Questionable Ethics of Clone Houses

JonoBorneo

Basenotes Junkie
Jan 30, 2019
I wanted to raise a general question to you all:

What do you think of clone houses?

Personally, I think of them as the most disgusting facet of this industry. IMO, they take advantage of others’ artwork, as well as fragrance “newbies”.

Full disclosure:

Recently, on Facebook, I brought to light some of the glaring ethical concerns I had with a particular house, and the owner convinced the mods of FB Marketplace that my comments were defamatory, when, in my view, all I did was point out the misleading actions of said owner.

In that light, I think it’s best here to avoid naming any clone houses by name, but still..I’m curious what you all think.
 

slpfrsly

Physician, heal thyself
Basenotes Plus
Apr 1, 2019
In that light, I think it’s best here to avoid naming any clone houses by name, but still..I’m curious what you all think.
I don't think it's particularly questionable, the out and out clone companies that make no attempt to hide their business strategy and make uncanny-yet-still-somehow-shit imitations of the real fragrance are parasites. I'm not sure much else needs saying, really. There are many admirable ways to take inspiration or show reverence to existing fragrances, some of which end up smelling very similar to the original scent. But the sort of clone company you're talking about is not this. They're just parasites.

Also, 'house' really isn't appropriate. The term relates to a literal house of design, and although it's perhaps natural that we extend the term and apply it to niche perfumers as well as designer companies, a clone company is in no way deserving of the title.
 

Grungevig

Basenotes Dependent
Jul 12, 2011
I wanted to raise a general question to you all:

What do you think of clone houses?

Personally, I think of them as the most disgusting facet of this industry. IMO, they take advantage of others’ artwork, as well as fragrance “newbies”.

Full disclosure:

Recently, on Facebook, I brought to light some of the glaring ethical concerns I had with a particular house, and the owner convinced the mods of FB Marketplace that my comments were defamatory, when, in my view, all I did was point out the misleading actions of said owner.

In that light, I think it’s best here to avoid naming any clone houses by name, but still..I’m curious what you all think.
I've got no problem with it , much like I have no problem with generic drug manufacturers offering comparable products after patents expire. In high school, I could not have afforded Dior's Fahrenheit, but I could afford some company's "Our version of Fahrenheit" and appreciated how it smelled. Nothing wrong with that.

If a house doesn't protect its artwork, let the vultures swoop! If the vultures swoop illegally, squash the vultures!

Only fragrance "newbies" like offerings from clone houses? Experienced fragheads, to be such, must only like certain scents? Neither of these positions resonates with me.

I wonder if you're allowing the ethical concerns you have with one clone house to color your perception of all clone houses?
 

ScentSensei

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Aug 21, 2020
While I can understand where your outrage is coming from, I will provide some alternative reasoning as well. I tend to relate my love of fragrance with my love of music. And especially with certain genres, they can come across as very derivative. Many songs, especially in rock use the same chord/note/arpeggio structures with slight tweaks to avoid copyright issues. Granted they are not 'clone' songs but carry their influences right on their sleeves. That aside, for someone like myself, who loves fragrances and wants a solid collection on a more budget friendly level, certain brands have a good reputation for their creations ( I will use the letters CDNIM as code ).

Furthermore your outrage almost carries a bit of elitism and I felt a little defensive reading it as I am not a fragrance snob, nor am I a fragrance dummy either. I have some niche scents, and due to the quality and my budget I have some 'clones' of fine fragrances as well. Keep in mind that logic dictates that for the most part if $400 is affordable for the real deal most people would prefer it. However if that isn't feasible it's nice to still have a reasonable quality option at 1/7th the price. Most clone buyers are not going to fork out the big bucks for the real deal anyway.

Finally I wonder after reading your comments "I think of them as the most disgusting facet of this industry. IMO, they take advantage of others’ artwork, as well as fragrance “newbies”. Recently, on Facebook, I brought to light some of the glaring ethical concerns I had with a particular house"...
What exactly are the 'glaring ethical concerns' you felt morally required to post on social media? Beyond that your tone comes across as confrontational instead of constructive which doesn't help. I may be naive by positing this next question but are there any patents on aromachemical formulas in regards to perfume construction? Because otherwise we're talking about David Bowies' "Under Pressure" vs Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby" or Zeppelins "Stairway to Heaven" vs Spirit's "Taurus".
 

