Ben Gorham thinks dudes can pull off floral scents too.
“The industry has been very dictating about what’s male and what’s female; it’s really as absurd as saying that there should be male food and female food, because taste and smell share that,” explains the 37-year-old founder of Byredo — the fashion world’s bespoke fragrance brand of choice.
“When people take a step back and try and figure out what they actually like, it opens a new world to fragrance.”
Gorham’s own introduction to fragrance started on a whim. The Indian-Canadian perfumer — born in Sweden, where he currently lives — started his career playing professional basketball in Europe before switching gears for a degree in fine arts. In 2006, he approached renowned perfumers Olivia Giacobetti and Jérôme Epinette about a project “translating memories into scents.”
Nine years later, said project is a $50 million business and we’re sitting in the sky-lit back room of his new SoHo boutique at 62 Wooster Street, across from Celine. The chic minimal store, designed by Gorham, boasts 23 unisex fragrances like his best-sellers Gypsy Water and Bal d’Afrique. It also houses his new leather goods collection and sunglass collaboration with Oliver Peoples.
And while the bushy beards and hipster flannels favored by most cool guys suggest they can’t be bothered with grooming, Gorham says cologne isn’t just for bros.
“To be honest I think it’s our father’s fault. That generation, that idea of splashing — it wasn’t very subtle,” he says. “So I think people of our generation, that pops to mind. But it’s changing: You’d be amazed at how many guys wear florals or soft woodies.”
How to find your signature scent
Gorham’s advice: Take samples. “Don’t buy a fragrance based on what it smells like on a piece of paper,” he says. “Take a sample and wear it on your skin throughout the day, because all fragrances dry down and change. Live with the fragrance and see if it agrees with you before purchasing.”
Do they hand out samples at the new Byredo? “Yes, that’s all we do here,” he says.