Get groomed with Ben Gorham
Article by GQ
The founder of Byredo isn't your average perfumer. As he prepares to open his first standalone store in London, we talk grooming with scentmaster Ben Gorham.
Ben Gorham didn't set out to be a perfumer - and yet, over the past 11 years, his company, Byredo, has become one of the coolest fragrance companies on the planet.
"I don't even remember buying a fragrance for myself growing up," Gorham says, when I telephone him at his Stockholm HQ. "People always find that hard to believe."
It is rather. This from a man who has been directly responsible for producing a series of scents that have won over even the most hardcore of olfactory obsessives. Not just that, but he has crafted a company that not only produces cool products, but also looks cool. Its elegant, Scandi-stark cylindrical bottles with black domed lids and minimal monochrome labels have become almost as intertwined with Byredo's image as that of Gorham himself: an intimidatingly tall former professional basketball player (he's 6' 5") with muscular arms covered in sleeves of tattoos, a short beard and poker-straight dark, long hair in luxuriant abundance (often tied up in a bun or worn in a plait). His style is louche and laid-back: he might slip on the occasional suit, but his everyday uniform is black T-shirts, lumberjack checks, artfully beat-up denim and trainers. In short, he's the antithesis to the image of a perfumer you might have in your mind's eye except in one crucial way: he is obsessed with how smell affects a person. And that's how Byredo came to be.
"I had just come out of art school and was fascinated by smell as a medium, and especially the connection between scent and memory," Gorham says. "I realised perfume could be the most accessible product for these ideas to reach many, many people. Perfume grew more out of necessity, so I could have commercial viability for the ideas I had."
Evidence suggests this was an excellent strategy. The brand has expanded purely from fragrances into candles, body and hair care and leather goods, and has collaborated with Virgil Abloh's Off-White and LA-based denim brand Frame on its first-ever menswear collection (inspired by the American West). Gorham has a studio in Stockholm, an office in New York and his products are stocked at almost 40 stores across the United States, France, Sweden, Hong Kong and the UK, not to mention in the bathrooms of some of the world's chic-est hotels.