DSM is a retail arm of the Tokyo fashion house, Comme des Garçons, which Kawakubo founded in 1969. The label became popular around the world after its 1981 show in Paris, where its profuse use of black and distressed fabric stood out.
The first of the three DSM branches opened on Dover Street in Mayfair in 2004, followed by Tokyo in 2006 and New York in 2013. Dover Street was a world away from the luxury of nearby Bond Street, with the company having a reputation for setting up in unexpected locations, bringing them to life as other retailers subsequently flood in. With poured concrete, bare ceilings, and eclectic fittings, DSM introduced a famously industrial, anti-luxury aesthetic to the retail scene.
The sheer radicalism of the store meant a slow first few years, but it gradually built a cult following thanks to its uniquely egalitarian approach to fashion, mixing high and low-end brands. Joffe has described the ethos as ‘beautiful chaos’, with street and casual wear found alongside eclectic, creative designs and classic pieces in a ‘visually exciting synergy of visions all put together’.
The store has produced a sequence of exclusive collaborations with some of the biggest names in fashion, from Gucci to Vans, while collaborations with the likes of the Frieze Art Fair and ICA have filled the store with art. Individual brands are invited to design their own spaces, leading to a mishmash of highly stylized, artful, compartmentalised spaces, making DSM truly a market, rather than homogenised department store. Twice a year the store undergoes ‘tachiagri’ (or new beginnings), closing completely for a few days in which the entire space is reimagined.
Throughout its history, DSM’s window displays have become iconic, hosting collaborations from a range of artists and designers. In 2008, graphic designer Jamie Reid of Sex Pistols fame covered the building’s exterior in posters, while rising star Phoebe English created a giant, woven ship for the store’s 10th anniversary.
In March this year, DSM upped sticks and relocated to Haymarket, where it is now housed inside of the original Burberry building, tripling its retail space.
Monday to Friday 11am – 7pm, Sunday 12pm – 6pm