Menstylepower could see this coming a mile away. The incredible demand for Men’s Only stores is the direct result of surging sales in the online and concession spaces. It’s plain to see that over the last four or so years, and with the help of menswear blogs and online magazines, Gents globally have gained confidence to shop online for their personal style. We’re thrilled to see this.
The wave of Gentlemen Only Flagships are not only popping up across the globe, they are bigger and better than their female counterparts. Think of a modern day men’s parlor; cafe, barber shop, cigar lounge, valet parking, tailor and personal butler. Dashing!
Designers like Ralph Lauren, Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana and now Jimmy Choo are all leading in the stakes of men’s only retail.
And boy have their set the bar high!
In the D&G men’s only flagship just opened on Bond Street, London – a glamorous Kate Moss stares lasciviously from a framed photograph on the wall, while chairs upholstered in rich brocade evoke an 18th-century Italian salon. One floor below, an antique glass cabinet contains a briefcase made out of black crocodile skin and a tasteful picture of a bare-breasted beauty nicked from a vintage copy of Playboy.
Attesting to the importance of the new store, the designers were personally involved in sourcing the furniture, including blue-chip pieces from their own private collection. They have purposefully added a British touch; like for example there are two portraits of Prince William and Kate [Middleton] over the fireplace and two armchairs covered in the typical British flowery fabric.
The new Dolce & Gabbana store, the brand’s fourth in London, is part of a wave of men’s only flagships being opened by luxury brands the world over, as the fast-growing and underserved luxury menswear market continues to outperform the women’s market.
Back in 2010, Hermès opened a men’s only store in New York. But the trend has really gathered steam in recent months. In February, Lanvin quietly opened an exclusive men’s store on New York’s Madison Avenue, while earlier this month, Ralph Lauren unveiled a 10,000-square-foot men’s only flagship in Hong Kong that could easily pass for the home of Jay Gatsby.
In Milan, earlier this week, Tod’s launched a luxurious, club-like ‘Sartorial’ floor dedicated exclusively to men at its Via Spiga flagship. And in the same city’s Brera district, Gucci has just unveiled a men’s only flagship, featuring a dedicated area for the brand’s made-to-measure line. Dolce & Gabbana is planning to launch further men’s stores in Amsterdam and New York.
Meanwhile, back in London, Jimmy Choo, which plans to open a men’s only store in Shanghai in 2014, has relocated its London men’s store to a larger space on Dover Street, a move that was fueled by growing consumer demand. Following the success of Jimmy Choo’s first men’s store, the store was relocated in May to a larger site on Dover Street to showcase the growing collection for men across shoes, bags, belts, scarves and small leather goods. This stunning flagship is a distinct destination for the male customer, featuring a bespoke bar and a series of exclusive events.
Indeed, many of these new men’s-focused flagships offer a rich sensory and leisure-inflected experience that feels more like being at a residence or a club than a store. Bars and cafés are often important components of the experience. Dolce & Gabbana’s new Bond Street store even has a traditional barber on site and offers clients sumptuous robes and slippers to wear.
The Sartorial floor at Tod’s Via Spiga store in Milan is a complete lifestyle experience. Its warm and cosy atmosphere is reminiscent of an exclusive and modern club where it’s possible to enjoy exquisite whisky blends in total relaxation, while spending time with friends.
At least since the days of Beau Brummell, England has been something of a cradle of men’s fashion. And perhaps it’s no surprise that many of new men’s flagships springing up around the world are influenced by the kind of quintessentially British gentlemen’s club that Dunhill has perfected at Bourdon House, a Georgian mansion in London’s Mayfair — once the Duke of Westminster’s residence — that houses a barber, spa, screening room, bar and lounge.
But mere luxury stage sets, these are not.
Beyond the designer collections of the finest attire, Dunhill have exceptional staff whose service to the customer is paramount. They know their favourite coffee or their most preferred blend of whisky. They know what tailoring block they wear and their personal interests. This time around, you’re not worried about someone having so much data on you, because you know it’s being used to your pleasure.