All You Need to Know about Dover Street Market | Grailify
All You Need to Know about Dover Street Market

All You Need to Know about Dover Street Market

The old Burberry building in Haymarket, London is now the headquarters of Dover Street Market London. On those five floors, high-quality fashion from fashion houses and up-and-coming designers from all over the world are offered.

But, the shopping experience is not dull and boring at all as with many other shops. Everything here is more experimental and artistic. On the second floor, you are greeted by a giant black metal dinosaur while elsewhere is a whole dinosaur patrol that takes care of everything about "peace and order".

To ensure that the shopping experience at the DSM remains exciting, the shops are closed twice a year for a few days and completely rebuilt. This is in preparation for the "new beginning". And, indeed it is. The shops are often almost unrecognisable after this transformation and are therefore perfectly prepared for the new season.

Rei Kawakubo & Adrian Joffe 
The shop is run by well-known fashion personalities Adrian Joffe and Rei Kawakubo. Both are in fact also the heads of Comme des Garçons. And, with Dover Street Market, they have gone far away from the conventional store design. Adrian Joffe once said in an interview that although we are in the age of online shopping, the experience online is nowhere near what you can experience at DSM.

The Creative Minds of Dover Street Market

Of course, it takes a lot of experience in the fashion business to get something like this off the ground, and who better to serve this than the founder of Comme des Garçons, Rei Kawakubo. Rei was born in Tokyo in 1942 and studied art at Keiō University.

After her studies, she worked in the advertising department of a chemical company. But, three years later, she started her own business as a freelance stylist. At the time, this was considered a break with tradition in Japan.

In 1969, she started designing fashion under the label Comme des Garçons, translated in English, "like boys". At that time, she disliked the Japanese fashion of the '60s and '70s, so she started to design her own clothes. Four years later, she officially founded a company with the same name. Today, she sells high-priced accessories, perfume, and pret-à-porter clothing under her own brand.

In 1981, Rei presented her first show on the Paris catwalk and one year later, she opened her first store outside Japan—in Paris. Over time, Comme des Garçons has grown into something very big, internationally recognised by many designers and seen as an inspiration.

Rei likes to exercise influence on all aspects of the business. Not only is she a designer, but she is also responsible for marketing and shop design, because according to her, all these things are inextricably linked.

Rei Kawakubo 
When she opened the first Dover Street Market in London in 2004, she was looking back on almost forty years of experience. This wealth of experience and her view of fashion creation has helped her turn Dover Street Market into something truly special.

However, although Rei likes to work alone and has been running Comme des Garçons almost by herself for as long as she can remember, she has eventually teamed up with someone at Dover Street Market. This someone is Adrian Joffe, her husband and an important part of Comme des Garçons.

Part 2 of Dover Street Market - Adrian Joffe

Adrian Joffe, born in South Africa in 1953, is the head of the international department of Comme des Garçons and so much more. Among other things, he is also a translator and the most significant mouthpiece for Rei Kawakubo. Originally, however, he is a linguist who studied Japanese and Tibetan.

Adrian Joffe 
The collaboration between Adrian and Rei began with a licensing deal with his sister. Adrian was in Tokyo back then to work out the deal for his sister's company when he saw Rei and her rapidly growing empire.

He saw her walking the dog and was very excited about Comme himself. All the money he earned from his sister's licensing deal was later put into Comme des Garçons' clothes.

A mutual friend of the two then told Adrian in 1987 that there was a vacancy at Comme as commercial manager in Europe and asked if he was interested. He agreed. Afterwards, of course, he had to meet the head of the company, Rei. So that he would not be "frightened" by her, they told him that he should only translate for her. But, the truth was that she had already checked out all along if it would be a good fit. In the end, he got the job and became CEO of Comme in 1992.

Since then, he has helped the brand reach even greater success through his creative business ideas and strategies. Some examples are through his pop-up stores that sold Comme des Garçons stuff from 2004 to 2011 and his licensing deal for the perfume with Puig.

