Porches Performs at Leather-Scented Party

Porches Performs at Leather-Scented Party

The rocker-turned-perfumer launched a niche scent with Hawthorne.

The rocker-turned-perfumer launched a niche scent with Hawthorne.

Text: SAMUEL ANDERSON

Within the vast canon of songs about fashion, the Porches song “Leather,” in which singer Aaron Maine croons “I want to trade in my jeans for leather,” is more mournful than, say, “These Boots Were Made For Walking,” Nancy Sinatra’s tribute to arch support, or the Drake and Migos paean to Versace. But the song, which Maine originally released on BandCamp in 2014, is more about a feeling than fashion bona fides. “I remember when I first moved to New York, I was kind of captivated by everything,” he says of the song’s inspiration. “[It’s about] being excited about nightlife and new people.”

Now, the evocative song is the namesake of an equally evocative scent: Leather by Hawthorne. Of the connection between fragrance and music, Hawthorne cofounder Phillip Wong says, “The two kind of go hand and hand; it’s the emotion you get from hearing a song vs. the emotion you get from wearing a piece of clothing, or seeing a runway show during fashion week.”

After first crossing paths in the visual arts program at SUNY Purchase, Wong and Maine reconnected in Manhattan. "We didn’t really chill that much [in college] but when I moved to the City, I found out Phil lived like three blocks from me,” explains Maine. “That sealed the deal.”

Before long, Wong, a former Hood by Air designer, was creating Porches music merch. In 2017, he and Wharton alum Brian Jeong launched Hawthorne, which specializes in algorithmically matching scents to consumers. A collaboration with Maine, who’s become a New York Fashion Week fixture (he walked in the Gauntlett Cheng show last month) emerged naturally, as Wong, a New York native, was just as sympathetic to leather’s allure.

“Growing up on the Upper West Side, there wasn’t much of a nightlife scene so as a teenager I would always end up skateboarding downtown, past 14th St. I always associated leather with that feeling of rebelling, or owning a new experience,” explains Wong. As cerebral as it is sensual, the fragrance itself reflects the tangible aspects of leather as well. “Our master perfumer literally went to the Jaguar dealership to crawl into the cars touch and smell the leather on the seats,” adds Wong. “Just to get a good sense of that authentic emotion of driving a car or having ownership of [it].”

The spirit of leather was in the air at a launch party for the fragrance last night. “It's sexy, sweaty, nasty, tight, when you wear it that way it’s rock ‘n’ roll, like The Ramones. Shit like that,” said Maine of the night’s theme, before performing a rendition of the song “Leather” for a crowd that included fellow enthusiast Dev Hynes. But Wong insists the scent isn’t intended for one scene in particular: “Whether you're into punk, or you queer or you're into fetish, it makes sense for you. That’s how we’ve looked at fragrance this whole time; it’s very much a subjective thing.”

Dev Hynes

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