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Is Product Parody Good for the Wet Shaving Industry?

In the last few months, we’ve seen a rise of wet shaving related products that basically parody products that have already been released in one way or another.  This trend may not have started by How to Grow a Moustache but he was definitely the most outrageous and brash.  He began with Barbasoul, which had a similar scent to Barbasol, who promptly a Cease and Desist letter. He then revamped the line and snarkily named it CaD for “Cease and Desist.”  The Wet Shaving Community rallied around him like they would rally around anyone they felt were “done wrong.”  This product became very popular with Wet Shavers and still is to this day.

Since then, we’ve seen Douglas revamp his brand into Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements, where he has released many Limited Runs of what I would call Parody Products – much like the Wacky Packages stickers we used to collect as children. I would compare this to being the Mad Magazine of the industry, a company that in turn takes a traditional hobby into something much different.  It turns it into a joke.

We’ve seen this before in Basic Scent releases that release copies of the original scents that you can pick up for cheap at the local Dollar Tree Stores.  Last year, I took a gander at the scents there and bought a few copy scents that I still have in my Shave Den now.  Do I use them?  Not really, it was more of just a curiosity for me – Do they smell the same?  I found out they kind of did.

If we look at some of the products released in the last few months, we can rest assured each product from the mainstream will get parodied.

Examples:

HTGAM’s “Steeplechase” – Polo – the original scent.

Grand Crown King Steeplechase Sport (which had been released through HTGAM previously – A limited run based on Polo Sport.

TAMAC – a take on TABAC’s label, but claimed it is not a TAMAC redux. Douglas corrected me and said it’s more of a parody of the label of Tabac, not the scent.

Vloid – Based on Floid Amber, a popular Spain product.

11235 – A parody of the ever popular classic 4711.

Clubguy – A take on the drugstore brand Pinaud Clubman.

Oud Spice – Old Spice Scent.

Cold Spices – Old Spice scent with cooling properties.

Big Shave Soap (Three versions, Orange Spice, Strawberry and Coconut) – which PAA parodied Surf Culture by creating a label that one would be reminded of the popular surf wax “Sex Wax” label.

Enigma Machine – Another take on the Original Sex Wax.

Fougere Noir by Wet Shaving Products – A Take on Drakkar Noir.

Starbucks by Wet Shaving Products – Inspired by the alluring scent of Coffee.

RazoRock/PAA’s “The Beach” – Inspired by the fictional product “Beach” from Seinfeld.

Casablanca – A collaboration with The Shaving Shop – named after the famous movie Casablanca.

 

In my humble opinion, I think Douglas and Fran, Wet Shaving Products, Ginger’s Garden, Mickey Lee Soapworks and others took their spark of idea and made scents already out there just a touch improved. In each case, the product is a slight improvement over the original because of the natural ingredients as well as the additional menthol in some of them which made them much more fun to use during the summer season.

Ginger’s Garden is well known for their willingness to try to capture whatever scent you are looking for and will customize it to your liking.  Many of her stock scents include very familiar ones.  I even decided I wanted an AngelMen clone so I ordered “Angel” from them and I am wearing it today… it reminds me of when I first tried the original version at a department store in San Francisco.

Not only clone scents are being released.  I love the recent idea of creating a product based on nostalgia for a movie or even inspired by a brand.  Number 9 was one of those that had been released last year and it was an exercise on what would the scent of Gun Cleaning Fluid be like on a man’s face.  I haven’t tried it but I have sure been curious about it.  Maybe one day I’ll “pull the trigger” on it.

I don’t think that it harms the industry, as let’s face it, there are only some scents that will appeal more to us than others (for more info on why, check out this article from Mark Herro’s Sharpologist site here.)

It may be a magnet for lawsuits however, but I don’t see a problem on PAA’s part as since it could be construed as Parody, it falls under the law as such, thus the original name of Barbasoul could probably have still gone on, but it didn’t matter at that point because it already did what it was supposed to do – Create a line that attracted the user to the product via Nostalgia of the original and perhaps attract new customers through familiarity.

I applaud all the companies for creating these new takes on old but classic scents. It shows that Wet Shaving can have whimsy & snark while at the same time be very entertaining not to mention innovation.  I remember Douglas once saying that he really wasn’t into revamping old brands at one time, but it seems like he changed his mind and we’re all the better for it.

