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Niche Fragrance Brand Stores in Korea 1/2

[2023.10.20 Peachi Design Diary]

Exprive is delighted to welcome Peachi Design Diary (桃气设计日记), whose primary focus is unveiling hidden treasures within the beauty landscape. With their keen eye for cosmetics and fashion brands, Peachi Design Diary provides a fresh perspective on the global beauty scene.

A Guide to Must-Visit Niche Fragrance Brand Stores in Korea! (PDD90 Part 1)

These past three years have seen significant changes in our lives due to the pandemic. The sense of ritual has become an indispensable part of balancing our physical and mental well-being. Friends who are fans of Korean culture may easily notice that Korean dramas often feature various items related to fragrances, such as scented candles, clothing fragrance sprays, and various diffusers. Actors and idols also frequently like to introduce the perfumes they use. Many Korean fragrance lifestyle brands, starting with scents, blend Korean aesthetics, each conveying their own stories and philosophies, yet coincidentally create an ideal daily life that is loved by local consumers 😍.

In recent years, Korea has seen numerous emerging niche fragrance brands sprout up like mushrooms. As a fragrance enthusiast, I discover new options every once in a while. Not only do these niche fragrance brands offer a wider range of special scents, but they also exhibit unique designs. The Korean fragrance market is not to be underestimated 🤔.

With the easing of the pandemic and the opening of borders in various countries, we can finally look forward to traveling abroad once again ✈️. So, I thought, why not create a guide to lesser-known, high-quality fragrance brands? When you travel to Korea, consider visiting a few fragrance stores for some exploration and photo opportunities! Feel free to collect and share your experiences 🤗.

So, let's take a look at some of the Korean niche fragrance brands that have been worth paying attention to in recent years."


Grandhand / Exprive

The handcrafted perfume brand "GRANHAND" is a combination of the words "Ground" and "Hand," symbolizing natural and entirely handcrafted production. The product packaging uses hemp fabric labels, presenting a simple yet impressive appearance. I began to follow this niche brand back in the early days of my public posts in 2020, and it has since become one of the popular brands among Korean personal shoppers 👍.

Grandhand Mapo Store (麻浦店) / Exprive
Grandhand Mapo Store (麻浦店)

Compared to three years ago, "GRANHAND" has refined its product line, offering four main lines: Perfume, Home Fragrance, Body, and Natural. In addition to perfumes with hemp labels, they also offer hand creams, diffusers, fragrance pouches, scented candles, fabric sprays, and fragrance oils, among others. These fragrances are highly practical and cater to various settings.

Granhand Products / Exprive

The brand follows a primitive style close to nature, imparting a warm and gentle feeling 😌. "GRANHAND" has introduced a total of 13 fragrances, ranging from floral and fruity to woody notes, covering all bases. Using natural ingredients, they create scents with nature as the main theme. These fragrances are especially suitable for perfume enthusiasts who prefer woody or light floral scents. Among the most popular three scents are "Marine Orchid" with pear, orchid, and musk notes, "Violette" with rosemary, apple blossom, and musk notes, and "Susie Salmon" with black currant, apricot, and amber notes.

The minimalist custom packaging is well-received by consumers. In addition to the fragrance name, the classic hemp label on the bottle can be customized with names, dates, texts, and more, allowing you to create a unique fragrance 👀.

Grandhand / Exprive

Apart from distinctive bottle designs, their physical stores also have their own unique characteristics. "GRANHAND" has six physical stores in Seoul, with store designs primarily featuring a minimalist atmosphere. I particularly like the store in Bukchon 😍, which incorporates the design of traditional Korean Hanok houses, offering a traditional Korean touch. "GRANHAND" is a brand with a strong Korean identity!

Granhand Bukchon Store (北村店) / Exprive
Granhand Bukchon Store (北村店)


Tamburins / Exprive

I'm sure many of you are already familiar with the brand "Tamburins." From their past gold chain hand cream to their recent collaboration with Blackpink's Jennie, they exude a strong artistic atmosphere. The brand is a beauty line established by "IICOMBINED2," a subsidiary of Gentle Monster. It was founded in 2017 and focuses on fragrances and personal body care products. The brand's philosophy is to pursue sensual artistic aesthetics while incorporating modern beauty.

