” but rather that differences are detected and are not wanted by some people. You can tell people that they aren’t smelling what they think they are smelling, of course, but if that person has studied a huge number of all kinds of scents over a period of several years, I think you should be prepared for that person to get a good laugh at your expense !

What I find most egregious in this passage from his new post, however, is that Mr. Ross thinks that all scents have changed (or not) in the same way that Old Spice has. He must be aware of my writings (and that of may others), and I’ve often pointed out specific differences in formulations. Moreover, in the case of Boss Cologne/Boss Number One, I haven’t found any differences I’d consider major, and I pointed that out long ago. Where logic is really lost, so to speak, is with the notion that the “vintage” Old Spice tested had not already been reformulated into what I consider “drug store dreck.” How could he not consider this possibility? For example, I found an old bottle of Royal Copenhagen (Swank formulation) that was in the back of a drawer in a relative’s house. This person has lived in the same house (with central air conditioning) since he acquired the bottle new, and the bottle had never been taken out of the box, until I tried it.

He said he hand no use for it and told me to take it because he’d just throw it in the garbage. As I wrote long ago on this blog, I found this “vintage” formulation to be awful, and happily swapped it off. If Mr. Ross wants to find a person who can perform GC tests on scents that I think were reformulated poorly, then let’s do it! The problem here is that if there is any difference in the resulting graphs, it’s possible that this represents why a person likes or dislikes a specific formulation. The study in question suggests that Shulton may have been more consistent in their formulations (over the course of quite a few years) than some other companies, though that formulation may be viewed as “drug store dreck” by most vintage aficionados, for all we know (I haven’t tried either formulation so I can’t speak this point). I’d like to see a lot more research on these kinds of subjects, but that wouldn’t change my appreciation of these concoctions, so this seems to be yet another example of Mr. Ross seeking to get into a “right fight,” as CBS TV’s Dr. Phil might say. What he has accomplished, IMO, is a demonstration of how “twisted” one’s thoughts can become when one can’t tolerate the thought of being wrong !

NOTE: You can find the study in question, along with graphs at:

http://badgerandblade.com/vb/showthread.php/279212-Will-the-real-quot-Old-Spice-quot-please-stand-up

NOTE #2: It’s well-known that the “good quality” sandalwood used in many old scents is not available and hasn’t been for some time. There may be a few people who have obtained it and created their own scents with it, but it’s certainly not something you can find in any scent that has been released recently (other than perhaps very expensive niche), to my knowledge. Thus, Mr. Ross is either ignorant of something that vintage aficionados (and many others) find very important in this context (that is, the loss of that sandalwood note in some reformulations) or he has decided to ignore evidence that would “tear a hole” in his argument.

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20 Comments

Filed under Criticizing the critics.

20 responses to “Why is basic logic lost on some people ?

  1. willread

    Bryan Ross aka ‘Abi’ comments on this on his own blog. Again he just can’t stay away 😉
    In the same vein as his accusations about cultishness, he seems unable to be rational on this issue. It is a know fact among many perfume lovers that many, many, many vintages are not only ok, but great. And not only a few years but decades later. Even the blogger he refers to with such jubilation (Elena) is a vintage lover herself. The fact that he feels the need to dismiss Luca Turin in such a childish manner is almost comical, given his standing in the perfume (including professional) community. Now if only Turin had worked in the perfume warehouse packaging department…

    • Yes, it’s comical on some level, but I’m not even sure what his argument is at this point. I guess he’s trying to tell us that we are delusional, but I was a major skeptic about vintage claims and it took quite a bit of time/experience before I came to conclude that vintage was generally more complex, richer, deeper, etc. than reformulations or today’s scents. People are clearly “voting with their wallets” on ebay, and it seems to make him really upset. Why? Is it that he cannot detect what others do? Is it that he feels we should “leave the past in the past?” Why can’t he just enjoy the scents he does and write about them? Why does he feel the need to criticize those who appreciate scents in a different way, implying that we are delusional? I wonder if he is like this about everything in his life! LOL.

