“I smell this all over New York and don’t know what it is!” a Reddit user once lamented on the site’s Fragrance thread. The “woody, smokey, leathery” smell that user crlbslx was trying to pinpoint was Le Labo’s Santal 33 perfume. At this point, it’s weird if you live in New York and don’t smell like the cult, small-batch fragrance, as GQ designer Griffin Funk once tweeted. I’ve smelled it co-mingled with the scent of weed next to the Slurpee machine at an Alexander Wang Fashion Week party, in the Equinox locker room, on the wrists of many celebrity makeup artists, and once amidst the scent of broiling kalbi at a Korean-barbecue restaurant. But if the ubiquity of this sandalwood perfume and its ancillary laundry detergent isn’t enough, there’s another way to douse yourself: pre-scented Santal 33 slub cotton T-shirts.
Part of the “No Shower” collection, the scented T-shirts are a joint collaboration between Los Angeles T-shirt maker Hiro Clark and Le Labo that embraces the mysterious appeal of the unwashed T-shirt. Although the reality is that most unwashed T-shirts smell like something mildewy left too long in a Soul Cycle plastic bag, “No Shower” is inspired by the fantasy of a lover’s familiar and close (and presumably, non-funky) personal odor. As Le Labo co-founder Fabrice Penot describes it, “Napoleon wrote to Josephine from the battlefield: ‘Don’t wash, I return in 3 days’ — [a] kind of 19th-century sexting. Imagine how sexy she would have been by opening the door only wearing a dirty Santal 33 Hiro Clark Tee?” Microcapsules woven into the fabric give the shirt Santal 33’s distinctive cedarwood blend, scenting it for up to six washes.
I received my “I Woke Up Smelling Like This” T-shirt in the mail and the scent was so strong I could smell it through the box and the plastic bag it was wrapped in. Although I felt a bit like a better-smelling version of Charlie Brown’s Pig-Pen when I wore the shirt consecutive days without washing it, no one seemed to notice. Friends leaned in for more lingering hugs than usual, while telling me that I smelled “fantastic.” I received appreciative looks from neighbors on the subway. Once, I even wore it reluctantly to work out and my sweat has never smelled better (magically, the T-shirt was totally funk-free post-workout). When I finally threw it in the wash, it even had the happy effect of giving a subtle fragrance to everything else that was in the same laundry load, so that my sheets smelled perfumed, too. The fashion industry may love the niche and undiscovered — but when you smell this good, the omnipresent is hard to pass up.