Salumbre

Super Member
Jan 26, 2022
take it up with capitalism
This, in a nutshell. Every time an original product of any kind hits the market, imitators spring like mushrooms. That's the way the market works.

No clone maker is infringing copyright or stealing business from anybody; the only difference is usually one of quality, and, also usually, a lower price. (Emphasis on "usually" in both cases; quality of clones in respect to original fragrances is a completely different conversation, and a more complex one.)

There are no "questionable ethics" anywhere; no need for grand gestures or soap boxes or SWAT raids. Tom Ford (just to use an obvious example) is not losing a minute of sleep over the innumerable clones of, say, Tobacco Vanille. (By the way, they ARE innumerable.)

You have the choice to put your money where your mouth is. If you don't like the idea of clones, don't buy them. End of story.
 

SmellSharpe

Super Member
Dec 29, 2021
The first clones I bought were based on MFK and Tom Ford fragrances. These inexpensive dupes introduced me to these two houses. I now own many bottles from each house. If it wasn’t for the clones, I doubt I would have splurged for full bottles of TF Ombre Leather, Beau de Jour, Oud Minerale, Noir Extreme or MFK BR540, Gentle Fluidity Silver, Homme a La Rose, Amyris Homme, etc.

I rarely buy clones, but they can serve their purpose and sometimes ultimately drive revenues for the real McCoy.
 
Dec 20, 2021
I see no problem with it at all. Some of the most beautiful fragrances are vastly unaccessible to the majority of people. If a company makes a "clone" that smells similar to a more expensive, exclusive scent, the folks buying it are likely consumers who couldn't afford the original to begin with, and the people who can afford the original aren't spending their money on what they consider a cheap knock-off.

Rich people still have access to the original and us poors get a similar product we can enjoy. As far as I'm considered, it's a win-win for all involved.
 

épaulement

New member
Mar 5, 2022
Ethics and the perfume industry? :ROFLMAO:

As for the topic of clone houses, they have plenty of shills and influencers cluttering up social media and I hate them for that.
 

Varanis Ridari

The Scented Devil
Basenotes Plus
Oct 17, 2012
A fragrance is only a "clone" if it sells for less money than what it imitates, or so the hypocrisy of perfume snobbery tells us.

Creed clearly has imitated designers, and sometimes using the very same perfumer to revisit their own work (Montblanc Individuel -> Creed Original Santal, both Pierre Bourdon), yet they don't get decried as clones.

I've also seen Tom Ford revisit compositions for perfumes made under his creative direction for other companies, like YSL Rive Gauche pour Homme reinterpreted as TF Fougère d'Argent.

Sometimes he outright riffs on classics he wish were his, like Halston Z-14 or Caron pour un Homme (TF Italian Cypress and Lavender Extrême respectively), but not called clones because once again, they're all upmarket.

So again, it all depends on which foot the shoe is on. If you're making a downmarket version, it's a "filthy mudblood clone"; but if you're taking the idea upmarket, it's a "superior niche version" of something.

Plus all this ignores the fact most commercial perfumes at any price point are barely at all artistic endeavors anymore, and are usually more akin to marketing exercises with an "X factor" to make them stand out in a crowded field.

Anything remotely close to wearable art without a pragmatic function (e.g. compliments/curb appeal) is coming from independent niche or artisanal brands, and nobody is going to try copying them for that reason.

Hubris.
 

Proust_Madeleine

Basenotes Dependent
Apr 5, 2019
A fragrance is only a "clone" if it sells for less money than what it imitates, or so the hypocrisy of perfume snobbery tells us.

Creed clearly has imitated designers, and sometimes using the very same perfumer to revisit their own work (Montblanc Individuel -> Creed Original Santal, both Pierre Bourdon), yet they don't get decried as clones.

I've also seen Tom Ford revisit compositions for perfumes made under his creative direction for other companies, like YSL Rive Gauche pour Homme reinterpreted as TF Fougère d'Argent.

Sometimes he outright riffs on classics he wish were his, like Halston Z-14 or Caron pour un Homme (TF Italian Cypress and Lavender Extrême respectively), but not called clones because once again, they're all upmarket.

So again, it all depends on which foot the shoe is on. If you're making a downmarket version, it's a "filthy mudblood clone"; but if you're taking the idea upmarket, it's a "superior niche version" of something.

Plus all this ignores the fact most commercial perfumes at any price point are barely at all artistic endeavors anymore, and are usually more akin to marketing exercises with an "X factor" to make them stand out in a crowded field.