I’d like to see more.  I can’t wait to see what is coming down the pike.  Makes me wonder what else is coming and hey, that’s also the fun of being a hobbyist and soap collector.

You never know now what is going to be developed and by who.  It sure is a great time for Artisans everywhere right now.  There is room for innovation by everyone and it’s exciting to see everyone working so hard to release quality products, whether they seem like a joke or not.

The spirit of the original products shine through and revamped for a new generation of Wet Shavers who probably would have never thought there were scents like these back in the earlier years.  It is kind of like when we listened to 50’s Rockabilly music back in the 80’s and thought – “Hey, this stuff is pretty darn cool.”  With the help of the Stray Cats and other Rockabilly bands we were then enjoying the newer take on a classic sound.  It wasn’t a negative thing… it was actually pretty awesome!

It could also be compared to say, bands doing covers of the original songs.  They are either a hit or miss and it’s really up for interpretation as well as public opinion on what could be better than the other.

I think there is a fine line – Are the newer products better than the originals?  Well, it depends on what you’re looking for in the first place.  If you’re looking for the classic scent, to go with the originals.  Pinaud finally came out with a line of products that are of similar scent profiles to the popular Clubman scent only after PAA released Clubguy.  Without PAA, perhaps they would have never pressed to release these products, who knows?

So, all you Artisans out there… What’s next?  We all can’t wait to see what you’re going to come out with this Summer!

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Matt Gray @mkgray69 can be reached at WetShavingTimes@gmail.com

The opinions within this blog are solely of my own and if you don’t like it you are free to not only express your own opinions, you can develop your own blog and create something you will enjoy or you can comment below.  I always appreciate the general “Hey man, you’ve got a point there,” as well.  Thank you for your support.

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2 Comments

  1. douglas smythe says:

    Just some clarification:

    HTGAM’s “Green label” – Polo —-This was actually called Steeplechase and then there was Steeplechase Sport

    Grand Crown King Steeplechase ——- This is Called Steeplechase Sport by Crown King, the label is no longer a parody but is connected to the Harvest Moon Trilogy

    TAMAC – —-Only the label is a parody, the scent is Tobacco and Tomato Plant. The scent is displayed on the label. It was not only a parody of TABAC but also an homage to the Simpson’s TAMACCO episode.

    Vloid – —-An homage to Floid Amber; Doug dressed as Viking on label

    11235 – ——-Actually a homage to 4711

    Clubguy – A take on the drugstore brand Pinaud Clubman.

    Oud Spice ———-This is actually Oud and Old Spice, not really a parody or dupe.

    Cold Spices – Old Spice scent with cooling properties. The label is not a parody but part of the Agharta Trilogy. The boat on the label is the Endurance. It was the three-masted barquentine in which Sir Ernest Shackleton sailed for the Antarctic on the 1914 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.

    Big Shave Soap ——All 3 of the big shave west soaps (Orange spice & Oud, Strawberry & Oud & Coconut & Oud) were tributes to surf culture not dupes of sex wax really. The classic SW scents were used but then blended with Oud to give it a twist. So the label was a parody.

    Enigma Machine – Another take on the Original Sex Wax. Not a parody or dupe. Though born out of TBSW it’s label and name is part of the AGHARTA Trilogy.

    Interesting article. The line gets a little blurry between dupes and parody sometime but interesting topic none the less.
    When it comes to Dupes, out of our 60+ scents, I think 6 are actually dupes. that leaves over 50 that are original scents. They are done to be funny, as a parody, a rib; An inside joke for a community of wet shavers who should “get it”. lol, i have to be clear with this because these parodies sometimes bother a few folks who fail to see the humor and believe it to be something it’s not. Just me and my goofy; Mad Magazine, National Lampoon and AdBusters upbringing coming thru. People forget I’m a graphic artist too and this is a fun exercise, also something we all did in school…so it comes out. 🙂 Because of these misunderstandings I’m a little apprehensive about doing anymore in the future. Cest la Vie and Shave On!

    Like

  2. Much appreciated for your clarification Douglas. I did see the humor and still do. Thanks again, it’s obvious I got a few things wrong but glad to see you’re on it like syrup on flapjacks. Mmmmm flapjacks.

    Like

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