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Byredo's World: From the New London Store to the Fragrance You Have to Smell

Luxury fragrance brand Byredo has captured the hearts and imaginations of both Londoners and the fashion set. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone in the city who hasn’t smelt one of the brand’s cult fragrances like Gypsy Water, Bal D'Afrique or Blanche.

“I always found London to be very progressive and quite unique in terms of cultures and subcultures. Historically, it’s been a place where things are born,” Ben Gorham, Byredo’s founder, tells me. “We launched in the UK early in the brand’s history. We had a great following and saw great success.”

It’s Sunday afternoon and we’re sat on the first floor of Byredo’s pristine new London store ahead of its launch party. In case you were wondering, I wore Byredo’s Velvet Haze for our meeting; it’s a blend of coconut water, patchouli, cocoa and musk. It smells much more mellow than you’d imagine, and the same has to be said of Gorham: He’s soft-spoken, incredibly friendly and full of wisdom. In all honesty, I could have chatted with him for hours.

Despite the brand having stores in Stockholm (where Gorham lives) and New York, he tells me, “London was top of my list.” Though the launch party is just hours away, Gorham sat me down to talk to me about his inspiration, his hopes for the brand and the one Byredo fragrance everyone should smell.

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Photo:

 Thomas Goldblum

You’re a native Swede, your mother is Indian and your dad is Canadian. You grew up in Toronto, New York and Stockholm. How have these different cultures/places moulded you as a person and a creative?

Big question. I think that as a person, I feel comfortable in every environment, but that later translated into an interest in travelling and different cultures. It’s definitely shaped who I am, and as a creative, I try to be very subjective in my work. It’s definitely had a big influence.

For anyone new to Byredo, how would you like them to first experience it?

Right here [in store]! I truly believe this is the apex of how I envision the experience. It allows us to control every aspect of the experience. I think that because of the nature of the brand, it requires a fair amount of knowledge and explanation. I don’t think everything we do is super obvious, so I always envisioned it in this type of environment, partly because of the emotion but also because of the staff who can really speak to the origin of these products. That in-depth understanding helps people connect in a different way to the brand.

Most of the business over the last 10 years has been in department stores, where there’s energy, crowds, noise and lighting. All these things obviously influence the way you perceive products. I always envisioned somebody in this type of environment trying a bag or a fragrance. We work a lot with the fragrance, and encourage people to take home samples and wear it on the skin for a day. I think we initially called it “the long sale” to motivate the commercial teams, but it really is. If people make a true decision of what fragrance to wear, they will keep coming back.