Radical Retailer

The Retail Strategy of Rei Kawakubo

Kat Duffy , Karinna Nobbs

Business Case
Source: Bloomsbury Fashion Business Cases
DOI: 10.5040/9781474208796.0043
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Rei Kawakubo and Adrian Joffe have, over the last forty years, created an evolving bricks-and-mortar retail strategy with Comme des Garçons (CdG) and the CdG owned Dover Street Market, reporting annual sales of $280 million. Kawakubo and Joffe have been pioneers, as the first luxury brand to experiment or twist the rules of established retail strategies. From a strategic perspective, successful formats can and do emerge from structured business models. Often, however, winning formats can also materialize from an opportunistic and incremental process, based more on intuition than rational analysis. The CdG brand values fit into this more organic method, with Kawakubo being known for looking at the “anti-”version of what the rest of the market is doing, thereby adopting an anti-establishment approach to their retail strategy. Based on both secondary research and primary research, this case explores the retail strategy of CdG examining the form and function of the brand’s unique approach. The case poses questions for the brand’s future retail development and highlights the unchartered area of digital for the brand.

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