  2. small problem with your “Note #2” old boy – only 30% of masculines pre-dating 1997 incorporated natural sandalwood oil as a principal fixative, as per Nigel Groom’s “New Perfume Handbook.” Like the 50% of feminines that incorporated that material, the material was reserved for the very expensive stuff, not likely to be found in any of the designer fragrances you and I regularly talk about. Samsara, for example, used Sandalore, not natural sandalwood. If you’re going to talk about using “naturals” and make it sound like they’re “better than synthetics,” it pays to actually look into whether or not the real stuff was ever used at all. In regards to sandalwood, 70% of masculines never even touched the real stuff in the first place. The JSDACD was testing cosmetic isobornyl cyclohexanol as far back as 1980 – simply look on their website. furthermore, I’ll give you this freebie instead of publishing it on my (I’ll publish it there if you don’t publish this) – Cotton Club by Jeanne Arthes is basically the “natural” sandalwood base smelled in virtually all the designer vintages that feature that note prominently. Sadly, Jeanne Arthes doesn’t have the budget for real sandalwood oil, Indian or Australian.

    • How nice of you to only comment on something you feel someone got “wrong,” while ignoring the other points. I’ve said long ago that when I say “natural smelling” it’s just my perception. I’ve also pointed out that the sandalwood note is often important because it “cuts” other elements (such as sweet ones) that can become cloying rather quickly. I would have guessed that in many of these scents, for example vintage Zino, a small amount of natural sandalwood (“the good stuff”) was used in conjunction with a larger amount of synthetics. In the newer Zino, I don’t remember detecting anything worth calling a sandalwood note. So, if the question should be, why did they remove anything worth calling a sandalwood note (instead of why they removed a “better quality” sandalwood note), then so be it. I’ve never claimed to be an expert on aroma chemicals, and I’ve said more than once that my opinions are derived from my studies, which are almost entirely based upon what I’m smelling. If it smells natural to me, I have no problem with a scent that is actually 100% synthetic (and again, I’ve said this sort of thing in the past). Your claim also doesn’t make a lot of common sense, because IIRC you’ve said before that there weren’t many scents (going back X number of years) that were particularly expensive (certainly nothing like niche today), so which ones could these 30% pre-1997 “masculines” be? Not providing one example doesn’t do much for your argument.

      • well in the interest of common sense, given that only 30% of European and American masculines predating 1997 contained actual sandalwood oil, and only the expensive segment of the market could afford to use actual sandalwood oil in anything more than a micro-milliliter, that would narrow it down to, well, the expensive stuff. Creed’s Bois du Portugal. di Nicolai’s New York. Guerlain’s Derby. You figure it out, Bigsly. The prohibitive aspect, again according to the Handbook, is cost. Given that is the issue, and feminines typically have a bigger budget, it’s no surprise that the number of sandalwood-laden feminines predating ’97 eclipse masculines by 20%. And even then, only half the feminines in the total market used sandalwood.

        The Lancaster group’s use of sandalwood synthetics, particularly in Zino, would seem fitting given that Zino was never an expensive fragrance. There’s no way to know for certain, but I doubt Zino ever contained Mysore sandalwood, and why bother using Australian at that pricepoint? Especially when you can use the cheaper synthetics to equal effect? Also, why are you acting like I’ve changed the subject here? I’m directly addressing your claim in Note #2 that “good quality sandalwood” was “used in many old scents.” As it turns out a quick look at the statistics show otherwise. Therefore “good quality sandalwood” was not used in many old scents – it was used in 30% of the masculines in the Western market, which may be a higher percentage than is used today, but is hardly enough to qualify as “many.”

        If you want your readers to believe that vintage lovers covet vintage fragrances because they contain sandalwood oils that are no longer used in current fragrances, I must ask you, which vintage fragrances are you referring to?

      • My notion about sandalwood is based, at least to some degree, upon what Luca Turin has said on this subject, but I had to smell it for myself. I assumed that what smelled “natural” was at least partly natural. Moreover, I’ve never read anyone make a claim against these statements by Turin (or Sanchez, in “The Guide”), though to be fair he wasn’t as specific as I’d like on the subject. Surely, you know that the fragrance industry isn’t exactly “transparent” on this and other issues. The best I can do is to try and “put the pieces together.” If the scents that I prize for “good” sandalwood notes do not contain natural sandalwood, that’s fine, and when it is known for sure (which old scents contain it), I can write up a blog post about it, but until then I think it’s appropriate to let readers decide for themselves. In the case of the vintage versions of Zino or Lapidus Pour Homme, which are the kinds of scents I wear most often, there is so much complexity that the sandalwood note is not as obvious as it is in something like Vintage Tabarome, and therefore more difficult to assess.

