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Art of Sport Launches Latest Scent With James Harden

The Brooklyn Nets star teamed on Defy, the latest Art of Sport scent, inspired by his basketball career and Kobe Bryant.

Body care brand Art of Sport launched on Tuesday its new scent, Defy, on Amazon this month, made in partnership with Brooklyn Nets star and brand partner James Harden.

Defy, the brand’s latest signature scent, is light and energetic with notes of sandalwood and peakwood, and is available in the brand’s full product range including a charcoal body wash, charcoal bar soap, deodorant, antiperspirant, shampoo and conditioner and body spray for $6 each.

Harden worked with the Art of Sport team for about 18 months developing the scent that is inspired by his childhood memories and professional career.

“The process was fun. I wanted the scent to be true to who I am as a person, so we looked at how I got to where I am today,” Harden said. “I collaborate with all of my partners on any signature products that go to market under my brand. I have done this with some of my other partners in the past. It’s a fun process and I love telling stories through products.”

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Harden recalled walks to the park to play basketball and late nights at the gym as a few of the memories to inspire this scent, as well as the late Kobe Bryant, Art of Sport’s cofounder and Harden’s inspiration on and off the court. They also worked together on BodyArmor, a sports drink company Bryant invested in, which was sold to Coca-Cola in November 2021.

Bryant developed Art of Sport’s first scent, Victory, a bestseller for the brand that first released in 2019. The late basketball star recruited Harden as a brand partner to help test and develop the products.

“I never imagined being in business with Kobe,” Harden said. “He was my childhood idol and inspired me to play the game of basketball, so to be a part of a second venture with him is an honor. This project is very important to me.”

The Defy range by Art of Sport and James Harden
The Defy range by Art of Sport and James Harden. Steven Counts

Defy first launches at Amazon and this March will land at Target, one of Art of Sport’s first retail partners that cofounder Matthias Metternich describes as “innovation based.”

“When we launch, we do it at Target first,” he explained. “We haven’t moved out to our full retail network yet.” The network, which expanded in 2020 to 25,000 locations, includes Walgreens, CVS, Meijer, Dick’s Sporting Goods where the brand is the bestselling skin care brand and Kroger’s among others.

Metternich said since moving into retail the business has grown 400 percent in gross sales and revenue. He added that this recent holiday season eclipsed the Prime Day event they headlined with Bryant in 2019, including the $9.99 gift box package they offered for the event.

In early 2021, the brand raised $6 million in funding led by American entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. Metternich said they are not raising capital but has received interest from “household name athletes that want to invest in the business.”

Their current roster of athlete partners include Harden; JuJu Smith-Schuster; Ryan Sheckler; professional surfer Sage Erickson; Chicago Cubs star and 2016 World Series Champion Javier Báez, and recent addition Abby Dahlkemper, a world champion and national champion soccer player who plays for the U.S. national team and the San Diego Wave FC of the National Women’s Soccer League.