Comme des Garcons Pop Up Shop 
For Rei, it is important to always do things in a new way and not to follow the path that has already been trodden. As a result, Adrian had to come up with creative approaches, because otherwise, the concept of the "new new" would not have worked.

It's exactly this approach—to take new paths as a top priority—that sets Dover Street Market apart from all other fashion stores.

What makes Dover Street Market so special?

Dover Street Market is often referred to as one of the first concept stores. These are stores that are a mixture of department store and boutique in concept and have an unusual mix of product ranges. Most of the time, they also focus on a specific target group.

In an interview, Joffe was asked what this description means to him:

"I don't think we are what you would call a concept store anymore. This term is no longer relevant. Just like the word luxury, it has lost all its meaning. At the new DSM in Haymarket, we simply want to try and make the retail experience stimulating and modern. The relationships between us and the brands we share our space with are the main focus, as are the relationships between our employees and customers."

Haymarket Dover Street Market London 
In fact, Dover Street Market is built on a distinctive shopping experience. Nothing here is set in stone and predetermined, as is perhaps the case with fashion houses like H&M. The important thing is that it is new and keeps the above relationships in focus.

Rei designs the shop spaces herself to give each brand an individual feel and also invites artists to create their artwork for the shops. The shops also stand out from traditional expensive fashion houses in that they do not place so much emphasis on an expensive look. The walls are raw concrete, the ceilings are naked without frills, and in general, the whole thing has an industrial look.

DSM sells everything from Comme des Garçons, Gucci, LOEWE, Nike, Balenciaga, Stussy, Raf Simons, and Junya Watanabe. It is a place where old and established designers meet young artists and where streetwear collides with luxury. It is definitely a new shopping experience that focuses on the art behind the fashion.

Dover Street Market 

Dover Street Market New York, Singapore, Tokyo

There are now six locations where DSM has set up shops. The main location is in London and other branches are located in New York City, Singapore, Beijing, Los Angeles, and Tokyo. Although all shops have a similar range of products, there are special collections or articles that are only intended for the shops in one country. For example, DSM Singapore had exclusive T-shirts and jute bags that were only available there.

Additionally, the designs of the shops are all different. For example, the Dover Street Market building in Beijing is a single glass box while the shop in New York City is an old Jewish school that now houses fashion and art on all seven floors.

The main building of London used to be located on Dover Street. This is where the name "Dover Street Market" comes from. In the meantime, however, that same DSM shop has already moved to the old Burberry building on Haymarket Street since March 2016.

DSM x Nike Sneaker

Dover Street Market likes to work with other artists and fashion houses and as mentioned above, they value their relationship with each artist. It is not for nothing that they have an individually designed space in their stores for each brand.

DSM x Nike Air Force 1 2008 
Of course, there are also DSM shoe collabs with other brands, and who wouldn't dare miss that? That’s Nike for sure. The collaboration with Nike was also the first sneaker collab by DSM in 2008, resulting in the Dover Street Market x Air Force 1 Low. The silhouette was an Air Force 1 in the low-top version in a white colourway.

Dover Street Market x Air Jordan 1 Retro 
In 2015, a Jordan release followed—the Dover Street Market x Air Jordan 1 Retro. The silhouette was the classic Air Jordan 1 in an obsidian colourway. The sneaker was then sold for a retail price of $185.

Barely a month later, the next sneaker in cooperation with Nike followed—the Dover Street Market x Nike Dunk Lux High. This one came in the market in the colourways white and black.

Dover Street Market x NikeLab Roshe Daybreak 
The following year, the Dover Street Market x NikeLab Roshe Daybreak came in an all-black style. This shoe originally dropped when the London store opened in the new building in Haymarket. As with other sneakers in this collaboration, a DSM logo adorns the inside sole of the shoe.

