Byredo Opens NY Shop, Jewelry Is Next

Fragrance on display in the new Byredo store in New York. Photo: Byredo

“It’s a bit weird because I’ll walk by this really pretty girl who smells like my dad,” says Ben Gorham. The professional basketball-player-turned perfumer has always been more interested in memories than in perfume. Which is why he based Byredo’s first scent, Green, on the memories of his father. Even now, after nearly a decade in the business, he says, “I still don’t really see them as perfumes. When I make them, they’re much more about smells.”

We’re sitting in his newly opened boutique, a pristine but cozy spot in Soho, just across from Celine and next to Momofuku Milk Bar (basically, the best block in New York right now). Gorham wants the shop, Byredo’s first in New York, to feel like an apartment, albeit a very cool apartment. “I want it to be kind of surprising,” he says. “You can float around, discover things. I think this back room is built for conversation—I hope it’s a place for conversation—and we were talking about building a bar here.”

Byredo’s Ben Gorham. Photo: Andreas Öhlund

While I firmly agree that all stores should have bars, Gorham needn’t worry, everyone will want to hang out at 62 Wooster. Last year, Byredo launched a collection of leather goods which now line the beige and white walls. Structured handbags, almost vintage-looking travel bags, and buttery leather backpacks fulfill his need for simplicity. “When I walked the floor at Barneys, hardware was really popular, there was a lot of Design,” he says. “My idea was to have a really clean well-made bag in the best materials available.”

Products, packaged in the brand’s signature black and white, fill the glass cabinets at the front of the store. “I never liked the idea of being followed around stores,” Gorham says. “I created counters to create a barrier.” And it’s only a matter of time before his next project (he calls them “the fragrance project” and “the leather project”) earns its place. “I’m working on some jewelry stuff that’s super difficult because I’m trying to do something almost mathematical,” he says.

The back room of Byredo’s new store, lined with black leather bags from the new collection. Photo: Byredo

He welcomes the challenge. Before fragrance, Gorham studied politics and business, dipped his toe into interior design, went to art school, earned a degree in fine arts, started painting, and played professional basketball, which he says he doesn’t play nearly as often as he should these days. Instead, he runs (to “hip-hop, heavy, hard, aggressive stuff,” which he finds meditative) and paddleboards off an island in Sweden.

The one thing Gorham doesn’t do, however, is wear any of his scents. “It’s hard when you’re working on fragrance all the time; you need to keep kind of neutral.” When I push, he names one he might, if forced. “Encens Chembur is an incense-based fragrance; it’s a super beautiful perfume and very unique,” he says of the scent he developed in honor of Chembur, the town in which his mother was born, just outside of Mumbai, that is also home to a fragrant Hindu temple. “It breaks my heart that it doesn’t sell.”

Go save the man some heartbreak. Byredo’s new store opens today at 62 Wooster St.