Anything remotely close to wearable art without a pragmatic function (e.g. compliments/curb appeal) is coming from independent niche or artisanal brands, and nobody is going to try copying them for that reason.

Hubris.
Clone houses are doing niche houses now. Bogue and Areej le Dore so far.

Also fwiw a perfumer riffing or reiterating their own formula isn’t the same as someone stealing their work, right? Maybe lazy? And I think some people do have ethical problems with passing the same work off to several clients. Certainly perfumers have issues with the idea that fragrance formulas can’t be copyright protected.

For other perfumers: Even building on someone’s work and adding a twist seems more ethical than copying a formula and marketing it as identical to the thing being copied. Paying homage to a classic that’s been popular for 100 years or something that’s been out of print for a while even seems a bit less murky than picking a popular perfume and counterfeiting it.

I’m not saying that perfume ethics are good and clone houses are bad. It seems to me that the whole business model is anti-artist, bureaucratically corrupt and greedy. But that doesn’t make clone houses suddenly ethical, right?

I don’t know. Seems like small perfumers will take the brunt of the hit, when their work gets co-opted.
 
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JonoBorneo

Basenotes Junkie
Jan 30, 2019
I’m in @Proust_Madeleine ’s camp here. I grew up studying the arts, was raised by a bunch of musicians, and hold a BA in theatre and art history, so watching the way clone companies operate is just painful for me.

To be clear, I’m not arguing that all fragrances should cost hundreds of dollars. In fact, I find it wonderful that there are affordable, great smelling options out there…but there’s a huge difference between success through affordability, and success by means of ripping off someone else’s artistic vision.

Comme Des Garçons comes to mind as an affordable, wonderful house. I believe one can purchase a 50ml of wonderwood for less than $100 bucks if you look in the right places…it’s original, unique, alluring, and it’s own thing.

Additionally, there are some fragrances out there priced upwards of $300 not due to elitism, or exclusivity, but due to scarcity of raw materials, as well as labor intensive procedures to put said materials into a bottle of perfume. When clone companies attempt to “clone” these fragrances, not only do the rip off a perfumer’s art, but they also spit in the face of the labor required to produce the real thing.
 

slpfrsly

Physician, heal thyself
Basenotes Plus
Apr 1, 2019
What is 'ethical cloning' as opposed to non-ethical cloning?

The arguments defending cloning are absurd. Just one example: the idea that it's fine to clone a big multinational-owned perfume company has more than a whiff of "let them burn it down, it's insured". Where's the ethical distinction? And how does this pseudo-ethical claim differ from "whatever I think benefits me as a consumer is good and therefore acceptable"? Perfume is not art, and in my experience it seems most people (particularly those prone to justifying the status quo) are interested in the commerce and consumption of products and not perfume itself. It's not hard to see how clone companies can contribute to the decline perfumery by ramping up their production, which incentivises the multinationals to pursue legislation that would lead to some sort of copyright over formulas themselves - the knock-on effect of which would ruin genuine tributes or inspirations to an existing fragrance as it means its producer/perfumer could face legal penalties for re-using a certain proportion of an existing formula. Even more than that, though, this is just obvious. I question anyone who doesn't have a gut instinct for this sort of thing. Parasitic behaviour has got nothing to do with capitalism.
 

Teodor

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Mar 31, 2022
I recommend the book by Jean Baudrillard (French sociologist, philosopher and cultural theorist) Simulacra and Simulation.
I think you will find a fairly clear answer in the book.
 

slpfrsly

Physician, heal thyself
Basenotes Plus
Apr 1, 2019
I recommend the book by Jean Baudrillard (French sociologist, philosopher and cultural theorist) Simulacra and Simulation.
I think you will find a fairly clear answer in the book.
Haha, yes, the simulation obscures the fact that nothing is real...a philosophy for men who've never been in a fight. ;)
 

Proust_Madeleine

Basenotes Dependent
Apr 5, 2019
What is 'ethical cloning' as opposed to non-ethical cloning?