        Fortunately, if it isn’t “the good stuff,” then apparently that is not as important as people like Turin may believe, because it’s just fine, AFAIC. What I’ve tried to convey to readers about these scents is that when certain notes are removed or diminished considerably, the scent might become cloying and unwearable. I’ve experienced many recent designer scents with a listed sandalwood note (and no other wood note mentioned), and these wood notes do not come across as what I experience in Zino, Lapidus Pour Homme, etc., so as I’ve said, I am basing this mostly on experience. In this case, when I combine my experience with what Turin has said, it seems like there could be some natural sandalwood in some of these scents, but whatever the case actually is, these sandalwood notes smell a lot better than recent designer ones.

        You are claiming that reformulations essentially do not matter, but I don’t want a natural-smelling sandalwood note removed, and in some cases I won’t wear the scent if that is done. This is the main point: you are telling people that due to one aftershave study of debatable interpretation (at least in this context) they should ignore the missing sandalwood note and not try to find the formulation they consider enjoyable, which strikes me as ridiculous.

  3. “You are claiming that reformulations essentially do not matter” – I have never claimed that at all. Show me where I have.

    Reformulations are notable. They matter to those who find it discouraging that fragrances undergo “overnight change” at the hands of their manufacturers. I acknowledge that. Just don’t tell me in broad strokes that the vintage stuff is better.

    I know from a GENERAL standpoint that it isn’t better from firsthand experience, which is corroborated by what industry professionals have told me. I’ve provided firsthand accounts that contradict the claim that vintage perfumes are accurate representations of how the perfumers intended the compositions to smell, and so has Elena. She likes some vintages. So do I. If you want to tell me that you like vintage better and that’s where it ends, then I think that’s great.

    What I have claimed is that many reformulations are acceptable, even if not ideal, and are not inferior to vintages. Not ALL reformulations. But many. This is subjective. I have documented the subjectivity of it – revisit my review of Lagerfeld Classic, and the many reviews of people who feel it smells like the original version that I published there. Visit the Lagerfeld Classic pates on BN and Fragrantica to read additional reviews that feel the new stuff sucks. You would disagree with the first population and agree with the rest. That makes it subjective. So where is our argument?

    I should point out that with the exception of my mentioning Luca Turin, my latest blog post in no way bothers to touch on any of your blog’s points, and was not written as an attack against you. Believe it or not, most of what I’ve written this year is in no way directed at you, with the exception of KL Homme.

    • Since you brought up the “KL Homme issue,” I think it’s only fair for you to respond to a direct question, as I have been doing. And since those posts, I’ve found other scents that nobody talks about online, but that have what appear to be ridiculously high prices on ebay (that is, sold items, not asking prices). What do you say to those who argue that this represents a clear “market,” however small, that appears to be unrelated to any kind of recent hype?

      As to my statement: “You are claiming that reformulations essentially do not matter,” yes I can see your point, as I think you may agree with Dame in viewing vintage as “old dreck” or something along those lines. So, I may have actually understated that point! Beyond that, I’ll let those who read your blog posts to decide for themselves, but for me, your point of view on this is obvious. Now let’s take your latest statement: “I know from a GENERAL standpoint that it isn’t better from firsthand experience, which is corroborated by what industry professionals have told me… What I have claimed is that many reformulations are acceptable, even if not ideal, and are not inferior to vintages.”

      First, I couldn’t care less what those with clear conflicts of interest have told you (and while I disagree with some of what Turin has said, I find him much more credible than those with a stake in getting people to buy new scents; readers can decide for themselves). Second, as I’ve said many times, I “follow my nose,” and in fact in many cases I just took the cap off the bottle and said something like, “this one has a decent sandalwood note” or “this one seems to be lacking that sandalwood note the other bottle possesses.” Third, what’s acceptable to you is fine, but there are some who don’t agree with you on this point, and those are the people I write for in particular. I was shocked by how much better most vintage is than high-priced niche, and I want people to know about it. They may disagree, but blogs are for expressing one’s opinion. I was also shocked at how bad so many reformulations of the “designer greats” are, and again I want to get the word out. Apparently, because you disagree, you make claims that are absurd, IMO, in an effort to convince readers that you are “right,” whereas I don’t care if people agree with me or not.

