Retail Focus — Dover Street Market Singapore

ORDRE takes a look at the magic behind concept store pioneer Dover Street Market and its latest expansion to Singapore's Dempsey Hill

One of the most thriving multi-concept stores today, Dover Street Market is a well blended concoction of fashion, art, retail design and ingenuity. It’s clever creative strategy cements its reputation as a fashion institution - an immersive, experiential setting where customers are encouraged to play, interact and indulge their sense of discovery.

Starting out as the brainchild of legendary fashion authority and founder of Comme Des Garcons, Rei Kawakubo, the original cropped up in 2004 on London’s Dover Street in Mayfair, with three other locations following suit; Tokyo in 2006, Beijing in 2011 and New York in 2013.

Their latest outpost, the fifth international installment of the original, can be found on Dempsey Hill in Singapore, which was newly opened in July of this year. DSM’s newest home is a low-rise colonial bungalow that used to be an old army barracks and spans a vast 12,325-square-foot space.

From the outside it’s unassuming, unimpressive even - a building you wouldn’t necessarily equate to progressive fashion and cult designer labels. But perhaps this humble, enigmatic outer shell is to add to DSM’s overall intrigue and originality. Step inside the demure building and you are transported to a different dimension. Boasting 10m high ceilings - the highest ever seen in any Comme des Garçons or DSM store - with special lighting design by Thierry Dreyfus and an original soundscape by Calx Vive, it is a retreat for savvy, creative shoppers and a haven for those seeking to step outside of the ordinary fashion stratosphere.  

While experiential shopping is quickly becoming the go-to approach for stores looking to triumph in volatile retail environments, more than a decade ago, Kawakubo understood the potential for offering customers a unique experience in a brick-and-mortar store - an experience that couldn’t ever be provided online or anywhere else. Now more relevant than ever and keeping this concept at the core of the DSM brand worldwide, their point of difference is akin to a fashion wonderland. A highly curated mix of ready-to-wear and accessories designers - each possessing a strong creative vision - present the best of their collections in one-of-a-kind pop-up booths within the stores themselves. These installations, each with their own style and theme, continually change and rotate with new labels each season, resulting in an evolving space with shape shifting character. It keeps the entire space just as dynamic and fresh as the changing seasons and designers it houses.

Shoppers are free to quench their curiosities between the assortment of surroundings, from established labels including Balenciaga, Gucci, Loewe, Celine and Raf Simons, to streetwear authorities such as Vetements, Sacai and Facetasm, to cult trailblazers such as Jacquemus, JW Anderson and Gosha Rubchinskiy. And then there are a whole host of fresher emerging labels such as Marine Serre, Molly Goddard, Phoebe English, Shrimps, ShuShu/Tong and Wales Bonner. Other than the changing pop-ups, Kawakubo herself oversees everything visual including designing all the Comme Des Garçons spaces and shared areas where creators encounter one another.

Having built such a strong reputation over the years working with the finest edit of luxury houses and streetwear brands, DSM is a collector’s dream, featuring limited edition merchandise, capsule collections and collaboration items exclusive to the store. DSM Singapore collaborations include Gosha Rubchinskiy x DSMS T-shirts, PEACEMINUSONE x DSMS special items and Vans x Anti Social Social Club x DSMS sneaker line, with many more sure to come.

A stimulating retail experience that continues to challenge traditional business models and where conventional rules of shopping are ignored, its narrative is less like that of a fashion store and more like a community for like-minded people. DSM is redefining retail’s landscape and what it means to shop today; a destination that is living, breathing and growing, where customers can always expect to return to something new.