Originally created 11/06/96

Stores expect Jordan's fragrance to be a winner



As Michael Jordan Cologne makes its debut, you can bench the jokes about smelly basketball jerseys and eau de athletic shoes.

Like most other colognes, Mr. Jordan's is a scent of many layers: citrus, green tea, sandalwood, cedarwood, patchouli, leather and musk. There's nary a hint of locker room.

While plenty of men's colognes already are on store shelves, Mr. Jordan's entrance marks the first time a major male athlete has put his name on a scent.

"Joe Namath did Brut, but his name was not on it," says Annette Green, the president of the Fragrance Foundation.

Jody Walka, store manager of Champ's Sports in Augusta Mall, said sales of Jordan Cologne are particularly high in Augusta.

"This store is No. 1 in our district, which includes North Carolina, South Carolina and the Augusta store in Georgia," he said.

Buyers of Jordan, the first fragrance the sporting goods store has ever stocked, are mostly young men, Mr. Walka said.

"It's the 14-to-25 crowd," he said. "Put Michael Jordan's name on anything and it's going to sell. For the youth of today he's synonymous with cool."

Also available at Macy's, the cologne comes in three spray sizes, from 0.05 ounces for $12 to 3.4 ounces for $35. The bottles are shaped like a flask with a basketball etched on the front and a sneaker tread pattern on the black rubber base. There's also soap ($12), shower gel ($15) and deodorant ($12).

Michael Jordan Cologne is a collaboration between the sports superstar and Bijan, the single-name Beverly Hills fashion designer known for selling clothes by appointment only. In conjunction with the launch, Bijan has designed a custom wardrobe for Mr. Jordan, estimated to be worth $2.5 million at retail. The two are expected to continue their partnership beyond cologne, with a line of jewelry and watches and eventually with a sportswear collection.

While Ms. Green lauds the bottle design as "very clever," she warns that "most personality fragrances don't do well. In the movie world, it's only Elizabeth Taylor. Cher tried and Catherine Deneuve tried, but it has to be someone larger then life and somebody with a very strong persona."

The fragrance arrived at the Augusta Macy's store in late October and is selling well, said Claudia Stovall, a sales associate in fragrance.

Customers are "excited about it," Ms. Stovall said. "Consumers were looking for it - people who are not only sports-minded but fashion-minded."

Staff reports were also used in this article.