The arguments defending cloning are absurd. Just one example: the idea that it's fine to clone a big multinational-owned perfume company has more than a whiff of "let them burn it down, it's insured". Where's the ethical distinction? And how does this pseudo-ethical claim differ from "whatever I think benefits me as a consumer is good and therefore acceptable"? Perfume is not art, and in my experience it seems most people (particularly those prone to justifying the status quo) are interested in the commerce and consumption of products and not perfume itself. It's not hard to see how clone companies can contribute to the decline perfumery by ramping up their production, which incentivises the multinationals to pursue legislation that would lead to some sort of copyright over formulas themselves - the knock-on effect of which would ruin genuine tributes or inspirations to an existing fragrance as it means its producer/perfumer could face legal penalties for re-using a certain proportion of an existing formula. Even more than that, though, this is just obvious. I question anyone who doesn't have a gut instinct for this sort of thing. Parasitic behaviour has got nothing to do with capitalism.
I may still disagree with some of your treatise on perfume NOT being art(though I understand 100% why you’d frame it that way— so it may be a matter of a distinction without a difference, in this case), but I think you make a powerful point about this subject.
 

slpfrsly

Physician, heal thyself
Basenotes Plus
Apr 1, 2019
We live in the postmodern era. Everything is just a social construct .... tralalala 😇
Nothing is real to the man who never owned vintage Aventus but has 30 different Aventus clones...

Really? Which clone houses have attempted that?
 

JonoBorneo

Basenotes Junkie
Jan 30, 2019
The house in question also mislead their fans by stating Slumberhouse stopped creating scents in order to generate sales on their own “clones”, only to be forced to walk back the lies when called out.

Slime-scum move imo.
 

Brooks Otterlake

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 12, 2019
We've collectively agreed as a society that legally protecting some forms of authorship is good (whether it's art or scientific innovation). This is a pragmatic consideration more than anything. This protection exists to incentivize innovation. If you can do something creative, you're entitled to exclusively profit from it, but this entitlement exists only for a time.

The fact that we limit it speaks to the broader truth that society benefits when ideas are shared, when that creativity is fed back into a cultural commons. Culture thrives on imitation and variation. A new idea quickly becomes an old one, supporting the next set of new ideas. Many a great artist (and many a great perfumer) built their work off of the works of others.

Even the intent to "copy" one thing, without intentional innovation, may ultimately result in a refinement of the original idea. At any rate, to imitate a master painter is not necessarily to create a forgery; it may be just to master the technique. Every copy, in the end, is unique.

What seems to rankle folks about clones is less the idea of imitation itself and more the "imposter" baggage (the perception of people "cheating" their way into an experience, like buying a fake Louis Vuitton bag) which has more to do with cultural mores than foundational ethics, to the extent we can separate them. As far as I can tell, the underlying idea of "intellectual property" is less of an ethical consideration than it is an economic one. It's perfectly easy to imagine ethical societies where "intellectual property" is a functionally meaningless concept. Indeed, it's a concept many ancient societies wouldn't have recognized at all.

Clone houses have low-minded motives (they're not in it for the "art"), but what is mostly distasteful to me about clones is that they are often examples of very bad perfume that are not worth the asking price: patchwork, thoughtless imitations. But, on occasion, a clone house produces something that's a good, complete expression of an idea, regardless of the motives and circumstances that gave birth to it.
 
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Teodor

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Mar 31, 2022
We've collectively agreed as a society that legally protecting some forms of authorship is good (whether it's art or scientific innovation). This is a pragmatic consideration more than anything. This protection exists to incentivize innovation. If you can do something creative, you're entitled to exclusively profit from it, but this entitlement exists only for a time.

The fact that we limit it speaks to the broader truth that society benefits when ideas are shared, when that creativity is fed back into a cultural commons. Culture thrives on imitation and variation. A new idea quickly becomes an old one, supporting the next set of new ideas. Many a great artist (and many a great perfumer) built their work off of the works of others.

But even the intent to "copy" one thing, without intentional innovation, may ultimately result in a refinement of it. At any rate, to imitate a master painter is not necessarily to create a forgery; it may be just to master the technique. Every copy, in the end, is unique.

What seems to rankle folks about clones is less the idea of imitation itself and more the "imposter" component of it (the perception of people "cheating" their way into an experience, like buying a fake Louis Vuitton bag) which has more to do with cultural mores than foundational ethics, to the extent we can separate them. As far as I can tell, the underlying idea of "intellectual property" is less of an ethical consideration than it is an economic one. It's perfectly easy to imagine ethical societies where "intellectual property" is a functionally meaningless concept. Indeed, it's a concept many ancient societies wouldn't have recognized at all.