      Lastly, from what I’ve read, you seem like someone who enjoys top notes and uses many sprays per application (and if you don’t it’s clear many people do). Doing that would make me feel ill rather quickly, and I think sensitivities play a role here, allowing me to usually use one or two sprays, and even then I try to avoid most of the top notes. Clearly, this can lead to significantly different experiences, and from the many posts on sites like Basenotes, it’s clear that many “newbies” and more than a few “veterans” experience olfactory fatigue. Many have admitted to not smelling much after an hour or even less. When I pass by some people in public, it seems like they doused themselves in a scent, leading to the top/middle notes lastly much longer, with perhaps little if any ability to appreciate base notes. The point here is that “better” base notes may mean nothing to people who use scents in a way that is very different from the way I do. I’ve point this out before but TMK you’ve never addressed this.

      • Bryan Ross

        Bigsly you have a tendency to ask me questions that I have already answered long ago. “Capitalism” is not a market . What you see on Ebay is not Perfect Competition, not an oligopoly, not a monopoly, and not monopsony. So what do you call a few people online who make up prices off the top of their head and maybe if they’re lucky sell fragrances for those made-up prices? A very small independent market? A few stupid buyers? What do you call the person who reads an Ebay ad claiming to have “1980 vintage Red for Men” for $180? I call it “an ass for every seat stupid” but you apparently think this means there’s a market if some anonymous ID on Ebay appears to buy it.

      • But you are not addressing my point, which is that a whole lot of scents that have not gotten hype after perhaps a 1977 TV commercial are selling for “big bucks,” along with some recent designers (like V Valentino for Men), which also don’t seem to have gotten more than perhaps a few positive (and some negative) reviews on BN or Fragrantica. You now seem to be arguing one of my points, which is that it looks like a small market, but it’s definitely there, or do you think the majority of these sales are bogus? If so, how many sales would constitute a non-bogus market? Your argument was that “hype” was involved, along with greedy sellers, but that is not consistent with the actual evidence. And why do you keep bringing up one example? You’ve never heard that “the exception proves the rule?”

        Lately, I’ve sent messages to quite a few ebay sellers who list several bottles, asking them if they would give me a discount if I took all the bottles, and none of them said “yes, if you pay me X,” though in some cases the bottles sit there for months (at least). They seem either be “mom and pop operations” or they have sold a bottle of two of the “rare ones” and are willing to wait, but this is not related to scents that are selling now at the “big bucks” price levels. Anyone can use ebay’s sold item search feature to see if that is the case or not. I’ve point out that Red for Men bottles look very similar, no matter what the formulation, which may be a factor with that one and a few others, but you have ignored that point.

        With KL Homme, I pointed out that there was a bottle of the same size selling for a dollar or two more, yet you are fixated on “price gougers,” apparently. Why? Why not have a little patience and wait for a good deal to come along? That’s what I’ve done for years now! And why get “bent out of shape” by someone who may be rich and spends $80 instead of $40 on a bottle because he wants it immediately? I know some people who buy up sale items at supermarkets and freeze them or put them in a closet for a while to save money, whereas I know other people who don’t like to do that – isn’t that just part of living in at least a moderately “free society?”

  4. There’s a lot to cover with your questions. You asked them, so I’ll try to answer them. First, I don’t care what people do with their money, and it doesn’t bother me personally if they spend big bucks on things for instant gratification. People’s choices are their own to make and they don’t effect me one whit.

    But Bigsly it takes a lot to determine whether a real market exists for something. Observing random internet sales that are made between unknown entities is not nearly enough. For one thing, there’s the question of whether the majority of sales are legitimate to begin with, and not just sellers attempting to make something look desirable by posting the sale with one account and buying it back up with another. Also a lot of the “shill bidding” that goes on seems to happen frequently with perfume on Ebay.

