dover street market celebrates a decade-long reign as the world’s coolest store
Deep in the heart of central London, in a converted Georgian building, lies the fashion mecca that is Dover Street Market. Conceived by the undisputed Queen of avant-garde cool, Rei Kawakubo, Dover Street Market covers six floors and houses all the Comme des Garçons collections, alongside brands particularly chosen to be in keeping with the Dover Street Market concept. There are no set criteria, but all the brands, from Gosha Rubchinskiy to Givenchy, from Céline to Sacai, share a common denominator: a strong vision and distinct originality. Complete with slightly dishevelled walls, the brand's 1200 square metre original outpost (there are also stores in Tokyo, New York and I.T Beijing Market) is something of an essential destination for the discerning fashion consumer.
Having opened in 2004, it's hard to believe that Dover Street Market is now ten years old. In a relatively short time it has completely revolutionised what a retailer can be. Part experiential, part aspirational, and completely unique, it has paved the way for many retailers-turned-brands and has transformed a sleepy enclave in Mayfair into the go-to destination for high-end retailing, with brands like Acne, Christian Louboutin and Victoria Beckham following suit and all planting their flags and staking their claim on the street. But Dover Street Market was there first and it remains the anchor. To celebrate, the store has planned a bumper month of events, installations and the like, under the moniker "The Next Ten Years" - a nod to the progressive spirit of the brand.
"The staff are completely and utterly an integral part of DSM. Without them, there is no shopping experience. Their diversity, hard work and imaginations as well as their collective and individual visions are the very epitome of DSM." Adrian Joffe
Nicolas Ghesquière's autumn/winter 14 collection for Louis Vuitton is showcased on the first floor, and each of the six heavenly floors will have specially-curated events by different designers. If you are lucky, you may run into your favourite; selected designers are on-hand in-store to rub elbows with you as you shop. Ten DSM souvenir products that have been designed and curated by Rei Kawakubo are available for purchase, as well as items celebrating both past and present, from the likes of Craig Green, Simone Rocha, Rick Owens and Undercover, and special wears from Nike and Palace Skateboards.
So what is it exactly that makes DSM so special? It's a carefully considered chemistry that simply can't be replicated anywhere else: fantastic products that we didn't even know we wanted exhibited in a stunningly designed space with great staff who look the part and know their stuff. Their choice of employees particularly stand out - engaged, passionate and in love with the products and the store. "They are completely and utterly an integral part of DSM," says Adrian Joffe, the CEO of Comme Des Garçons. "Without them, there is no shopping experience. Their diversity, hard work and imaginations as well as their collective and individual visions are the very epitome of DSM."
"Dover Street Market is uncompromising and visionary. We take risks other stores are not prepared to take." Rich Windsor
Indeed, even at the shoot for this feature, you can't help but feel that the staff are one big happy (and stylish) family. Albeit completely serendipitous, it seems that each person has been perfectly picked to represent a particular element of Dover Street Market: a dapper dan on the ground floor, a girl with an impossibly chic but pared down style on the first... They are all representative of the symbiotic relationship between the people, the products and the place.
When asked what's in store for Dover Street Market for the next ten years and how the brand will continue to innovate, Joffe says, "Even if we knew we wouldn't be able to say. Where would be the surprise in that? But we will be constantly questioning, looking, thinking and dreaming - and never be completely satisfied." So sit back and enjoy DSM's never-ending ride, you never know where it might take you.
Text Lynette Nylander
Photography Harry Carr
Grooming Louis Ghewy at The Book Agency using Bumble and bumble.
Photography assistance Louise Ford.
Grooming assistance Ksenia Galina.