Clone houses have low-minded motives (they're not in it for the "art"), but what is mostly distasteful to me about clones is that they are often examples of very bad perfume that are not worth the asking price: patchwork, thoughtless imitations. But, on occasion, a clone house produces something that's a good, complete expression of an idea, regardless of the motives and circumstances that gave birth to it.
Excellently written 👍
 

Salumbre

Super Member
Jan 26, 2022
We've collectively agreed as a society that legally protecting some forms of authorship is good (whether it's art or scientific innovation). This is a pragmatic consideration more than anything. This protection exists to incentivize innovation. If you can do something creative, you're entitled to exclusively profit from it, but this entitlement exists only for a time.

The fact that we limit it speaks to the broader truth that society benefits when ideas are shared, when that creativity is fed back into a cultural commons. Culture thrives on imitation and variation. A new idea quickly becomes an old one, supporting the next set of new ideas. Many a great artist (and many a great perfumer) built their work off of the works of others.

But even the intent to "copy" one thing, without intentional innovation, may ultimately result in a refinement of it. At any rate, to imitate a master painter is not necessarily to create a forgery; it may be just to master the technique. Every copy, in the end, is unique.

What seems to rankle folks about clones is less the idea of imitation itself and more the "imposter" component of it (the perception of people "cheating" their way into an experience, like buying a fake Louis Vuitton bag) which has more to do with cultural mores than foundational ethics, to the extent we can separate them. As far as I can tell, the underlying idea of "intellectual property" is less of an ethical consideration than it is an economic one. It's perfectly easy to imagine ethical societies where "intellectual property" is a functionally meaningless concept. Indeed, it's a concept many ancient societies wouldn't have recognized at all.

Clone houses have low-minded motives (they're not in it for the "art"), but what is mostly distasteful to me about clones is that they are often examples of very bad perfume that are not worth the asking price: patchwork, thoughtless imitations. But, on occasion, a clone house produces something that's a good, complete expression of an idea, regardless of the motives and circumstances that gave birth to it.

Eloquently put. Shakespeare was accused in his time of being an "upstart crow" who "beautified" himself with feathers borrowed from his betters...
 

Varanis Ridari

The Scented Devil
Basenotes Plus
Oct 17, 2012
Clone houses are doing niche houses now. Bogue and Areej le Dore so far.

Also fwiw a perfumer riffing or reiterating their own formula isn’t the same as someone stealing their work, right? Maybe lazy? And I think some people do have ethical problems with passing the same work off to several clients. Certainly perfumers have issues with the idea that fragrance formulas can’t be copyright protected.

For other perfumers: Even building on someone’s work and adding a twist seems more ethical than copying a formula and marketing it as identical to the thing being copied. Paying homage to a classic that’s been popular for 100 years or something that’s been out of print for a while even seems a bit less murky than picking a popular perfume and counterfeiting it.

I’m not saying that perfume ethics are good and clone houses are bad. It seems to me that the whole business model is anti-artist, bureaucratically corrupt and greedy. But that doesn’t make clone houses suddenly ethical, right?

I don’t know. Seems like small perfumers will take the brunt of the hit, when their work gets co-opted.
I think we agree more than disagree. The perfume industry, which is mostly an extension of beauty and fashion these days, is shrouded in the same cynicism and "let them eat cake" elitism as the latter two. Perfumers with creative and artistic goals have always been put under the lash in this system, unless they have the capital to start their own brands. Guerlain and Caron were once independent perfumers.

Thus, the majority of these corporate brands sell us sewage water dressed up as "aqua mirabillis" and make grotesque profit margins to boot, while all the brainwashed elitists believe that because they can afford to buy that sewage water, they're better than you. Never mind the fact that it's still sewage, pretty bow on the bottle or otherwise. Cloning that stuff is just being honest about what it really is, and charging accordingly.

I feel like all the brands that intentionally insert themselves as lower-cost alternatives to X or Y are clearly low-hanging fruit in the same way generic electronics or store-brand fashion lines are (e.g. Beverly Hills Polo Club), but they are no more or less corrupt than the brands they copy. No ethical consumption under capitalism, et al. That's why I say the clone debate is hubris.

Lying about 4000 year-old perfumery techniques and being a 7th generation aristocratic perfume family, or talking about being hand-taught by Jean-Paul Guerlain and doing videos in front of a perfume organ while sneaking off and hiring Robertet perfumers, that's the same as GCMS analyzing a competitor's fragrance and cutting materials costs for a dupe which has a name alliterative to the original.

