What Is Phlur?
Phlur is a line of six unisex fragrances that attempts to cut the BS out of shopping for a signature scent.
You know—the pomp of celebrity-named perfumes, over-the-top marketing, and ridiculous packaging that drives up a product’s price and detract from what a scent actually smells like.
To do so, the online-only brand tries to avoid lengthy descriptions of scent notes and, instead, presents shoppers with a multi-sensory storyboard for each fragrance, including images, music, and adjective-laden descriptions that combine to give you a sense of a scent’s overall vibe.
While this pared down approach to marketing olfactory notes is certainly refreshing, how Phlur describes their scents might send you for a loop. We’ll explain more shortly. But first, a little background on the brand.
The Team & Concept Behind Phlur
Eric Korman, the founder of the Austin-based fragrance line, was formerly president of global e-commerce for Ralph Lauren and boasts two decades of experience working with consumer brands.
With him behind the scenes of Phlur is Anne Serrano-McClain, a talented perfumer who has studied under masters in Grasse, France. And, Chandler Burr, an acclaimed scent expert and critic.
The idea was to create an easy and fun way to shop for a quality fragrance from your couch, test it out on your actual body instead of a swatch of paper, and all without wasting your time or money. With that in mind:
Phlur Pricing & How to Shop
Shopping for a new scent is simple: Browse the product pages for each of Phlur’s scents and choose two mini bottles of fragrance you’d like to try. (More on scent descriptions shortly.)
These two samples (about enough for one week of wear) will be sent to your for $10. If you decide to purchase a full bottle, the $85 price tag is cut to $75.
Note: Phlur limits samples to two at a time so that you’re not overwhelmed. However, you can order up to three samples sets for credit, accumulating up to $30 in funds that can be put towards a full bottle.
Because Phlur is a small startup, there’s a heavy focus on customer satisfaction. If you’re not happy with the product you received, contact them at email@example.com or call 888-771-9434 and they promise to figure out a way to make you happy with your order.
Phlur Focuses on Storytelling and Adjectives, Rather Than Notes and Accords
First, if you’re unfamiliar with traditional perfume shopping, consumers are typically subjected to fragrance descriptions that have lengthy explanatory text surrounding notes and oils that overwhelmingly feel like a long-winded waiter describing wine – “Woodsy with hints of floral, undertones of citrus, etc.”
In an attempt to take the fuss and pomp out of scent shopping, Phlur also takes a fresh approach to how individual scents are described: using a combination of descriptions, images, and music to help your shop.
To begin, Phlur depends on some rather avant-garde fragrance descriptions that appeal almost strictly to your ego. For example, Hepcat’s description: “Coarse and fearless, Hepcat is the warm wool jacket enveloping you, and your favorite whiskey invigorating you.”
To me, this description begs the question “Who do you want to be?” much more than “How do you want to smell?”
For those whom “coarse and fearless” is a tad vague (you’re not alone), Phlur takes an almost synesthetic approach by supplementing each scent’s descriptions with visual and auditory aides that help you understand the mood of a scent.
The visual aides are pretty straightforward and most certainly designed to appeal to a generation that loves Pinterest and Instagram: Each scent basically has six or seven storyboard pics that create a mood.
This is interesting, but trying to decide if I identify more with a desert or a New England cottage gave me a mini existential crisis.
What did do it for me were each scent’s playlists. Getting to scroll through familiar songs that the creator associated with the scent was interesting and helped me start to identify with the descriptions and images in a way that the writing alone didn’t – and, in fact, actually helped me narrow down which ones I would choose.
This method of multi-sensory engagement is really what defines the Phlur brand. With that being said, it would be something of a disservice to list their six scents as boiled down to “oriental” or “floral.” Instead, I suggest you check out their fragrance descriptions as intended – with the full, immersive experience.
Some extra notes about the company and your Phlur orders before you shop:
- Phlur’s scents are Eau de perfume, which is made with roughly 10–20 % oil.
- Each bottle has a magnetic cap to ensure it’s not likely to be lost.
- Phlur emphasizes sustainable materials throughout, such as 20% recycled glass in its bottles.
- Each of Phlur’s six scents are unisex, and can be worn by men and women.
Finally, Phlur also wants to serve as a guide to wearing fragrances. Each of its six scents has a tip sheet on how many times and where they should be sprayed, how far the fragrance will travel once applied and how long it will last on skin and clothing, respectively.
Could You Find Your Next Signature Scent at Phlur?
This company knows their target market: Young, hip, environmentally-conscious, and nonplussed about traditional gender roles. Additionally, the “pros” of Phlur are clear: Try interesting, quality scents without ever having to stop by a fragrance counter again.
However, as a prospective consumer, I had two concerns:
First, I appreciate Phlur’s fresh take on scents and love good marketing copy that tells a story, but feel as if Phlur’s descriptions are almost a little too pandering.
For example, the description “Siano evokes the exact moment in the night when the music and the lights converge in perfect harmony” does very little to help me decide whether or not I’d enjoy this scent. The corresponding images of nightclub-goers seemed almost generic, and the music failed to resonate because I hadn’t heard of the bands.
Granted, a Phlur representative might say that it just goes to show that Siano isn’t for me. However, I’d like to be able to make that determination with a little concrete understanding of a scent’s tones – and not just overly flowery descriptions.
Finally, I appreciate Phlur’s take on gender-neutral scents. However, just removing the gender from advertising doesn’t necessarily make it unisex. For example, Greylocke, the scent whose playlist and description I enjoyed best, is a pine-based scent. Which, in my opinion, is pretty clearly masculine. Or, at least, too masculine for me to wear.
With those pros and cons in mind: If you like to have fun with fragrance and Phlur’s unique branding has already whisked you off your feet, you really can’t find a better deal than their two sample vials for $10! Additionally, the brand’s customer service seems absolutely eager to please.
Just make sure you understand what sort of things you like (or dislike) about a scent for the best chance of picking samples that match your fragrance style.