Dover Street Market London
Image Courtesy of Dover Street Market
May 8, 2024

A Dover Street Market is Opening in Paris

Dover Street Market is finally opening up a permanent space in Paris, tucked into a 17th-century townhouse in Le Marais.

Dover Street Market — known for its daring retail experiences and art installations — is slated to launch in Paris this May. The store, housed in the former Hôtel de Coulanges, will feature Prada, Balenciaga, Miu Miu, Bottega Veneta, and other up-and-coming designers.

Rei Kawakubo and Adrian Joffe began Dover Street Market after disrupting the retail scene in the mid-’90s with their “guerilla stores” — AKA retail spaces in inconspicuous buildings with people unrelated to fashion running things. In an April Vogue interview, Joffe said of his and Kawakubo’s thoughts on the stores’ conception: “Why don’t we get one of these places really cheap, get somebody who has nothing to do with fashion, and give them all our stock? Because what’s the point of it being in our warehouse when we can give it to somebody to try and sell it?”

The same rule-breaking spirit applied to the 2004 launch of their Dover Street Market venture in London. Now the store is finally coming to Paris, after cropping up in New York, Ginza, L.A., and Beijing. The details, however, are sparse.

Image Courtesy of Dover Street Market

What We Know About Dover Street Market Paris

Both social media and DSM Paris’ website will not uncover clues as to what the space will look like or have in it. It only shows various congratulatory postcards from these brands: ALL-IN Studio, Kiko Kostadinov, Walter Van Beirendonck, Vaquera, Rick Owens, Charles Jeffrey Loverboy, Chopova Lowena, and Doublet. We can only assume that these are clues for which independent designers will be featured when DSM Paris opens, so keep them on your radar, as they are Rei Kawakubo-approved.

As to walking by the building and hoping for a peek, Kawakubo herself has altered the entrance to the 17th-century Marais building so that onlookers cannot see inside — a concept antithetical to traditional retail practices. However, Paris has a history of wanting what it can’t have, like when Antoine-Augustin Parmentier made potatoes fashionable by fencing his garden in. Dover Street Market is fencing in its potatoes — and our mouths are watering.

Joffe has also said they’ll be mixing brands on the floor. In recent years, such mingling has not been commonplace — so much so that even magazine editorials now feature head-to-toe looks per brand contract. In fact, it’s such an industry no-no that only four houses have dared to dance with the unknown: Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Prada, and Miu Miu. It should be noted that the first two are Kering’s holdings and the latter pair are under the Prada umbrella, meaning only two conglomerates have the guts to mix and match.

Beyond these details, Joffe and Kawakubo are tight-lipped on what DSM Paris holds for its fashionable clientele, but one thing is for sure: they will be breaking more molds, brick-and-mortar and e-tail alike. The e-commerce side of DSM Paris will be, as Luke Leitch puts it in his Vogue interview with Joffe: “…almost antithetical to conventional e-tailing.”

Image Courtesy of Dover Street Market

Rethinking Retail

What’s interesting about the venture — its lack of marketing, its mixture of brands on the floor, and its emphasis on the in-person autonomous experience — is that it echoes the old-world way of retail. The constant barrage of retail spaces dedicated to one brand’s concept, of online experiences tweaked to individual tastes, and of the micro-managed way we’re meant to experience stores is, well, exhausting. It’d be nice to wander as you please, be confronted with someone else’s taste on a mannequin or rack, or get a chance to really touch the fabric in a physical store. The outright rejection of newer retail practices at Dover Street Market and some of their return to the “old ways” feels revolutionary, instead of backward. 

Kawakubo and Joffe are selling their ideas, experience, and perspective, in lieu of a brand name or a board of directors’ collective marketing decision. It may not be to your taste, your liking, or for you, but that’s kind of nice, isn’t it? 

Claire Stemen

Claire is a writer based in Seoul but originally from Cleveland, a very decent city. She is a fashion and beauty writer who got her start almost a decade ago at Paris and New York fashion weeks, where she covered shows, designers, and trends. The greatest sadness of her career was when she had to give her seat for the Jacquemus Spring 2017 show to someone else because she wasn't in town. She is also a published fiction writer, which is why she's so dramatic about everything.

Her work seeks to draw out the hidden functions of beauty and fashion—and what that says about culture. She believes the act of dressing oneself goes beyond mere expression and that the act of selecting a sock, earring, or lipstick is rife with meaning. She’s especially interested in the academic definition of “dress”.

Claire wakes up every day excited to experiment with beauty, fashion, and her sense of self. Her black cat Heathcliff wakes up excited to exact vengeance like his namesake in "Wuthering Heights".

If something she wrote made you feel something, you can direct your hot takes, fiery opinions, lukewarm criticism, and otherwise to The Territorie's comment section, her Instagram @claire_stemen, or via email at claire at clairestemen dot com.

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