Best Zara Colognes- How to Smell Designer Without Breaking the Bank (2022)

I’m something of a Zara regular. For the past few years, I’ve been picking up floral shirts and statement jackets that mimic designer trends at a fraction of the price.

I was not, however, aware that this sensibility also extends to the best Zara colognes.

The price-to-quality ratio of Zara fragrances is incredible.

Best overall
Vibrant Leather

Vibrant Leather

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Best citrus pick
Vetiver Pamplemousse

Vetiver Pamplemousse

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the classy pick
Tobacco Collection: Rich, warm, addictive

Rich, Warm, Addictive

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Zara are known for producing fragrances “inspired by” (read: blatant clones of) high-end fragrances- and they do a great job.

Some of the fragrances I’ll be discussing are 90% alike their designer counterparts, but at 10-20% of the price.

My top pick this week, Vibrant Leather, is basically Aventus by Creed. Really.

Sure, you’ll have to make some allowances in terms of performance. Most Zara colognes will need to be reapplied to survive the whole day, but you can’t really expect more. Either way, they still last longer than most other colognes in this price range.

Zara have have produced over 200 fragrances up till now, which might leave you wondering where to start.

Luckily for you, I’ve narrowed it down to the 8 best Zara colognes.

In this guide, I’ll be covering which colognes are best for imitating certain designer scents, alongside a few unique fragrances that bring something new to the table.

So- let’s get into it!

Vibrant Leather- Best Overall- The Creed Imitator

Vibrant Leather was the turning point for Zara to be taken seriously in the fragrance community.

Vibrant Leather

Vibrant Leather

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It’s an unashamed Aventus Creed clone and does an excellent job at mimicking the heavyweight cologne for a fraction of the price.

Vibrant Leather is a masculine and professional-smelling fragrance, delivering CEO confidence and authority.

If you’ve always wanted to get into Creed fragrances but can’t afford it, this is the cologne for you.

It opens up with the iconic combo of bergamot and zesty lemon and lime. This freshness fades within an hour or two into a wood, musky aroma. 

The leather in the name is rather quiet. I interpret Vibrant Leather as a fresh and clean fragrance, rather than the dark leather the name prepares you for.

For me, Vibrant Leather is the best value Aventus clone available today. I’d recommend it if you want to understand what all the fuss over Aventus is about, but want to keep an eye on your wallet too. 

As you’d expect for a cheaper cologne, it doesn’t pack quite as much of a punch as its designer inspiration. Vibrant Leather wears as more a light Eau de Toilette than a powerful Eau de Parfum. It’s a watered-down interpretation, but you can’t expect anything more for the price. 

You’ll get an hour or so of solid projection before Vibrant Leather retreats to skin scent territory for a further 4-5.

If you’re looking for something a little more potent but still affordable, I’d recommend taking a look at Montblanc Explorer. It’s another high-quality Aventus clone. 

Even with that in mind, Vibrant Leather is a cologne I would recommend to anyone. For a hilariously low price, you’re blessed with a real compliment-collecting fragrance that is truly versatile. 

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Top Notes:Bergamot, Citruses
Middle Note:Bamboo
Base Note:Leather
Zara Vibrant Leather Fragrance Notes

Vibrant Leather Oud- Best for Retro Feel

A twist on my top pick, Vibrant Leather Oud is one of the best Zara colognes I tested. It’s got an 80s/90s feel and reminds me of a classy nightclub where you’re dressed to the nines.

Vibrant Leather Oud

Vibrant Leather Oud

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A crisp Armani shirt, an enormous watch, leather moccasins with no socks- Vibrant Oud is the Zara fragrance you’d choose for flexing on the haters.

Compared to the original, Vibrant Leather Oud is a little toned down in terms of brightness. This is a deeper blend that replaces the sweet citrusy bergamot with smoky, mysterious incense. In that sense, it’s a touch more masculine- but less clean and business appropriate. 

Zara Vibrant Leather Oud opens with a mandarin note combined with dark oud. The oud here is similar to modern interpretations like Tom Ford’s Oud Wood. It’s unpolarising and cleaned up for a western audience, for sure. 

Once it settles down, Vibrant Leather Oud mellows into woody incense, tempered with a hint of amber. Like the original, I don’t get much leather from this fragrance. There’s a hint in the base, but the overriding sense is soapy woodiness from the Oud.

The performance is slightly improved from the original, but only marginally. The projection is longer (you might get two solid hours), but the overall longevity is much the same. If you get 5 hours, you’re doing well.

