Why 90s and 2000s fragrances are back in fashion

Britney Spears launched her first perfume, Curious, in 2004Getty Images

It’s not just our clothing choices that are directly influenced by nostalgia for the 90s and 2000s – the decades when consumption was slower and fashions more cheeky; it also marks our olfactory associations, with popular fragrances from decades back on trend.

According to various beauty product retailers, searches and sales are increasing for iconic fragrances synonymous with this era.

“Sales of some of the most popular fragrances of the 2000s are on the rise as people embrace everything the 90s and early 2000s had to offer,” says Jonny Webber of PerfumeDirect.com, “from iconic fragrances created by Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez (who officially started the celebrity fragrance trend) to the late Thierry Mugler’s Alien which gained notoriety this year thanks to TikTok.

That scent follows fashion (yes, we’ve officially welcomed Uggs and low-rise jeans) makes sense, given the close connection between smell and memory. “After all, scent has the power to instantly transport us back in time,” says Webber, “evoking memories and giving us the feel-good factor that a lot of people are craving right now.” Plus, for those millennials and up, it can be a softer re-entry into the vibe of the era than sporting a belly chain or diving into the Ganni x Juicy Couture collection, with its velor tracksuits defended at the time. originally by Paris Hilton.

That said, it’s likely that many people currently consuming these 90s and 2000s scents are those who didn’t experience them the first time around. Webber notes that the TikTok generation discovering some of these cult classics “gives them a whole new lease of life in 2022.”

los angeles, ca may 10 jennifer lopez celebrates 10 years of fragrance with coty and the launch of her brilliant new fragrance by jlo at the bel air hotel on may 10, 2012 in los angeles, california photo by christopher polkgetty images for coty

Christopher PolkGetty Images

The retailer cites Spears’ Curious, Lopez’s Glow, the original Juicy Couture and CK One (one of the first beauty products openly marketed as unisex) among the fragrances experiencing spikes in sales.

“Many of the most popular fragrances of this decade truly embody the fun, carefree and opulence of the era – from celebrity scents, fashion brands turned perfumers and sweet, playful fruity scents that take us back to a more innocent times.” A pre-social media time; to imagine.

LookFantastic has also confirmed that its buyers are on the lookout for these types of fragrances. Talk to Bazaar, the retailer has revealed that demand for Mugler Alien on the site has increased by 25% this year as the 90s revival continues and the 2000s trend explodes. We would understand that the sad passing of the designer is also related to the increase. As in the music industry, when an influential person in the world of fashion – and by extension perfume – dies, the sale of their products as posthumous tributes can take place, and Mugler’s Angel perfumes and Alien, which were innovative at launch, are now considered iconic.

However, Mugler isn’t the only designer fragrance brand on the rise at LookFantastic. Classique by Jean Paul Gaultier (originally called JPGaultier Eau de Parfum when it was launched in 1993) saw a 5% increase in searches.

JLo Glow, the extremely popular 2002 launch, for which searches on LookFantastic increased by 15%, surpasses this figure.

This matches general Google searches for “90s fragrances” (up 96% in the past month) and “year 2000 fragrances” (up 100% since February).

Another classic throwback, Clinique’s Happy, which encapsulates for us 2022’s desire to look back to wrest some optimism for the future. Clinique tells us that compared to January of this year, sales in March saw a whopping 51% increase. The beauty brand’s best-selling women’s fragrance – an uplifting fruity floral – carries the tagline: “Wear it and be happy.” No wonder it’s the new, albeit old, tonic of our times.

Clinique Happy Perfume Spray



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Sarah C. Figueiredo