Aramis is one of the oldest of the Estee Lauder Company’s more than twenty-five recognized brands, which also include Clinique, Bobbi Brown and Donna Karan. Estee Lauder was born Josephine Esther Mentzer on January 7, 1907 in Corona, Queens. She founded the Estee Lauder cosmetics company in 1946 in New York City with her husband, Joseph Lauder. The company launched the Aramis brand in 1964 as the first line of cosmetics products designed specifically for men. The line included shaving gels, skin care products and especially scents. In the following decades, Estee Lauder has grown into a multi-billion dollar cosmetics empire and Aramis has become one of its most powerful child companies. Despite its initial position as a forerunner of men’s cosmetics, the brand has spent much of its existence working to come up with creative strategies for combating its ever-increasing competition from names like Calvin Klein and L’Oreal.
The original Aramis men’s fragrance, launched simultaneously with the brand name, was an earthy mixture of spice, sandalwood, leather, moss and clover. A high-end fragrance, it was marketed to a mature and wealthy audience, as were Aramis 900, launched in 1973, Aramis Devin of 1978 and JHL, launched in the early 80s. An important shift in branding was made by Aramis president Byron Donics in the mid-80s with the launch of New West, a brisk, ocean-inspired line of products aimed at a younger audience. Donics hoped that the new line would help combat Aramis’ losses to the youthful sex appeal of lines like Calvin Klein’s Obsession and L’Oreal’s Drakkar Noir. Although the line was successful, it failed to regain Aramis’ previous status at the forefront of men’s fragrance. Aramis continued to turn out new lines over the next few years, including Tuscany in 1985 and the Cuban-inspired Havana in 1994. The company received a significant boost to its fragrance sales when it licensed a fragrance in 1995 for designer Tommy Hilfiger. The fragrance, called Tommy, garnered five FIFI (Fragrance Foundation) awards and was the best-selling men’s fragrance that year. Since then, Aramis has continued to make a profit off the Hilfiger name with Tommy-Girl and Freedom in 1999. It has also continued turn out its own new lines, including Aramis Cool, Aramis Gold, and Happy for Men (a partner to sister company Clinique’s Happy for women). In 2003 Aramis Life was launched with a 32-page booklet called “The Meaning of Life,” created by Maxim and distributed with the magazine, and in 2006 Aramis Always was promoted by tennis superstar Andre Agassi.
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