Even with that in mind, Vibrant Leather Oud still represents obscenely good value.

If this were like a Versace fragrance with improved longevity, people would go crazy for it. 

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Need to know: What does Oud smell like?

Top Notes:Bergamot
Middle Notes:Incense and Woodsy Notes
Base Notes:Oud (Agarwood)
Zara Vibrant Leather Oud Fragrance Notes

Vetiver Pamplemousse- Best for Energizing Citrus

Vetiver Pamplemousse is a fatally attractive grapefruit cologne. It’s all about energizing and sharp grapefruit, uncomplicated aside from a couple of touches of greenery. 

Vetiver Pamplemousse

Vetiver Pamplemousse

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It might be the most accurate and realistic grapefruit I’ve ever found in a cologne. Most budget fragrances confuse the note by adding lemon and lime, where the result is just a general citrus sense.

I was impressed straight from the opening. Vetiver Pamplemousse surprised me with its quality right away, smelling way above its price bracket. There’s no alcohol sense that you often find in cheaper fragrances. In fact, the grapefruit smells noticeably natural.

This is an authentic representation that captures the bitterness of the rind and the juice of the flesh. It sort of reminds me of the white spongey section under the skin.

In the dry down, you start to notice subtle notes of green vetiver, which serves as a softener to the acerbic grapefruit accord. Still, the vetiver is nowhere near as prominent as the name might lead you to believe. Zara should have named this fragrance Pamplemousse Vetiver, not the other way around. 

This is a pleasant and natural-smelling cologne that I don’t tire of throughout the day. That said, I do find myself having to reapply it. At the risk of repeating myself, Zara produces high-quality fragrances- but their longevity is not top-tier.

You’re looking at 4 hours or so before it fades away. I tend to spray once before work, once at lunch, and then again when I’m leaving the office. At this price, you can permit yourself to spray it at will and without guilt. 

This zesty pick-me-up is best for spring and summer days and evenings. It is neither suited to nor capable of cutting through a frigid winter’s day. Vetiver Pamplemousse performs similarly to other fresh summer colognes like Jimmy Choo Man and Dior Homme– but for half the price. 

P.S if you’re looking for a grapefruit heavy cologne but need better performance, you should check out Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Forever pour Homme. It’s grapefruit city.

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Top Notes:Grapefruit, Sweet Mandarin
Middle Notes:Green Vetiver
Base Notes:Cedar, Vetiver Root
Zara Vetiver Pamplemousse Fragrance Notes

Tobacco Collection RWA- Best for Class on a Budget

This warm and cozy scent certainly lives up to the name; rich, warm, addictive.

Tobacco Collection: Rich, warm, addictive

Rich, Warm, Addictive

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For the price, RWA is almost unbelievably good. Too good. It’s a supreme, tempting aroma from start to finish, with solid projection and longevity. 

If have no money to smell a million bucks, I say to you: buy this cologne from Zara. 

The only reason it’s not my top pick is because I know a chunk of people struggle to get along with tobacco fragrances. I personally love them, and if you do too, RWA is a no-brainer. 

The tobacco in this blend is realistic, sharp, and fruity. This is not the same sort of cleaned-up, sweet tobacco flower you’d find in Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille, for example. 

The opening is sugar cane and coconutty sweetness, which lasts for about an hour. After this, the warm creamy vanilla opens up, with touches of rum and cardamom and cloves lending spice and warmth to the heart.

There’s surprising and welcome depth in this fragrance, with layers evolving and changing over time.

This is no generic, linear tobacco blast, that’s for sure. 

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Top Notes:White Rum, Tobacco Flower
Middle Notes:Peony Wood, Tobacco Leaf, Cardamom and Cloves
Base Notes:Bourbon Vanilla
Zara Tobacco Collection Rich Warm Addictive Fragrance Notes

Men’s W/End till 3:00 AM- Men’s W/End till 8:00 PM- Best Value for Money

These two colognes come as part of a pair pack designed to guide you through an entire day of revelry.

Men’s W/End till 3:00 AM- Men’s W/End till 8:00 PM-

Men’s W/End Pair

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W/End till 3:00AM

Let’s look at the “night” partner first. W/End to 3:00AM is like a minimalist version of vibrant leather. It still revolves around top notes of pineapple and bergamot, but it’s cleaned up and restrained. 

I’d bracket this more as ambiguous musky citrus than something that would make you exclaim “pineapple!” in the way VL or Creed Aventus might. 

This light fragrance has “I just got out of the shower” vibes, emphasizing freshness for daytime activity. 

