An insight into Dubai's latest streetwear hotspot
As an established concept menswear store based in Brewer Street, London, Closet Case have been successfully stocking exclusive European, Japanese, and Asian designer fashion brands for the fashion conscious fella over the last fifteen years.
With the recent opening of their concept store in Dubai Design District being the first of its kind in the UAE, Closet Case Dubai intends to focus on providing a truly unique range of menswear, curated by renowned as well as emerging designers from all over the world, to the Middle East. With big-name brands such as Rick Owens, Yohji Yamamoto, Ann Demeulemeester (we didn’t lie about the big names), Damir Doma, Haider Ackermann, and Juun J on board, the Closet Case concept offers a varied curation of the fashion world’s cutting edge.
Esquire Middle East recently spoke to Closet Case Dubai's Founder and Creative Director Bobby Chehrazi to discuss the store’s recent expansion in the UAE.
ESQ: So what made you first want to open up in Dubai?
After a number of market studies we’d done, we found out that we’ve always had a lot of Middle Eastern fashion-savvy clients. So we started to explore the region further and decided to open up in Dubai as it seemed to be arguably the most cosmopolitan of all the GCC.
Can you tell us a bit about the history of Closet Case and your own background?
Closet Case was established 25 years ago in London and has been a prime destination for fashion ever since. The unique matrix of brands and hand-picked goods that we have from a range of renowned designers and smaller design houses is what makes up the DNA of our brand. And it’s that same ethos which we’ve shifted over to here in Dubai as well.
In terms of my background I’ve had an interest in fashion since the early 80’s, and I’ve thankfully been able to turn this passion into a business that I’m very pleased about. Being in the industry for so long I’ve managed to create a successful relationship and rapport with today’s established designers – mainly because they were the very same ‘upcoming’ talents I worked with back in the day!
Take us through a typical day in your role at Closet Case
My day tends to start very early in the morning with meetings and answering all my mail. After that I analyze the previous day’s reports whilst keeping an eye out for new talents and the latest updates about the fashion industry. On a daily basis, I’m also in touch with all the managers of our stores and at the same time I’ll be discussing with our designers about their upcoming collections and new projects.
How does the Dubai customer differ to your London customer?
The Dubai client is obviously newer to the market, but at the same time he’s just as fashion savvy. They are however a little bit more difficult in comparison to our London clients as they are less willing to try new things. Dubai clients do still have their own individual style though, which I love, and that’s something really reflected in their day-to-day lives.
What brands are your current favourites and which have had the biggest resonance with the market here?
My all-time favourite would be Yohji Yamamoto. Not only is it effortlessly edgy but it’s timeless at the same time. I also appreciate the work of Rick Owens and what he’s done for the fashion business over the last 10 years or so. He’s really shaped a new direction of style. We’re personally really excited to introduce KTZ to this market as it’s a brand that’s been redefining streetwear in the UK for years. If we’d go into a specific direction, one not just associated with brands, it’d have to be into the streetwear scene as this seems to be the dominant aesthetic of our current day and age. Now it’s pretty normal, or even ‘cool’, to combine things like suits with sneakers. That was something frowned upon only a few years back.
Do you have any exclusive brands?
All our brands are exclusive to us in this city, and we intend to work with brands to keep it that way. We provide a truly personalized experience that offers both a knowledge and an explanation about our products to ensure that the experience you get at Closet Case is one you won’t find anywhere else in Dubai.
How do you see the Closet Case brand growing over the next two years?
As we’re the first concept store with these brands in this market, we can foresee a slow but steady growth. We might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but we cater to the sort of individuals who will deliberately seek us out. Ultimately, we’re aiming to create the region’s leading shopping destination. So it’s needless to say we’ve got a lot coming up in the pipeline!
You also stock a range of lifestyle brands, are these a favourite with the consumers?
Absolutely! Our lifestyle products are very popular and something we’re really proud of. A major reason for that is they’re all entirely unique - everything from the scents to the room fragrances and jewellery. They are produced by artisans from across the globe using meticulous techniques, often handcrafted from the very first steps of production to the finishing touches of the individual packaging.
What do you think you bring to the Middle Eastern fashion scene?
We bring a novel experience and a reinvented way of shopping. It really is all about the experience here. At ‘Closet Case’ we don’t have room for mediocre product, every piece has a story to it. In this day and age, clients are more inclined to find out about what they’re wearing and consuming, and this is where our expert knowledge plays a vital role. At the same time, we’re not overly pretentious about it - we still offer a very relaxed environment for the customer.
Do you think independent stores have a place here, amongst a culture that’s built on Mall shopping?
Very much, but we do still need to work on changing the perception of destination stores. What we are seeing here though is an increased demand for a more personalized shopping experience. The client is looking to go into a store that fits their own lifestyle as opposed to the more cold and corporate approach you see everywhere else. This warmth is exactly what we provide.
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Closet Case Dubai is located in Dubai Design District