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Perfume in the metaverse? Startup Rtfkt and luxury fragrance brand Byredo Say Yes

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Perfume in the metaverse? Byredo and Rtfkt bet on visual “aura”

The collaboration includes a digital “aura” and the ability for collectors to customize and buy physical fragrances by merging NFTs.

Digital fashion startup Rtfkt and luxury fragrance brand Byredo have partnered on a perfume for Web3, a first for both companies driven by Nike-owned Rtfkt’s experimental Web3 approach.

The Alphameta collab involves wearable digital “auras”, customized digital and physical scents, and NFT-connected near-field communication (NFC) tags on bottles. Working with Paris-based art directors M/M, Byredo and Rtfkt are visually rendering 26 ingredients that represent emotions (such as acuity, harmony, naivety and virtue). These will be treated as digital collectibles, and will come in limited quantities and wearable via Rtfkt’s “avatar ecosystem”, which includes its CloneX avatars. More details on the launch will be announced in July.

This is Byredo’s first metaverse project, and while it’s the latest in a long history of collaborations for Rtfkt, it’s the startup’s first take on fragrance. Rtfkt most recently created a digital “Cryptokicks” sneaker co-branded with parent-company Nike that can be turned into physical versions by those who collect the NFTs.

Reproducing ephemeral items such as skincare and fragrance has presented a quandary in the metaverse, and a few brands have begun interpreting them visually. In March, Estée Lauder created an experience for Decentraland’s Metaverse Fashion Week that invited visitors to claim a POAP (a proof of attendance protocol) to receive a “glow”, while Clinique recently introduced a partnership with PFP (profile picture) avatar collection Non-Fungible People that gave avatars a similar skincare-induced glow, in addition to makeup looks. Guerlain created an NFT collection whose sales helped fund a physical nature preserve. There are also a number of tech startups working to create a perfume for the metaverse.

Similar to the co-branded Nike and Rtfkt Cryptokicks sneakers, collectors will be able to create custom scents by combining the digital ingredients that can then be forged (meaning physically produced), at up to 2,000 scents. Through NFTs, people can combine two of the ingredients to “mix together, like an alchemist, like potions in video games,” says Rtfkt cofounder Benoit Pagotto. The physical bottles will then be produced and individually numbered and identified with an NFC tag connecting it to its NFT, similar to the upcoming Cryptokicks sneakers. Phygital NFTs have become a new hot topic among brands and tech startups, with the promise of enabling people to twin with their avatars.

“I liked the idea of dissecting it down to raw materials,” says Byredo founder and creative director Ben Gorham, in a release. “A single scent is incapable of representing this virtual world, so we formulated a lexicon of elements that collectors can combine at will to make something entirely unique.”

Byredo, which was acquired by Puig in May, is known for its cult-favourite perfumes including Gypsy Water, and also produces leather accessories and makeup (still a small part of the business).

“We always wanted a perfume but had to do it differently, and Byredo was always our dream partner to make this vision happen,” said Pagotto. “It’s one of my favourite projects we have going, an idea I’ve had for a while, and Byredo is the perfect partner for it.”

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