Commercial art is still art though, Andy Warhol taught us that with his soup cans and screen prints, I'm just saying that there was never any intellectual property or artistic integrity to begin with, since the perfumers don't own what they make. Same BS with graphic artists, musicians, and writers under contract.

Artists working under contract for Disney or doing game development under NDAs, often have shit deals where everything they draw for the duration of the contract regardless of who it's for, belongs to the publisher. That's part of why the furry fandom exists and so many of its artists operate under aliases. I know, been in that scene for decades. You'd be surprised who's really who under that dragon or fox visage.

Point is, it's all backstabbing from the top all the way down, which is why I don't think the clone argument holds much water. You need to fell and restructure the whole system like screen writers did in the 80's, then build it back up with protections for the perfumers.
 

imm0rtelle

Basenotes Junkie
Apr 2, 2021
If a house doesn't protect its artwork, let the vultures swoop! If the vultures swoop illegally, squash the vultures!
I would actually like a world where formulas are copyrighted. This will give consumers more information on the fragrances they like and dislike and making consumers even more informed.

Furthermore your outrage almost carries a bit of elitism and I felt a little defensive reading it as I am not a fragrance snob, nor am I a fragrance dummy either.
Although people in support of cloning can see it as elitism, what I sense, instead, is a feeling of injustice that @JonoBorneo was feeling.

Finally I wonder after reading your comments "I think of them as the most disgusting facet of this industry. IMO, they take advantage of others’ artwork, as well as fragrance “newbies”. Recently, on Facebook, I brought to light some of the glaring ethical concerns I had with a particular house"...
What exactly are the 'glaring ethical concerns' you felt morally required to post on social media?
I suspect his outrage stems partly from an insecurity of being, and emphasizing with, one of the newbies, who are being taken advantaged of by clone brands.

Beyond that your tone comes across as confrontational instead of constructive which doesn't help.
Tone policing is some SJW nonsense. However, you're correct that someone who wants to effectively get their message across should play according to the SJW rules.

I may be naive by positing this next question but are there any patents on aromachemical formulas in regards to perfume construction?
Nope. The only way big oil houses protect themselves, and the formulas of their clients, is in using captive molecules which the public has no access to.

No clone maker is infringing copyright or stealing business from anybody; the only difference is usually one of quality, and, also usually, a lower price.
I have to agree that the customers who would buy clones are not the same customers buying the real product.

There are no "questionable ethics" anywhere; no need for grand gestures or soap boxes or SWAT raids. Tom Ford (just to use an obvious example) is not losing a minute of sleep over the innumerable clones of, say, Tobacco Vanille. (By the way, they ARE innumerable.)
I have to agree that Tom Ford doesn't really care that much. I think @JonoBorneo is caring more about uninformed consumers being scammed, rather than the big corporations.

The first clones I bought were based on MFK and Tom Ford fragrances. These inexpensive dupes introduced me to these two houses. I now own many bottles from each house. If it wasn’t for the clones, I doubt I would have splurged for full bottles of TF Ombre Leather, Beau de Jour, Oud Minerale, Noir Extreme or MFK BR540, Gentle Fluidity Silver, Homme a La Rose, Amyris Homme, etc.

I rarely buy clones, but they can serve their purpose and sometimes ultimately drive revenues for the real McCoy.
People who will buy the legitimate product will end up buying it anyways, even if clones exist. People who will never buy the legitimate product, won't buy it even if clones do not exist.

As with generic pharmaceuticals, toiletries and cosmetics, I see no problem with cloning fragrances as long as companies do it ethically. I believe in capitalism and customer choice. Personally however, I've no interest in exploring or purchasing fragrance clones.
Perhaps having a model where fragrances are protected for a certain period of time, might be helpful.

I see no problem with it at all. Some of the most beautiful fragrances are vastly unaccessible to the majority of people. If a company makes a "clone" that smells similar to a more expensive, exclusive scent, the folks buying it are likely consumers who couldn't afford the original to begin with, and the people who can afford the original aren't spending their money on what they consider a cheap knock-off.

Rich people still have access to the original and us poors get a similar product we can enjoy. As far as I'm considered, it's a win-win for all involved.
The consumers who buy clones are not likely to be buying the legitimate product even if the clone doesn't exist. I almost see the consumers of both the clones and the legitimate products as being mutually exclusive, generally speaking. I do think it is a win-win for all involved.

