Alfred Dunhill's concept of Homes goes a step beyond the usual luxury-brand store - and hopes to change the way men shop
Words by Jola Chudy in The Lifestyle · Mar 17th, 2014
While all of the world's luxury brands invest heavily to make their stores a perfect setting for their products, Alfred Dunhill is adding a new twist to shopping.
Set in prestigious locations in Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong and London, Dunhill's 'Homes' propose an intriguing concept: alongside the services one would expect from an upscale men's clothing emporium, they feature extras such as a spa, barber, cellar bar and, in Tokyo, even an aquarium. In Dubai, albeit not a fully-fledged Home, the idea takes the form of a boutique attached to a fine dining restaurant, bar and cigar lounge.
It's widely held that gentlemen approach the business of buying clothes rather differently from the fairer sex. Women browse; men, go with single-minded focus in search of the navy blazer, the black oxfords, or the white dress shirt. To browse is to waste time, to be side-tracked is to be lost. So is Dunhill's concept not fighting the way that men shop?
"We know it works," Dunhill's master tailor Jonathan Payne tells me confidently, as we meet at Alfie's by Dunhill, the restaurant and bar adjoining the boutique in Emirates Towers. This is the third Alfie's globally - the other two are in Shanghai and Hong Kong. In the cigar bar, which emulates a library- cum-sitting room, the music is low, the leather armchairs are expansive and bookcases are filled with leather-bound volumes. You can order food here or move to the main restaurant area, a boldly lit monochrome affair. taking as its departure point the menswear brand's British legacy, the menu is inspired by dishes from the United Kingdom - both contemporary and traditional. it seems the idea of luxury here isn't just about Dunhill's products; it is embodied in the Alfred Dunhill experience.
"We offer a custom tailoring service, which is an extension of our ready-to-wear programme," says Payne, who is in town to oversee its launch. "You can choose the cloth, style, lining and some of the details in the suit..." And then pop next door for a bite to eat.
Adding to the experience, a rather dapper partnership between Dunhill and Jaguar means that VIP customers can be transported to their fittings and dining engagements in Jaguar's elegant black XJ Portfolio model.
The custom-tailoring process begins when customers are measured and some ready-to-wear garments are tried on to give an idea of the finished product - this takes around an hour. "We run through the production so they understand what goes into the making of the suit," says Payne. "It's a lot of craftsmanship, and that cannot be rushed."
"Once people experience the custom tailoring, they rarely go back to ready-to-wear," says Payne. "When things are made to fit you, they move with you, not against you. It feels right."
Just like those leather armchairs you can sink into next door. With fine tailoring, exquisite dining, and a comfortable chair to sink into at the end of it all, Dunhill's idea of home feels right to us.