Tamburins / Exprive

Blackpink's Jennie is also a loyal user of "Tamburins." Previously, Jennie shared her evening skincare routine on her YouTube channel, recommending "Tamburins" shower gel, body lotion, and hand cream. You can often find traces of "Tamburins" on Jennie's Instagram. Last year, Jennie became the ambassador for "Tamburins' first fragrance collection, "SOLACE: A Moment of Solace."

Tamburins Blooming Candle & Perfume Shell X / Exprive
Tamburins Blooming Candle & Perfume Shell X

The first point is, of course, the brand's precise market positioning and its products. In the fashion, beauty, and fragrance world, gender boundaries are gradually blurring. "Tamburins" has been targeting a "neutral" market since its inception. It has departed from the female image associated with previous beauty products and, through its simple and sleek design, has turned its products into modernist art pieces that can decorate one's living space. With its parent company, Gentle Monster's bold approach to accessory design, "Tamburins" has successfully turned "beauty products into works of art."

The second point, which fascinates me the most, is "Tamburins'" spatial aesthetics! In 2018, while in Korea, I visited "Tamburins'" flagship store in Sinchon. When you casually pass by, you won't think it's a cosmetics store. Instead, you might mistake it for a high-end art gallery. I had never encountered a cosmetics brand that created such a brand style at the time. "Tamburins" designs its store environment as an art space, changing artwork with the seasons and making the display of each product a visual piece of art.

Tamburins Sinsa Flagship Store (新沙旗舰店) / Exprive
Tamburins Sinsa Flagship Store (新沙旗舰店)

If we trace back, "Tamburins'" spatial aesthetics are in line with Gentle Monster's. The Gentle Monster brand is committed to "innovative high-end experiments," with bold and avant-garde designs that are highly distinctive. Its sunglasses have become a favorite among fashion enthusiasts. The stores also have their unique themes, adding art installations, visuals, and more to the interior design, perfectly combining art and commerce to create a charming retail experience.

Tamburins Dosan Store (岛山店) / Exprive
Tamburins Dosan Store (岛山店)

Tamburins' design team's Lee Jung-yeon once stated, "We want to break free from the fixed framework of cosmetics and hope to present the beauty that the brand pursues to everyone through various artistic means." Therefore, Tamburins has cleverly integrated products into art installations, abandoning the typical display methods. As you can see, the store space is filled with contemporary art pieces, creating an atmosphere reminiscent of an art gallery.

Tamburins Samcheong Flagship Store (三清旗舰店) / Exprive
Tamburins Samcheong Flagship Store (三清旗舰店)

Although "Tamburins" is also available in many department stores and concept shops, I recommend visiting their three offline stores in Seoul. They exhibit the brand's unique sense of beauty with different display styles and occasionally hold various exhibitions. 😉


Nonfiction / Exprive

"Nonfiction" is one of the hot and lesser-known fragrance brands in South Korea in recent years. Founded by Che Hee-yeong, who previously worked in the creative fashion field, and actor Yoo Yeon-seok, this brand started to make a name for itself in the world of fashion and cultural arts. In November 2019, they introduced their lifestyle fragrance brand, "Nonfiction."

Nonfiction / Exprive

The founder of the brand mentioned that even during a bath 🛀, she wants to put her phone away and disconnect from the outside world to fully relax. Sometimes, even after finishing a bath, she feels that the time of intense focus is too brief and wishes to continue with the water running, helping herself make the most of those moments that belong only to her. This is how "Nonfiction" came to be. The scent at that time represents the secret inner memories known only to her and that specific moment.

Nonfiction / Exprive

If "Fiction" signifies fiction and imagination, then "Nonfiction" implies the concept of "memories, things that are not fictional." It refers to the "real me," unadorned by the outside world, seeking answers in the most secretive moments of everyday life. This is the philosophical essence of the brand 😳.

A name like "Nonfiction," which doesn't have strong associative attributes, is more suitable for consumers to impart their own meaning. The same goes for the design. While strong colors and unique, highly individualistic designs may catch the consumer's eye in an instant, it can be challenging to allow consumers to attribute their own meaning to them.

Compared to perfume brands with bold and distinctive bottle designs, "Nonfiction" has its own unique design language 👏. They follow a three-dimensional design system composed of circles, semi-circles, and squares based on the type of fragrance.

Nonfiction / Exprive

To be continued in PDD90 Part 2.


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