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Teenage Boys are Trading FIFA for Fragrance and This is What They Want

January 1 | 3 minute read

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Words by Kerri Gordon

Originally published on | December 20

Are teenage boys… about to smell good? Has Jeremy Fragrance, one of TikTok’s most peculiar creators, actually made a difference? Is it possible… that shopping for a signature scent… is the new FIFA?

These are the questions that have been pounding in my head from the moment a MECCA HQ colleague told me her 16 year old son “and his mates’” new favourite pastime was to consider, collect and compare cologne. (I’m guessing pickleball didn’t stick?).

I’m as impressed as I am flabbergasted. This just can’t be the same species I rode the bus home with. Times have changed - and for the better. I tapped said 16-year old, Freddie, for the inside word.

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They want compliments (and fair enough)

A scroll down the rabbit hole of ‘PerfumeTok’ is all the proof you need to know that a large majority of fragrance buyers seek a scent to spark a response from the people around them - whether that be of love, lust, admiration or approval.

As primates, personal scent is intrinsically linked to the way we are perceived - afterall, before essential oils and synthetic molecules came pheromones. At a very base level, it’s our mating call - so to pique the interest of teenage boys makes a lot of sense.

“I became interested in fragrance through a combination of influencers recommending which scents to buy for compliments,” said Freddie, “and then the subsequent word of mouth that transpires from the viewing of those opinions.” Sure, in some parts it’s about impressing girls as one might assume, but even more so, a desire to impress the inner circle (and maybe even flex a little).

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The ‘metrosexual’ is dead - and it’s okay for men to care

When Freddie mentioned Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille as a favourite amongst his friends, I couldn’t help but smirk knowing it’s the EDP famously worn by Harry Styles. Pop stars and sporting figures have increasingly made it acceptable for men to luxuriate in beauty, facing - or creating their own - colognes, perfumes and toilettes in a very public way.

When David Beckham “controversially” rocked a sarong in 1998, and the late Shane Warne became the face of hair loss therapy in 2006, the label “metrosexual” was fast assigned as a justification for straight men with a vested interest in their appearance. Today, the likes of AFL players like Bailey Smith, actors like Jacob Elordi and Timothee Chalamet and, of course, musicians like Harry Styles have shifted the status quo, and through their heart-throbbing-ness and oozing cool have inspired young men to lean in.

Freddie added: “a new pastime has kind of been developed in which you and a couple mates would go to the city and head to MECCA to sample some fragrances.”

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TikTok is giving young men a platform for their fragrance obsession

From the at times whacky (and dare I say, hilariously cringe) @JeremyFragrance with 7.3 million followers to local creator @FBFragrances, older-brother-style content on scent - what’s hot, what’s not, and how to wear it, when - has become an algorithmic niche with mass appeal and direct impact - as illustrated by Freddie and his friends, and seven billion views on videos with the hashtag #cologne.

As for the scents to know, shared Freddie, Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille and F***ing Fabulous are up there, in addition to Comme des Garçons’ Amazingreen and Concrete EDPs, Diptyque Orphéon EDP and Maison Margiela’s Jazz Club EDT. A quick scroll through the hashtag is telling me Korres’ Black Pepper Eau de Toilette, Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Oud Satin Mood and 724 Eau de Parfums, and Diptyque Philosykos EDT are having a moment too.

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