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EXCLUSIVE: Byredo Chief Talks (Paris) Shop

Ben Gorham is set to open a flagship and pop-up in the French capital.

PARIS — Byredo is poised to broaden its retail footprint with a first flagship and pop-up slated to open in the French capital this week, days after inaugurating a store in London.

The flagship, situated at 199 rue Saint-Honoré in the 1st arrondissement, will open to the public on Thursday, while the ephemeral location, at 11 rue Debelleyme in the Marais, debuts Sunday and remains operational through yearend.

Byredo founder Ben Gorham told WWD that since beginning his brand 11 years ago, he’s focused on product and narrative.

“I always wanted to open retail, an important part of the vision, but I was quite specific in terms of how and when,” he said. “Building a company from scratch takes time, especially in regards to our approach, [which] is quite thorough and sometimes even slow.

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“But a few years ago, we started to feel the brand maturity was there, and in cities like New York, London and Paris we have great followings and great clients,” so the natural evolution was to have the anchor of stores there, he explained.

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The flagship in Paris, Byredo’s home base, encompassing all of its categories — fragrance, beauty and leather goods — and the pop-up focusing on just one idea — camping — are complementary, since they differ so dramatically.

The 2,220-square-foot flagship on two stories will be a mix of some things old and some things new. Take, for instance, the materials such as terrazzo, polished aluminum and wood that are found in Byredo’s other stores. But there will also be a raw element involving the old building’s structure and a ceramic-glazed brick component for displays.

“In all these retail ventures, I had the opportunity to work with great craftsmen,” said Gorham. “Even though these stores [share] the same emotion, I really tackle them individually and try to understand and respect the place they are in — the city, the neighborhood. So it’s less about copy and paste and more about really creating something — in this case — for Paris.”

Due to their long-standing working relationship, Gorham requested that design agency M/M Paris play a major role in the conception of the boutique, including creating a mural of sketches. Some of the agency’s iconic art posters done with Sarah Morris are to be hanging as well.

“It was [about] looking at the city, and not only at our customers and following, but also our friends, and being able to get them to collaborate on this store,” said Gorham. “It is really a privilege.”

So, too, is the proximity to Byredo customers that the stores afford. That enables Gorham to better understand them and to have an opportunity to tailor assortments and create specific products for the various locations. “I think these stores deserve a unique facet,” he said.

Meanwhile, the pop-up takes on a different character and purpose. It was imagined around the launch of Byredo’s newest fragrance, called Eleventh Hour, out this month. “It’s a fragrance imagined around the idea of being the last perfume on earth,” said Gorham. “This entire pop-up is a build-out and an exploration of that idea in the form of a camping store.”

But it will be no typical camping shop. The 555-square-foot location with floors and walls constructed from Swedish pine sourced from a friend’s mill is to have a selection of products — many done in collaboration with other creatives and artists — that will be revealed intermittently over the next three months.

“It’s really a development of products beyond anything we’ve done,” said Gorham, referring not least to a major food element. “It’s our first time working around taste.”

He signed on French chef Jean Imbert to create freeze-dried gourmet food for camping. One menu will be unveiled in November and a second in the following month.

“It’s really interesting putting other people into different contexts and then seeing how that comes out,” said Gorham. “There’s obviously an experimental component to it, but it’s also kind of challenging the traditional notions of camping and outdoor lifestyle.”

Along with the especially created collaborative products, the camping store will carry items from the likes of Vargo, which makes titanium equipment, and Leatherman tools. It is to have a designated web shop, as well.

“An outdoor lifestyle over the last five, six years has become very important to me,” said Gorham.