I've also seen Tom Ford revisit compositions for perfumes made under his creative direction for other companies, like YSL Rive Gauche pour Homme reinterpreted as TF Fougère d'Argent.
I feel like a creative director pretty much owns their fragrances. Although I'm not into Tom Ford's aesthetic, I 100% believe that he's a strong creative director who closely works with the perfumers for his fragrances. I see zero issue with him taking one of his earlier creations for YSL and putting it into his own brand.

Sometimes he outright riffs on classics he wish were his, like Halston Z-14 or Caron pour un Homme (TF Italian Cypress and Lavender Extrême respectively), but not called clones because once again, they're all upmarket.
I do think if there are enough differences between the fragrance and its source material, it should no longer be called a clone. Byredo's De Los Santos reminds me a lot of Le Labo's Thé Noir 29, but I don't consider De Los Santos a clone of Thé Noir 29. There are enough significant differences that I feel like De Los Santos is its own thing. I actually prefer De Los Santos over Thé Noir 29.

My only exception is with counterfeit fragrances.

Also fwiw a perfumer riffing or reiterating their own formula isn’t the same as someone stealing their work, right? Maybe lazy?
100% agree.

And I think some people do have ethical problems with passing the same work off to several clients.
I think the clients are usually the ones to request it. They see something as successful, and want the same perfumer to give them something similar.

Certainly perfumers have issues with the idea that fragrance formulas can’t be copyright protected.
Christophe Laudamiel is one perfumer who is a strong proponent to get fragrance formulas copyright protected.

For other perfumers: Even building on someone’s work and adding a twist seems more ethical than copying a formula and marketing it as identical to the thing being copied. Paying homage to a classic that’s been popular for 100 years or something that’s been out of print for a while even seems a bit less murky than picking a popular perfume and counterfeiting it.
100% agree.

We've collectively agreed as a society that legally protecting some forms of authorship is good (whether it's art or scientific innovation). This is a pragmatic consideration more than anything. This protection exists to incentivize innovation. If you can do something creative, you're entitled to exclusively profit from it, but this entitlement exists only for a time.
I disagree since there is no good enough justification for society to copy another fragrance 1:1, unlike a generic pharmaceutical product. I have less issues if they choose to make tweaks to an already existing idea than doing a 1:1 copy.

The fact that we limit it speaks to the broader truth that society benefits when ideas are shared, when that creativity is fed back into a cultural commons. Culture thrives on imitation and variation. A new idea quickly becomes an old one, supporting the next set of new ideas. Many a great artist (and many a great perfumer) built their work off of the works of others.

Even the intent to "copy" one thing, without intentional innovation, may ultimately result in a refinement of the original idea. At any rate, to imitate a master painter is not necessarily to create a forgery; it may be just to master the technique. Every copy, in the end, is unique.
This is why on a practical level, I have no issues with clone brands. They will never create a 1:1 product no matter how hard they try. It just doesn't make sense for their business model. Therefore, they will never take away business from customers who want the real deal.

Although I feel like Byredo's De Los Santos is very very heavily inspired by Le Labo's Thé Noir 29 (I wouldn't call it a clone, rather they are both dealing with a very very similar theme), I actually find Byredo's version to be more urban, refined and elegant. Personally, I would prefer if Byredo's version was significantly less expensive, so I can save money, but I try to not let price influence my judgement of fragrances. I don't think I would think worse of Byredo's fragrance if they charged pennies compared to Le Labo. It just feels superior, and how it is priced won't change that for me.
 

Salumbre

Super Member
Jan 26, 2022
I would actually like a world where formulas are copyrighted. This will give consumers more information on the fragrances they like and dislike and making consumers even more informed.


Although people in support of cloning can see it as elitism, what I sense, instead, is a feeling of injustice that @JonoBorneo was feeling.


I suspect his outrage stems partly from an insecurity of being, and emphasizing with, one of the newbies, who are being taken advantaged of by clone brands.


Tone policing is some SJW nonsense. However, you're correct that someone who wants to effectively get their message across should play according to the SJW rules.


Nope. The only way big oil houses protect themselves, and the formulas of their clients, is in using captive molecules which the public has no access to.


I have to agree that the customers who would buy clones are not the same customers buying the real product.


I have to agree that Tom Ford doesn't really care that much. I think @JonoBorneo is caring more about uninformed consumers being scammed, rather than the big corporations.


People who will buy the legitimate product will end up buying it anyways, even if clones exist. People who will never buy the legitimate product, won't buy it even if clones do not exist.