    Let’s assume though for argument’s sake that most of the buyers are honest and separate entities from the sellers. Who are the buyers? Why are they buying the fragrance? What kind of buying is this, really? Are they buying to resell at a higher price? Are they commercial buyers or just private collectors? That information is very, very hard to determine accurately. What percentage of each are we talking about? That is unknown.

    I notice you list a lot of the same fragrances being sold (at rapidly escalating prices) to try to prove that there’s a market for them. How do you know that it’s not the same bottles floating between resellers? And are they attempting to buy “wholesale” here and accumulate a lot of vintage fragrances for their Ebay merchant sites (the coveted vintage “lot”)?

    If they are, then what is really happening is merchandise is trading hands, which ostensibly helps the reseller in two ways: (1) their purchase validates jacking the price up at least another 25%, and (2) the reseller, if eager enough, could “corner the market” by buying up as many of the same fragrance as possible, thereby further justifying price increases and further limiting what little competition there may be. Call it a “mini monopoly” if you want to. There is some semblance of real marketplace behavior there, if only on an individual level (which is not enough to constitute calling this frequent practice an actual market for the fragrances).

    Then what happens? This is where I think in a best case scenario for your argument, you see maybe out of 100% of all the perfume buyers on Ebay, less than 1% shelling out huge dollars for these vintages. Maybe 1 or 2% willing to shell out “reasonable” dollars for vintages, and rarely at that – many Grey Flannels have been up for “Buy It Now” and auction for months, and GF is rarely expensive on there, even in vintage. If there are five or six people willing to spend $700 on vintage Patou PH, you can bet that all the “watchers” are just in it for the show. Why? Because of the odds.

    This is a high risk venture for the buyer. And this goes for any vintage at any price beyond $20 (shipping and tax included). Let’s see what I’m doing here if I buy: I’m going to put my trust in the seller’s knowledge (and honesty), to spend anywhere from 25% to 100% (or even higher percentages) more on a very old perfume, sight “un-sniffed,” and hope I get lucky when it arrives? That’s why I say there’s an ass for every seat.

    There’s bound to be one person out there who will pay $80 for 2.5 ounces of KL Homme, but given that it can be found in brick and mortar stores for less than half that price, one has to wonder at the intelligence of the buyer. I recall that $36 KL Homme you mentioned, and seem to recall that was the “starting price” of an auction, and not a “Buy It Now.”

    That brings us to the core of my argument about vintage economics.

    My argument about the “contrived Ebay market for vintage” had nothing to do with “hype.” My argument centered around the fact that almost none of the sellers on Ebay seem to know what to price their items at – they’re operating outside of a real market. In other words they’re operating “in the dark.”

    Their prices are arbitrary. Look at Mennen Skin Bracer – a cheapie – one seller is trying to get $45.99 “Buy It Now” for one 6 oz vintage bottle, while another seller is asking $20.95 for two 6 oz vintage bottles. These sellers know what they’re doing? Kind of doubtful.

    If I go to a brick and mortar and by some luck happen to find old Skin Bracer there under the counter, and he’s only asking $10 more than what Skin Bracer goes for brand new at the drugstore ($7 or $8 tops), that’s $18 max, and THAT’S the market value of vintage Skin Bracer. He has done inventory, and calculated his profit margin based on in-store sales and demand for each product, with all price calculations done against his competition’s pricing. He has to do that to stay in business. Ebay sellers don’t have to do that to stay in “business” if you want to call it that. If they price outrageously, there’s no check or balance on it, other than the buyer’s discretion. If they price reasonably, there’s no incentive for the buyer to buy – the may figure the longer they wait, the cheaper the seller will post it for out of desperation or something, until they’re almost giving it away.

    The fact that V by Valentino is going strong on Ebay is easy to understand from this perspective – they discontinued a relatively new scent that meets current trends. Who knows why? Eventually the sales listings will appear “saturated” and the buying will slow down dramatically. Yet the prices will continue to rise because V will continue to age, seemingly to become more “in demand.”

    That’s where the contrivance comes in – Valentino did not find the product to be “in demand” for themselves, which means there was no market for it, or there was a very weak market that wasn’t profitable. What do we have now? An “aftermarket?” Possible for a limited time, and only because V is less than 10 years old. Ultimately the continued resurgence of this fragrance on Ebay listings is simply a novelty act residing outside the larger market models that exist. The occasional novelty sale by anonymous buyers from anonymous sellers does not constitute a market for the product. The merchants and buyers are still operating in the dark when it comes to transactions involving V.

