Dover Street Market: Will it work here?

Como Dempsey will be at blocks 17 and 18 (above) in Dempsey Road. It will house Dover Street Market as well as restaurants.
Como Dempsey will be at blocks 17 and 18 (above) in Dempsey Road. It will house Dover Street Market as well as restaurants.PHOTO: ST FILE

Shoppers welcome the opening of the fashionable multi-label store but say high rental will be a challenge

News that Dover Street Market - the multi-label concept store created by Rei Kawakubo of Japanese fashion brand Comme des Garcons - is coming to Singapore has generated buzz.

Fashion enthusiasts and shopaholics alike have reacted with excitement to the announcement.

The brand is known for its daring composition of street brands and high fashion, as well as its gallery-esque visual displays. It opens in Tanglin Village next year.

Mr David Wang, 52, chairman of the Textile and Fashion Federation (Singapore), says he loves Dover Street Market because of how it works out of the retail box.

"It offers such a fresh and exciting mix of international labels and under-the-radar ones," he says. "It pairs fashion with other creative aspects such as art, lifestyle and personalities. Not to mention its beautiful visual merchandising. That, for me, is upping fashion retail with some much-needed hype."

Dover Street Market opened its first store in London in 2004. It is named after the location, Dover Street, in Mayfair. Stores have also opened in Tokyo (2012) and New York (2013).

The mega-boutique's mix of labels has gained it an almost cult status among fashion fans. From shoes by New Balance to street wear from Supreme to collections from fashion giants such as Valentino and Saint Laurent, the store carries, to use its own words, a "beautiful chaos" of fashion temptation.

The curated store will be a part of Como Dempsey, a complex which will also house restaurants, including one by renowned US restaurateur Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

This new project comes under Como Lifestyle, a subsidiary of Singapore fashion doyenne Christina Ong's Club 21.

The Singapore Land Authority and the Singapore Tourism Board announced earlier this month that the joint tender for blocks 17 and 18 in Dempsey Road had been awarded to Como Lifestyle.

The 5,268 sq m site will also have a new dining concept offering signature dishes from around the world.

Ms Suzanne Lim, 42, a university administrator at Nanyang Technological University, welcomes the new shopping experience and plans to check out Dover Street Market even though she has heard that it is expensive.

"There are too many cookie-cutter malls with the usual brands," she says of the scene here.

"Two of my favourite multi-label stores are Anthropologie and Intermix from the United States, so I'm looking forward to the variety Dover Street Market will bring."

Ms Sandra Cameron, 45, who runs a public relations firm, has been to Dover Street Market in London and says that besides the selection of brands, she is also anticipating the creative visual displays that the store will offer.

"Art installation-like displays, unique visual merchandising - it is always a feast for the eyes," she says.

Mr Ariel Woo, 27, research officer at the Genome Institute of Singapore and a regular at Dempsey, says although he is more interested to see what chef Vongerichten will offer, he thinks it is great that the area is getting an infusion of new tenants.

"It will be interesting, but whether it's going to work out would depend on whether Como can pull off the whole concept space," he says.

Personal stylist Lionnel Lim, who declines to reveal his age, also thinks the store might face challenges. He says: "I love the concept of Dover Street Market, its curation and how the labels constantly evolve, but rental is a killer and it could face challenges with foot traffic at Dempsey, as well as drawing a crowd that understands its aesthetics."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 24, 2015, with the headline 'Dover Street Market: Will it work here?'. Print Edition | Subscribe