The brainchild of Comme des Garçons’ founder and creative director Rei Kawakubo and her partner in life and business Adrian Joffe, Dover Street Market is an icon in the high fashion and streetwear retail space. Disruptive by nature, the first store was born on the streets of London and created to rethink the way in which we approach shopping. With stores now in 7 cities, each offering a unique experience, Dover Street Market has become a key figure in youth culture worldwide.
IT STARTED ON DOVER STREET
While Dover Street Market is technically a store, from its layout to its offering, it feels more like a market, just as its name implies. Kawakubo and Joffe were originally inspired by the Kensington Market, wanting to recreate the large, random and spontaneous assortment of clothing and random tidbits available at such places. Going into it knowing DSM would be a stockist for Comme des Garçons, its sublabels and other brands, the store was originally named after its Mayfair street name, Dover Street, which opened in 2004 and kept its name after moving in 2016 to its current Soho location, which also happens to be Burberry’s old headquarters from 1912.
A GLOBAL EXPANSION
After a successful launch in London, DSM packed its bags to head to several different countries for new openings globally, with a heavy focus on Asia, considering Comme des Garçons’ Japanese roots. The first international location also happens to be Kawakubo’s hometown of Tokyo, in the district of Ginza, where the store landed in 2012, 7 years after the London opening. The global takeover only grew from there, with an NYC opening the next year, with cities including Singapore, Beijing and Los Angeles following suit, and Paris being the last to join the DSM family with an opening in 2021.
COMME DES GARÇONS & MORE
What makes Dover Street Market stand out as a store is that it doesn’t just sell Comme des Garçons and its many diffusion lines – Homme, CDG Play, CDG Shirt and the list goes on – but also taps other luxurious brands. Names like Gucci, Prada, Loewe and Miu Miu all have their own dedicated spaces, as well as supporting newcomers to the game like Kiko Kostadinov and Molly Goddard.
In addition, DSM has also become a key player within the streetwear scene, stocking brands such as Stüssy, Nike, and Palace. Having become an entity of its own, DSM has also secured some collaborations of its own, including a co-branded The North Face black puffer, a Burberry trench for the store’s 15th anniversary and Gucci for SS22.
MORE THAN JUST CLOTHING
Dover Street Market is often credited as being the first concept store, reimagining what a physical store can look like. Merging together high fashion and streetwear, clothing and art installations, as well as sprinkling in homeware decor and other random objects, DSM treats its fashion in a contextualised, holistic manner, which includes a closing and reopening twice a year to revamp the space ahead of the new season. When describing the store, Kawakubo is known to call it a “beautiful chaos”.
A CORNERSTONE OF CULTURE
With the London store becoming a go-to hangout spot for fashion students and chat to staff, and Tokyo’s space taking over a traditional old-school commercial area, DSM has become an enabler of culture. A pioneer in merging streetwear and high fashion together, Kawakubo and Joffe’s store have tapped and integrated a community at large, who never fail to show up like to the Heaven by Marc Jacobs’ launch party, or the wild archive sale in London where shoppers are queueing for over 4 hours to get their hands on a discounted archival piece. Needless to say, Dover Street Market is more than just a store.
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