    The fact that none of these fragrances are being made anymore in their original formula (or in any formula) suggests the real market for them was too weak to begin with, and the fact that so many sellers don’t know what to price their product at suggests the phenomenon on Ebay is far murkier and in need of closer scrutiny before any accurate pronouncements of the existence of a real market for vintage can be made.

    • I think I made a strong argument in my posts on the subject, for example, pointing out that scents such as Stetson Country seem to have a reasonably high priced market whereas other old ones do not. I’m not going to research hundreds of scents on ebay, unless perhaps someone pays me for doing that kind of work. If anyone thinks I am wrong they can do that work and I think they will find that all kinds of scents with no apparent “hype” (and which don’t even seem to have been popular at any time in the past) are selling at what we agree are “high” prices. As I’ve pointed out before, I’ve seen this happen in different areas before, including “fine art,” and the “old timers” would say, “what’s going on – that’s stuff isn’t worth anything like those prices,” yet the prices continued to rise.

      Now I’d say that one should beware of a possible “bubble” soon, but with the IFRA hype I think prices will settle at least a bit higher than where they are presently, whether that’s a year or several years from now is where I’d say the uncertainty lies. I would agree with those who argue that unlike “vintage hype,” “IFRA hype” may be real, in that the industry was going in this direction even if IFRA didn’t exist, though perhaps a few scents would contain a lot more oakmoss, etc. than they do now. If an alarm was to be sounded, it seems like the time to do that was more than a few years ago (and in fact, that’s what Turin was saying in his 2008 “The Guide” book, which is where the price rise on ebay may have gotten a big boost).

      • Bryan Ross

        Stetson Country can be had for $14 & free shipping on Bonanza.com. Why am I going to buy it for $45 on Ebay?

      • A. A lot of people don’t know how to search well or just don’t do it (they go straight to amazon or ebay).
        B. There are sites that list discontinued scents as available but they don’t have it in stock and will never get it in stock again.
        C. People want the “ebay guarantee.”
        D. Prices do seem to rise and fall for some scents on ebay, which has allowed me to get some very good deals (I’ve even seen excellent deals on Envy for Men, but always for the Scannon version, which I don’t want).
        E. It doesn’t matter why people are buying at higher prices on ebay (in some cases); if a market is established there then that’s the “economic reality.” This isn’t about one person’s “rational” decision-making, but rather the trends. And when people see a trend, some of those people want to take advantage of it and make some money, just like rising stock prices, for example.

  5. A) I think you underestimate the intelligence of the average person. A simple Google search reveals cheaper prices instantly. Ebay is actually a lot harder to navigate. Just a quick (under one minute) search on Google yielded yet another bottle of Stetson Country aftershave on abellasbeauty.com for $20.

    B) I don’t really see how point B helps your argument. If there was a market for these discontinued fragrances, these sites would stock them again. Ebay would not have any available because all of these Fragrancenet-styled online perfume retailers would have snapped them up for themselves. The fact that they don’t just bolsters my case. Kind of like Amazon does for Zino. Which can still be had very cheaply, and is still in production. There’s a market for Zino online – at steady prices that do not fluctuate – consistently under $25 at any given time. I bought mine a couple years ago for $20. It is now selling for $24.

    C) The “ebay guarantee” doesn’t work very well for the seller. It only works (somewhat well, not perfectly) for the buyer. If you have experience selling on ebay like I have, you know that dealing with the bay and Paypal can be a total nightmare. Paypal makes a habit of withholding your earnings for no discernible reason. Any other business model would be more desirable, even a cash-only business.

    D) I partially agree with you here. You can get terrific deals on Ebay. Of that there’s no doubt. For the buyer it’s like picking through a yard sale online. Here and there you see something marked reasonably. Elsewhere you see absurdly misguided prices. But like I said, a “market” needs to be established based on solid information about how much fragrance is really being purchased and used, vs. how much is just moving around aimlessly between hopeful sellers with half-baked ebay storefronts. Sorry, but the 40 or 50 guys and girls on basenotes doesn’t constitute a “market.” Your latest vintage poll on there seemed to show the real level of enthusiasm, even on a perfume forum. I won’t ruin it in case you wanted to mention those poll results in a future blog post, but you took a poll on who would definitely buy vintage when a good deal presents itself . . .

