TOKYO, Japan - "Welcome home." With those words Jun Morimoto, CEO of Alfred Dunhill in Japan, warmly ushered me into the new Alfred Dunhill flagship in Tokyo's Ginza district, where it rubs shoulders with the impressive architecture of some of the world's most famous luxury brands. But all is not rosy in Tokyo's legendary luxuryland, with reports that sales for some international luxury brands in Japan are down as much as 20% versus last year.
As Morimoto-san showed me around the store, the first of a few Dunhill 'Home' flagships which will be opening around the world, he also demonstrated how brands like Dunhill are leading the way in adapting their stores and product offering to meet the evolving expectations of the Japanese luxury customer.
The first floor of the flagship is home to the Tokyo-outpost of Bentleys, the antique shop from London's Walton Street, where aficionado Tim Bent carefully curates an indulgent collection of Goyard, Louis Vuitton and Hermes antiques. During my visit, many of Tim's finds, some of which cost upwards of $10,000, seemed to have already been snapped up by customers hungry for a taste of luxury of the early 20th century, when trunks were made to exactly to your liking.
Not to be outdone by the past, the Ginza store also offers Dunhill products not available anywhere else in the world, the most spectacular of which is a made-to-spec traditional Japanese kimono, retailing at ¥1.2m (about $11,000), manufactured using traditional Japanese craftsmanship in the Shiga prefecture near Kyoto.
A couple of night before my visit, Dunhill launched the kimono with much fanfare, creating a veritable frenzy in the Japanese press. But this is no PR gimmick. Every last detail has been thought of, from the 6 available colours that can be traced back to Dunhill's founding year in 1893 to the subtle D8 signature made of exquisite Japanese paper. The best feature, however, is the selection of several different motifs which are imprinted on the inside of the haori, or hip-length jacket, creating a kind of secret bling for the wearer alone.
The Dunhill flagship, which is home to the only aboveground bar looking out onto Ginza's bright lights and a barber shop offering indulgent spa treatments, also gives us a taste of what luxury retail environments may feel like in the future as brands strive to build deeper relationships with their customers (and give them more reasons to come into their stores.)
The strategy seems to be working. All three chairs in the barber shop were occupied with just the kinds of young, hip men that brands like Dunhill will need to attract in order to continue their legacy of luxury.
The Dunhill "Home" store in Tokyo's Ginza district.
Bentleys in Dunhill Ginza
The Dunhill Kimono, available only at the Ginza flagship.
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