The team at British GQ have reviewed our new UNITE Cologne Collection.
"As British razor-maker Thomas Clipper launches its first range of interchangeable men's scents, we speak to the duo behind the label, Matt Brown and Antonio Weiss, about how they're shaking up the grooming scene one crowdfunded project at a time."
The full interview is here:
GQ: Why the move from shaving into fragrance?
Antonio Weiss: Our customers are always looking for something different from the norm, something more interesting that they can be proud to own. That's why our Unite collection is not only formulated in Grasse, France - the fragrance capital of the world - and made in Britain, it's also made from organic alcohol, with zero animal testing and ten per cent of profits go to charity. More importantly, because of the blending concept, it’s the complete antithesis of mass-produced scent: each wear is totally unique to you.
What’s the inspiration behind these scents?
Matt Brown: We were inspired by discovery. When we started creating scents with our nose in Grasse we were amazed by how satisfying it is to create your own personalised fragrances. I found myself blending together different scents, first to get a better idea of what we wanted to make, then just because I wanted to explore and finally because I wanted to put together the right fragrance for the mood, time of day or even the weather. I called Antonio and said, "The best thing about this is blending them together - isn’t there something we can do with that?"
AW: On top of that, we saw a disunity in politics on both sides of the Atlantic, which we thought was not a reflection of the best of us. So we set out to make a cologne that makes a statement about how the men wearing it feel about the world: that they thrive in the City, with its modern barbershop scents of lavender and aromatics; that they love the Coast, with its green and refreshing notes; and that they feel at home in Country, with its intense woody scent and undertones of sandalwood. Or even more, that they can combine all of them, and feel at ease in all.
Have their been any particular challenges in crafting these?
AW: We quickly found out that creating a fantastic fragrance is difficult. Creating three is harder. But making sure that all three of the Unite cologne collection fragrances can be blended to form sophisticated, complex and attractive scents was diabolical. Once we decided a blending collection was the goal it required dozens of years of collective fragrance development expertise.
MB: Eventually we put together a shortlist of eight. This lead to a long list of possible blends, all of which had to pass muster. Some fragrances were less exciting alone, but lent themselves to really exciting combinations. Some were very good alone but utterly inappropriate for mixing. Getting to the final list of three was a fascinating and extremely challenging process, but we think our customers will be happy we went through it.
Have you canvassed opinion from a lot of people on these scents or have you gone on your own gut instincts?
MB: We asked our customers what they wanted first and foremost. But after they told us a cologne, we started with our gut instincts mixed with a couple professional opinions.
AW: That was the only option really when it came to making a blending cologne collection: there are too many moving parts in the fine tuning stages of development. And on top of that cologne is such a personal subjective thing. We had to be able to be 100 per cent behind what we were making before we could share it. So it was only when we had our three final fragrances chosen that we began testing.
MB: The good news was that our selection connected really well with our customers. Each is subtle and complex, so you won’t get noticed the minute you walk into a room. And that’s a problem if you’re looking for something that makes a loud statement, but we think it’s perfect for men who want something a bit more sophisticated, something that grows on your friends and loved ones slowly over time, becoming part of what they remember about you when you’re gone and what makes them happy to see you when you’re back.
How do you apply a fragrance? Are you a mist-and-walk guy, a spray on the neck kind of guy?
AW: With Unite we’re constantly learning more and pushing the limits of applications. For example, we’ve done a little bit of experimenting with one fragrance on the wrist and another on the neck. This allows you to have a certain scent profile for people whose hands you shake and another for those who you kiss hello. It’s subtle and there’s blending of the two in your general scent. But of course they’re designed to be blended, giving you the flexibility to make this kind of thing work.
MB: We’ve also been able to experiment with time in interesting ways. For example, right now I’m wearing Country and Coast in equal blends, but after dinner I might freshen up with another spritz of Country to add a little extra depth to my cologne.
And finally, who was the nose on these fragrances?
MB: We'd like to keep our nose close to our chest. Not literally, that would be weird.