    E) I admit I don’t understand at all what you’re talking about here. Try telling a shop owner that it “doesn’t matter” why people are buying (or trying to sell) a fragrance for a certain dollar amount. You can’t write a business plan on “whatever.” Here is an example of why: My mother loved Fendi Donna and would do anything to have a bottle. It was the only thing she wore for fifteen years. But she has searched high and low for it and has told me a few times that she’d never pay the ridiculous prices she sees bottles listed for on Ebay. This fragrance was about $50 for a 3.3 oz bottle in the nineties, before it started showing up at Walgreens and CVS, when its price dropped. “buscaperfumes” on Ebay is attempting to sell a 3.3 oz bottle for $299.99. It says “Make Offer” under the “Buy It Now” button. I’m sorry, but no market can sustain 600% price increases on “old stock” and see businesses develop a model for that. And this fragrance has been on there quite a while, about a year now. It is a typical vintage on Ebay. Something tells me it cost this guy at least 500% over original pricing to attain this vintage, and his profit margin is pretty frightening.

    • A. Again you are assuming that everyone is like you, which seems to me to be a character flaw !
      B. Fragrance stores are not going to go out and “hunt” for vintage, since they seem to come on the market (in large amounts) when a “hoard” is discovered. This is consistent with what I’ve found in other collectible markets as well. Some of the online sites seem to be “mom and pop,” and run in an amateurish way, in my experience. One wouldn’t refund me a dollar when I complained that a sample they sent me leaked, for example (they would sometimes run out of stock yet were slow to take the item of their site or list it as “out of stock”). There was a listing for Live Jazz on ebay as well as the scentedmonkey site, which IIRC was $5 for 50 ml. I ordered a couple bottles from both sites and a day or so later was told that it was a mistake and I wasn’t going to get any bottles. These were major sellers (though the ebay seller may have been SM selling under a different name., for all I know) !
      C. This guarantee has worked great for me, and I’d guess I have considerably more experience than you do buying vintage/discontinued on ebay.
      D. I just mentioned what I’ve seen on ebay over the last few years especially. That poll was not done in a socially scientific way and I was just curious what would result, mostly to see how many people would be interested in responding at all. All markets have ebbs and flows, so I don’t know why ebay prices must be different
      E. Again, this is not about any one person or one kind of business owner. If a guy who owns a “B&M” store wants to dabble on ebay, then he has to deal with the reality there, which could change quickly. It’s a market, just like with day traders on the stock market, who might invest all their money in one stock, thinking that they will get out within a few minutes. Even though this is generally “safe” (meaning they might gain or lose a small amount), something “crazy” can happen and they can lose nearly all their money within minutes if not seconds. Ebay seems to have two levels here, one established by those who list at “high” prices and another where there are a lot of listings starting at “low” prices. In some cases, this is rare and there are almost always very high prices. I’ve listed the names of these scents (that I’ve seen so far), such as Patou Pour Homme, Vintage Tabarome, Macassar, etc. If you disagree and claim that the concept of a specific “ebay market” exists for various scents, then I guess we’ll have to “agree to disagree,” but from my understanding of economics, a market could be just about any kind of situation where there is a fairly regular exchange of goods or services for money (or something else of abstract “value”), assuming we leave out barter (since there is plenty of swapping online but probably hardly any at ebay, where you’d have to spend a lot of time trying to convince sellers to trade with you).

  6. Point B of my prior comment, in conjunction with your latest point B, pretty much shores up my position. Now you’re arguing that supply is too limited and sporadic, only profitable when a huge “hoard” or “lot” is uncovered. What is stopping Fragrancenet and similar merchant sites from snapping up those lots and selling them? Your idea of there being “lots” makes this type of deal even easier to get in on. They don’t have to hunt and peck to amass a storeroom shelf of individual bottles. They can buy them all in one shot. So if what you say is true, they would be doing that all the time, Fragrancenet’s reputation would dramatically improve with perfume aficionados, and their business would double. Yet this isn’t happening, and you’re telling me about merchants that either don’t want to or can’t deliver you older stock. If there was a real market, supply would be constant and it would trickle up to the big players and not down to the anonymous sellers, because demand would be constant. So we’ll have to agree to disagree Bigsly.