Perhaps having a model where fragrances are protected for a certain period of time, might be helpful.


The consumers who buy clones are not likely to be buying the legitimate product even if the clone doesn't exist. I almost see the consumers of both the clones and the legitimate products as being mutually exclusive, generally speaking. I do think it is a win-win for all involved.


I feel like a creative director pretty much owns their fragrances. Although I'm not into Tom Ford's aesthetic, I 100% believe that he's a strong creative director who closely works with the perfumers for his fragrances. I see zero issue with him taking one of his earlier creations for YSL and putting it into his own brand.


I do think if there are enough differences between the fragrance and its source material, it should no longer be called a clone. Byredo's De Los Santos reminds me a lot of Le Labo's Thé Noir 29, but I don't consider De Los Santos a clone of Thé Noir 29. There are enough significant differences that I feel like De Los Santos is its own thing. I actually prefer De Los Santos over Thé Noir 29.

My only exception is with counterfeit fragrances.


100% agree.


I think the clients are usually the ones to request it. They see something as successful, and want the same perfumer to give them something similar.


Christophe Laudamiel is one perfumer who is a strong proponent to get fragrance formulas copyright protected.


100% agree.


I disagree since there is no good enough justification for society to copy another fragrance 1:1, unlike a generic pharmaceutical product. I have less issues if they choose to make tweaks to an already existing idea than doing a 1:1 copy.


This is why on a practical level, I have no issues with clone brands. They will never create a 1:1 product no matter how hard they try. It just doesn't make sense for their business model. Therefore, they will never take away business from customers who want the real deal.

Although I feel like Byredo's De Los Santos is very very heavily inspired by Le Labo's Thé Noir 29 (I wouldn't call it a clone, rather they are both dealing with a very very similar theme), I actually find Byredo's version to be more urban, refined and elegant. Personally, I would prefer if Byredo's version was significantly less expensive, so I can save money, but I try to not let price influence my judgement of fragrances. I don't think I would think worse of Byredo's fragrance if they charged pennies compared to Le Labo. It just feels superior, and how it is priced won't change that for me.
I must say, were this post dripping with any more condescension, it would be liquid.
 

Bugman

New member
Mar 13, 2022
I see no problem with it at all. Some of the most beautiful fragrances are vastly unaccessible to the majority of people. If a company makes a "clone" that smells similar to a more expensive, exclusive scent, the folks buying it are likely consumers who couldn't afford the original to begin with, and the people who can afford the original aren't spending their money on what they consider a cheap knock-off.

Rich people still have access to the original and us poors get a similar product we can enjoy. As far as I'm considered, it's a win-win for all involved.
I see this in local bars and pubs. Some places serve the same alcohols at a high price to keep the riff-raff out.
 

FragSyndrome

Basenotes Dependent
Sep 14, 2016
one issue that I have is with brands like Creed selling $5 of chemical water for $450. Then clone houses come along and offer an extremely similar bottle of chemical water for $30. So maybe one of the issues here that popularized these clones is the greed of these companies to charge such an outrageous price for a few dollars of chemical water. If these companies charged reasonable prices then perhaps clone houses wouldn’t have much of a footing to stand on.
 

JonoBorneo

Basenotes Junkie
Jan 30, 2019
I see no problem with it at all. Some of the most beautiful fragrances are vastly unaccessible to the majority of people. If a company makes a "clone" that smells similar to a more expensive, exclusive scent, the folks buying it are likely consumers who couldn't afford the original to begin with, and the people who can afford the original aren't spending their money on what they consider a cheap knock-off.

Rich people still have access to the original and us poors get a similar product we can enjoy. As far as I'm considered, it's a win-win for all involved.
There are plenty of ways to affordably participate in this whole hobby, decants, samples, beautiful frags that don’t cost an arm and a leg, ect..

The problem with your judgement is as follows: think about all of the small businesses who’s fragrances end up “cloned”. The artist and small business owner lose out on potential sales, while the clone “house” reaps the benefits without actually contributing anything creative or artistic into the world.

Additionally, someone may smell a horrible clone of something, and think poorly of the real fragrance when in reality they shouldn’t.
 

Brooks Otterlake

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 12, 2019
The problem with your judgement is as follows: think about all of the small businesses who’s fragrances end up “cloned”.
Realistically speaking, I don't think this happens all that much. We still don't have a real clone of L'Air du Desert Marocain, despite its popularity.

That's not a justification, by the way. Just an observation.
 

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