SASKATOON -- In a world often focused on looks, Clay Bergen is more interested in how he smells.

He started collecting men’s colognes about a year ago. Since then, fragrance has become part of his routine. 

He coordinates the cologne he wears to his mood, weather conditions and the events he’s attending.

He says the hobby started when his wife on 25-years was tired of the Grey Flannel cologne he wore in college, “I love it and my wife hates it,” he says.

“I found a bottle of Armani Colonia which is what they call a ‘flanker.’ When I travelled to Europe I just smelled it everywhere. From there, I just started adding fragrances to my collection."

Bergen, a high school teacher, started watching fragrance reviews and became hooked on hunting for fragrance and trying new scents.

There are thousands of men’s colognes in production in the world today, says Bergen. Most are made by fashion designers and some by niche fragrance houses.

Bergen began posting about the new scents he acquired on Instagram and that led him to make new friends with "scent sommeliers" from other countries. He’s traded sample bottles of cologne with other collectors.

His “scent of the day” posts on Instagram got noticed by a company called the Fragrance Club Genealogy Club. They shipped six bottles of a scent they replicated called Creed to review and post about on his social media.

Bergen says the hobby has also made him more aware of scents. He’s had to learn the lingo of the scent world to help describe colognes in reviews for his followers.

“In the fragrance community, people have been really welcoming. They’ve helped point me in the direction of fragrances that would be really cool to wear and are helping by trading decant of fragrances. I’ll send them some and they’ll send me some. Things that I want to get my nose on,” quips Bergen.

Fragrance designer George Zaharoff noticed Bergen’s fragrance posts and made a point of calling him this spring to chat about colognes and life during COVID-19 in Canada.

Bergen jokes the hobby has also been a good break from the scents he’s typically around during the day when he’s at school where the scents from high school gym class can sometimes be overpowering.