    At 600% mark-ups, and almost every mark-up over 100%, I just don’t see a viable market for vintage fragrances. I understand that there is a painfully small movement of collectors buying them against availability factors and not price comparisons, but that’s not enough. My last thought is that after all these years of people hawking these things online, you would think someone would say “I’ll bet there’s an even better market for this if I open a few brick and mortar stores selling only vintage fragrances, where people can even sample these vintages immediately before buying them!” Many of the enraged vintage lovers who responded to Elena’s piece might put their money where their mouth is and do that, I should think. Yet it has never been done.

    • What I’ve seen is that sometimes one seller on ebay seems to have gotten his/her hands on a “hoard,” whereas other times you see it among several sellers, including one or more of the major discount online retailers. I provided the example of Ho Hand Club, for example. I’m not sure what your point is, as I can only guess that this is what has occurred (no other explanation makes sense). Moreover, this same kind of thing can and has occurred in much more “established” markets, such as “precious metals.” Also, remember what the major department stores are selling these concoctions for these days! I saw The Dreamer listed on Macy’s site at about $75, so by that standard, $80 for two ounce of KL Homme seems like quite a bargain, so that may be why some people are paying “high” prices whereas others think it’s a bloated market or “rigged” in some way. The really high prices, such as for Patou Pour Homme, were confirmed (to my satisfaction) when an apparent hoard was found (90 ml EdT spray bottles, IIFR). I posted about it on BN and within a couple of days the many bottles had all been purchased; I think the price was around $325.

      People are paying those kinds of “ridiculous” prices for a small number of scents, but then there are ones that don’t make sense to me, and suggests a fairly sizable “fan base” (since there are just too many examples), such as K. de Krizia. Look up ebay item number 370688800658, for instance. Twenty one new, 100 ml K de Krizia EdP bottles sold at about $120 total. Only two remain available! I’ve purchased a new 50 ml vintage of this scent recently for a whole lot less; some are still available (there was a half used 50 ml just sitting there for very little the other day) at much better prices, so I can’t dismiss the possibility that there are quite a few people who are not doing much thinking here. The idea that such sold item results are 90% or more fake is simply not credible in light of all the sales I’ve seen, especially for the Stetson Country, V Valentino Men, and K de Krizia type scents. If almost everyone was smart, as you argue, then there would be no point to generating fake sale results, because there are also bottles just sitting there at much lower prices most of the time !

      • Bryan Ross

        K di Krizia is available for $25 on Amazon. Paying anything more than that is crazy. I bought a bottle three years ago in a shop for $50. Anything outside that range? Insane.

      • What I would say here, and I’ve seen other, similar cases, is that it appears “crazy,” but something is occurring that deserves investigation. It may as simple as a seller developing a “good reputation” over the years, and so he/she has a loyal following of people looking for “older” scents. In this case, it’s the EdP, which seems to be selling for more than the EdT. After reading the reviews for K de Krizia, it seemed like the important thing was to find a vintage formulation, rather than to choose EdP over Edt, so that’s what I did. However, for some reason we can’t fathom the EdP may have developed a “fan base” at some point (possible explanation number two). And it could also be something of a combination of the two (that is, some people wanting the EdP but seeking a “reputable seller”). For me, these kinds of situations represent some kind of “market,” even if some sort of “irrational” element is involved, as is often the case (remember Greenspan’s “irrational exuberance” claims?). It may not last long, but from what I have seen it’s been there for some scents for at elast a few years now, with prices on ones that seem to be more sought-after rising significantly (in terms of actual sales), though due to how ebay structures it’s sales options (buy it now or variable starting prices on auctions) sometimes one “slips through the cracks” at a “low” price. Still, considering niche prices, I consider many of these prices to be reasonable. As I said about KL Homme, I think it’s worth considerably more than The Dreamer, and yet at department store prices, even “high” prices on ebay are roughly at the same level (last time I looked).

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