As time goes by there’s a bit of development from semi-sweet florals like lavender and violet, and the heart livens up through a pinch of black pepper. It sits on top of a powdery base of cedar with a hit of sweet amber. 

Standard longevity and projection of 4-5 hours. Are you noticing a theme developing with Zara colognes?

Top Notes:Pineapple and Bergamot
Middle Notes:Lavender and Violet Leaf
Base Notes:Cedar
W/End Till 3:00AM Fragrance Notes

And now, onto its partner in crime…

W/End till 8PM

Men’s W/End till 8:00PM is an aquatic and aromatic day scent that women seem to love to be around. 

My girlfriend literally grabbed hold of me during my test day and wouldn’t let me go until I told her what I was wearing. When I told her it was a $15 Zara cologne, she was as bemused as I was.

Then, the same thing happened to me in the checkout aisle later that day. Okay, this time the lady wasn’t quite as insistent, but you get the point. W/End 8:00PM makes women sit up, take notice and pay attention.  

Till 8:00PM has that Invictus-style pineapple bursting forth in full glory. When it combines with mandarin orange in the opening, the result is a sweet peachy delight.

Top Notes:Mandarin Orange and Pineapple
Middle Notes:Lavender and Pepper
Base Notes:Amber and Leather
W/End till 8:00PM Fragrance Notes

Gun to my head, W/End 3:00AM is my favorite of the two. It smells like Bvlgari Aqva Atlantique, and is a great option if you want a fresh and tropical cologne without spending a fortune. 

The quality/cost ratio is high across all the best Zara colognes, but that’s never been more obvious than with the W/End twin pack deal.

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Man Gold- Best for Confidence and Seduction

Man Gold is a classic “sex appeal” fragrance and doesn’t smell anywhere near as cheap as it is.

Man Gold Zara

Man Gold

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The opening is rich and chocolatey, with fresh citrus perched on top of a dark, gourmand balsamic. Despite the sweetness, the overriding sense is one of masculinity and confidence.

After 5-10 minutes the games begin. In come strong spiced elements of dry cinnamon and warm cardamom, and Man Gold starts to smell as precious as gold itself. Touches of incense enhance this luxurious sense and lend a mysterious, brooding quality.

Projection-wise, Man Gold does a little better than the other Zara colognes in this list. It’s a loud fragrance, and you’ll get 2-3 hours of arms-length fragrance from the initial application. Longevity is roughly what you’d expect, clocking in around 5 hours. 

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Top Notes:Lemon, Balsamic
Middle Notes:Cinnamon, Incense and Black Cardamom
Base NotesEbony Wood, Amber, Patchouli
Zara Man Gold Fragrance Notes

Night Pour Homme III – Best for Nightlife – Yves Saint Laurent Imitator

Night Pour Homme has a “fizzy” cola sort of vibe. I’ve always loved resinous, amber, cardamom-infused fragrances, and this Zara cologne fits the bill 100%.

Night Pour Homme III

Night Pour Homme III

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If you’re a fan of Yves Saint Laurent, this one is for you. It’s 90% of the way to a duplicate of L’Homme.

I am shocked by the resemblance- if you hadn’t worn either fragrance regularly, I doubt you’d be able to tell the difference at all. 

A word of warning- the first 5-10 minutes are sort of rough. It starts SUPER synthetic and chemically, and doesn’t smell particularly good.

After 10-15 minutes, everything settles down and this initial harshness fades away. 

There’s a touch of iris which lays across the fragrance profile like a racing stripe. It sticks out, draws attention, but enhances rather than distracts. It’s this floral undertone that differentiates it from YSL’s L’Homme.

Oh, that and the performance. For such a low price, you know that performance isn’t going to be able to stack up against high-end designer houses like YSL. 

Nevertheless, you’re going to get the standard Zara output of 4-5 hours, which is very respectable at this price point.

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Top Notes:Cardamom and Bergamot
Middle Notes:Lavender
Base Notes:Amber and Cedar
Zara Night Pour Homme III Fragrance Notes

FAQ- What You Should Know About the Best Zara Colognes

So- What Now?

Zara are a European company, so we aren’t blessed with masses of stores in the States. To save yourself a drive across the country, I’d recommend ordering online.

You’re also more likely to get the cologne you want this way, rather than settling for whatever they have in stock in-store.

I’ve included links to the best prices I could find from reputable retailers, so you can buy with confidence that your cologne is legitimate and will actually arrive. Zara colognes are cheap enough that it’s not worth using a sketchy website just to save a few dollars.

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