Imagine the mountains around Big Sur jutting from the Pacific Ocean and meeting the land in a glorious nirvana of woodland green and cerulean blue. The image is nice (see above), but even viewing it from a car on the PCH doesn't give you the full experience. You've got to open the door and let the smell of salt and flora hit your nose.
What better way to bring the woods with you than to wear them on your body? We're not talking branches or wildflowers per se, but one man has figured out how to put the mountains in a bottle employing methods rarely used by modern perfumeries -- the ultimate in eau de lumbersexual.
Hall Newbegin has mastered the alchemy of nature and philosophy through his wilderness fragrance company Juniper Ridge.
Newbegin considers himself "more of a hippie," but sees the appeal of the lumbersexual lifestyle -- as long as you're committed to the cause.
"What I'm really going for more is the authenticity, and I suppose that's where it all crosses over," he explains.
Using centuries-old techniques like enfleurage, tincturing, infusions, and steam distillation, the folks at Juniper Ridge create perfume that captures the essence of a place -- whether it's Big Sur or the Siskiyou Trail -- while using ingredients native to that location. With backpacks in tow, Newbegin and his team go on scouting trips around the West Coast and actually make perfume on the trail around the campfire.
"I don't care if it's the House of Guerlain or Chanel or the crud at Target, no one does this stuff anymore," says Newbegin. "There's a lot of things that are packaged like 'Beard this' and 'Lumberjack that.' We're going out into the mountains ourselves. We're putting our hiking boots on, and harvesting plants in a sustainable way, and putting the real stuff in a bottle from the mountains of the West."
"All trends sound kind of goofy, but it's cool," Newbegin says of lumbersexuals. "It's a deep heritage trend, and it completely resonates with me because I've been wearing Pendletons and denim ever since I was in high school."
These days Newbegin is clad in designer goods -- Jack/Knife jeans, Danner boots, and Indigofera to be exact -- but lest you think he's touting one thing and doing another, he'll set you straight. "I've been wearing these jeans every day for about a year because they're fantastic," he says.
Clothing that's well-made, yet expensive, becomes a cost-effective investment because, simply put, you can wear the shit out of them and they'll last forever.
"I would've never spent 350 bucks on a pair of jeans, but now I would because I get the whole thing," he explains. "The new rustic men's fashion movement is all about that lumbersexual thing of simple and high quality, and I love it."
In the end, Juniper Ridge isn't chasing after high-end fads. They're just on the lookout for the next great natural scent.
"People think that because we're perfume, we're like luxury goods people," Newbegin explains. "We're hikers and backpackers. We don't know shit about the luxury world. But this kind of luxury -- like what I'm wearing -- yeah, I believe in it."