Sephora Breaks Into Non-Binary Fragrances with Phluid Project Collab

by Matthew Wexler

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday August 9, 2021
Originally published on August 6, 2021

Beauty behemoth Sephora hopes to tap into a more inclusive approach to the fragrance industry through a new collaboration with The Phluid Project. The new collection "empowers you to smell the way you feel — like you."

But shoppers won't be stepping into a free-flowing gender and sexuality continuum any time soon at any of Sephora's more than 700 U.S. stores. The five-scent collection is only available online. Phluid's call-to-action names shoot for the stars, but what's in the bottle (referred to as an "elixir" on the brand's website) draws from the familiar fragrance library but perhaps combined in a new, innovative way. The line-up includes:

Transcend — "Both comforting and captivating, its personality defies definition: on top, sunny, playful pink dragonfruit and pineapple leaf mingle with elegant sea-salted tiare flowers; glowing within, vanilla orchid and mild palo santo wood have a deep, knowing warmth."

Humanity — "Meditative and lingering, the scent blurs the lines between inner and outer beauty. Ginger root and coconut nourish you from within, as sublime jasmine and iris clarify the mind. Olibanum smoke and sandalwood add a weightless equilibrium."

Integrity — "It's a timeless tension between dark and light: dusky and dignified notes collide with the carefree and bright. Oud's deep mystery meets clearwood's translucence. A combustion of influences, powerfully resolved."

Balance — "The brilliant clarity of iced grapefruit is the perfect counter-note to calming clary sage and cardamom. Grounded by vetiver and atlas cedar, it becomes both bewitching and peaceful."

Intention — "Above, the green of young rosebuds mingles with spicy pink pepper and glossy-sweet cherry. Below, musky cedarwood wears a suede-like accord of saffron and tonka bean. Both masculine and feminine, the scent lets you find your own identity, somewhere in between."

[READ MORE: Adam Driver Morphs Into Centaur in Thirst-Trapping Burberry Fragrance Ad]

The Phluid-Sephora partnership isn't the first time consumers have seen fragrance brands tapping into an emerging market. EDGE reported earlier this year about the trend.

"It was our mission to create a brand for those who loved fragrance but felt excluded from traditional fragrance," Snif co-founder Phil Riportella (he/him) told EDGE. "It's less about 'de-gendering' the actual ingredients that make up a fragrance and more about throwing away the rules of conventional fragrance that tell us what we should and should not be wearing." Much like The Phluid Project, this is exemplified in the fragrances' branding — not only in the scents' gender-less names, but also in their descriptors.

But to assume that all LGBTQ+ consumers seek similarly marketed scents may be off the mark. For example, transgender performance artist Daphne Overbeck (she/her) told EDGE, "When I think about transness — when you decide to present externally as trans or non-binary — there is this kind of paradox that I arrive at: Well, I don't need anybody else to affirm my gender, and yet here I am performing my gender externally, and that is absolutely for me, but I also feel good when other people affirm my gender.

"Fragrance can be another marker of gender for people... [but] it doesn't always have to be."


Additional contribution by Billy McEntee

Matthew Wexler is EDGE's Senior Editor, Features & Branded Content. More of his writing can be found at Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @wexlerwrites.