Byredo’s Ascension Into Hip Hop Culture

By now everyone within the fragrance industry is well familiar with the Swedish niche brand Byredo. Founded by ex-basketball player Ben Gorham and acquired by Manzanita Capital (who bought a majority stake in 2013) the brand has become a rising player among other big niche brands like Le Labo and Jo Malone.

One, from first glance it appears to be a reversal of brand extension in the traditional luxury brand sense.

Two, I believe Ben has his eyes set on something that is less about product offering and more about cultural impact.

Let’s take a look at both subjects to get a better understanding of what’s going on.

Traditionally many big brands that exist in the perfume industry have always come from the world of luxury textiles (LV, Gucci, Hermes, etc) and have extended their brands to offer fragrance as a way to capture a pool of consumers that may not be able to afford the entire vision but still want to purchase a part of the dream.

Traditional Luxury Brand Extension Pyramid

In that sense, fragrance acts as a way for that particular consumer to feel like they are a part of the brand while giving them hopes to one day be part of the cult members that can walk in to the brand’s boutique and purchase whatever they want- or at the very least finally buy the pairs of shoes they’ve been window shopping every season.

In the realm of niche perfume brands what we have traditionally seen from others that extend their product architecture is an offering of other goods that still fit under the olfactive umbrella such as home candles and beauty products.

While the Byredo brand has done an outward brand extension into candles and cosmetics, what’s interesting to see is their vertical extension into textiles.

Truth be told, they aren’t the first niche fragrance brand to do this, both French niche perfumers Juliette Espinasse Dubois of July of St. Barth and David Jourquin of Le Parfum de David Jourquin have vertically extended their brand offerings into textiles; the latter releasing a line of leather carryalls and the former offers a line of women’s hats.

Traditional Niche Fragrance Product Extension

But what’s different about Byredo is the brand positioning that’s taking place within this process and there lies the mystery target that I believe the Ben is aiming for.

Cultural Impact

I instinctively knew exactly what Ben Gorham was doing when he released his Elevator Music collab with Virgil and while most of the niche fragrance community had no idea who the latter was I applauded the move from both teams.

The two have long been friends and I’m sure the collab came about organically, but the opportunity that it provides the Byredo brand is beyond, what I feel, any niche fragrance brand has ever considered and that’s massive cultural impact.

By Byredo positioning themselves with Off-White and offering quality leather goods and exclusive textiles they get the opportunity to reach the youngins of the fragrance community who still don’t know what niche perfume is. Also, streetwear is a global wave that goes hand in hand with Hip-Hop and Virgil has an enormous influence on Hip-Hop culture.

Major lux fashion brands are just now catching on to how impactful hip-hop culture is and accepting that it’s probably only going get become more influential as the music continues to be the most popular music on the planet.

With Byredo positioning themselves amongst people that have an extreme amount of relevance and influence in Hip-Hop Ben is able to tell that audience,

“Hey, we are for you too!”

Without having to change a single thing about the brand aesthetic or communication styles that would turn off existing or new consumers that aren’t a part of the hip-hop world.

And that my friends is one hell of a coup d’etat!

It will be interesting to see how the success of Byredo’s vertical brand extension pans out, but I wish them the best and I’m excited to see what other tricks Ben has up his sleeves.

As an artisanal brand have you ever consider the extension of your product architecture into spheres that exist outside the olfactive categories?

If so, what have you considered and what’s holding you back from executing?



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Christopher Grate

Christopher Grate


Facebook Ads and Social Media Strategist. Digital Nomad, Artist & Glutton 4 Wisdom. I share marketing tips & life lessons to help you be a better entrepreneur.