Another DSM x Nike drop then followed last year. This was the DSM x NikeLab Air Max 1 Valve in three colourways: Navy, Black, and White.

Dover Street Market x Ronnie Fieg and Co.

DSM has also had sneaker collabs with other brands over the years. The same is true with Ronnie Fieg, with whom they have come up with two sneakers. The first one was the Dover Street Market x Puma XT-2 Ronnie Fieg "Achromatic White" and "Achromatic Black". The shoes were made with the best premium materials Ronnie could find and even the shoe box in which the shoes were shipped was covered with leather dust.

Dover Street Market x Puma XT-2 Ronnie Fieg “Achromatic Black”
Dover Street Market x Puma XT-2 Ronnie Fieg “Achromatic White” 
The second sneaker was the DSM x New Balance 574 Sport Ronnie Fieg, which was released in three colourways. The three colourways were Navy, Grey, and Triple Black. Compared to the classic 574, the shoe has a better midsole and an additional mesh in the inner shoe.

DSM x New Balance 574 Sport Ronnie Fieg 
In 2016, Dover Street Market teamed up with Vetements and Reebok to release a special sneaker—the Vetements x Reebok Pump Supreme in Grey. The shoes each had an "L" and "R" on them to indicate which shoe belongs on which foot. And, unlike the previous non-exclusive release, the Reebok and Vetements logos are done in white instead of black.

Of course, no mention of sneaker collaborations would be perfect without referring to the "Dad Shoe". It is so named because it looks like a shoe that only dads would wear. The DSM x Balenciaga Triple S is an exclusive colourway of the Triple S in white and cream with yellow accents on the sides.

DSM x Balenciaga Triple S 
Also worth mentioning are the Chuck and Vans collaborations of DSM. On the one hand, there are the chessboard editions of the Old Skool and Sk8-Hi Vans, which were launched in 2018. On the other hand, there are the DSM-exclusive versions of the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star 70s Ox in White and the Converse One Star Canvas Ox in White and Navy.

Dover Street Market x Other Artists

Dover Street Market is so multi-faceted that it would be very one-sided if only the sneaker collaborations were mentioned. In fact, DSM has had collaborations in all sorts of areas, from clothing to books, and has also supported numerous artists.

DSM x Idea Books 
For one thing, there’s the London-based company Idea Books. They specialise in selling old fashion, architecture, photography, and design books that are no longer printed at the DSM shops. To coincide with the opening of an Idea Books shop at DSM New York, Idea Books has made two books available for sale through Comme des Garçons. They bear the name, "Comme des Garçons 1975 - 1982".

DSM is also a great supporter of Gosha Rubchinskiy. Adrian Joffe and Gosha Rubchinskiy once met each other at a dinner, and since then, Dover Street Market has been selling the stuff for Gosha's label.


Dover Street Market has done what is not considered possible in the time of Amazon and Zalando. It is an exceptional shop that invites people to a special kind of shopping experience, where the individuality of the different artists and brands is emphasized.

DSM sets a good example of how customer relations and business relationships should be managed and the extent of the value that should be placed on both. It is also a great advertisement for the parent company Comme des Garçons.

If Dover Street Market continues like this, we will be seeing a few more years of "new new" and even more novel surprises at the DSM stores every six months.

What will Dover Street Market offer in 2020?

Dover Street Market starts the new year with a new number of special collections. These include, in particular, the large collection of Kiko Kostadinov x Asics. With special prints and unique pastel colours on jackets, trousers, and other apparel, they will certainly highlight your fashionable look.

pics by Dover Street Market 
But, one individual piece stands out the most from the large collection—a unique Asics x Kiko Kostadinov GEL-KIRIL that makes your style complete. A white base and green leather overlays with FlyteFoam sole is at the heart of this collection. The side parts are in fact the most striking. The tiled checkerboard pattern with slight bevels completes the collection of Kiko Kostadinov and Asics. On February 8th, you can find the collection at DSM and on their e-shop.

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