KAWAKUBO’S REI-VOLUTION IN THE RETAIL MARKET
Leading the Kawakubo Rei-volution, Dover Street Market cuts a unique figure in the fashion retail landscape. In case you missed it, we invite you to walk through this singular building on the corner of Lexington Avenue and East 30th Street. Continuing in the tradition of guerilla stores (pop-up stores launched by Rei Kawakubo in 2004), the multi-brand boutiques double as “experimental laboratories” where creativity drives every aspect of design. Not to mention the rite of initiation: Dover Street Markets do not adapt to us, instead we must adapt to them. Helmed by Rei Kawakubo and Adrian Joffre, her husband and CEO of COMME des GARCONS, the boutiques revolutionize shopping and break all the rules of retail. No merchandizing or consumerism here; instead the brand’s own creative universe governs the aisles of the multi-brand boutique spanning over 22,000 sq. ft.
“I want to create a kind of market where various creators from various fields gather together and encounter each other in an ongoing atmosphere of beautiful chaos: the mixing up and coming together of different kindred souls who all share a strong personal vision,” said the designer.
Across more than seven floors, Dover Street Market allows each brand to stage the atmosphere of its “space,” providing the key to a visual patchwork like none other. From Les Santons de Provence by Jacquemus to the polka dot world of COMME des Garçons Pocket, as well as the colorful tribal world of Michael Costiff or the vintage and floral spirit of Gucci, Dover Street Market New York is one of those boutiques where every space is planned down to the millimeter. Nothing is left to chance: each garment is meticulously placed, while each brand has assembled a collection of the most singular objects to represent its universe. You never know what you are going to find here.
All the merit of the Dover Street Markets lies in their ability to play with each brand’s universe to create a symbiosis. So much more than an architectural or artistic concept, the Dover Street Markets invite us to open our eyes, to move beyond a mainstream vision of fashion, and to look instead to the future of fashion and young designers. Supporting young designers coming up in a saturated market and facing intense competition in securing financial partners has become the watchword at COMME des GARCONS. Under the wing of giants like Rei Kawakubo, Junya Watanabe, Kei Ninomiya, Tao Kurihara, or Fumito Ganryu, some of the protégés have kick started their careers, such as Chitose Abe who launched her brand, Sacai, in 1999.
In due form, Dover Street Market New York includes a separate area dedicated to young designers. In addition, through a biannual event called “New Beginning,” Dover Street Market opens its doors to a selection of brand new talents. Notable past participants include Noir Kei Ninomiya, OAMC, Andrea Jiaipei Lei, Craig Green, and Gosha Rubchinskiy. This year, the nine brands selected to take part include Blue Roses by Edward Meadham, Cottweiler, Delada, Egg, Elena Dawson, Hereu, Martiniano, Rue de Verneuil, and Teija. For the “anti-fashion” dissident, affinity and instinct are the sole criteria driving the composition of a space that champions a brand of fashion that is free, ethical, independent, inventive, and new. Initiates come here to find the future of fashion and take in both the architectural space and the new creations. Far from consumerism, sentiment reigns here.
More than a multi-brand boutique, Dover Street Market is a place for reflection, where the creative universes of each brand live together in perfect synergy. Defying the demands of the media, Rei Kawakubo and her husband, Adrian Joffe, are building a prosperous empire that runs against the fast fashion model. With remarkable serenity, they speak of fashion in the most poetic of terms, calling it “a tsunami” or describing how it “rolls out like the tide, unpredictable.” Either way, Dover Street Market offers a vision of fashion that is meant to endure just as it continues to evolve.
Photos: © Dover Street Market New-York
Written by Lisa Tomasi