Alfred Dunhill – An Iconic British Brand

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Dunhill Luxury Fashion Label

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A History of the Alfred Dunhill Brand

Alfred Dunhill was founded in 1893, by the man himself, when he took over his father’s saddler business and converted it into Dunhill’s Motorities, producing luxury car accessories. In the early 20th century, Alfred Dunhill retired from the Motorities business and moved into the tobacco business. Since then, the brand’s product lines have expanded to include menswear, leather goods, men’s jewellery, writing instruments, timepieces, gifts and games.

In 1993, the Alfred Dunhill brand became a part of Richemont, one of the world’s leading luxury goods groups, whose other brands include Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Piaget, Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC and Montblanc. As a part of the prestigious Richemont Group, the Dunhill brand has undergone further global expansion, and as of 2011, Dunhill had five main retail regions: Europe, Asia Pacific, China, Japan and the United States. The brand has over 220 stores and over 3,500 wholesale points of sale around the world. In addition, the brand has four of the globally acclaimed ‘Homes’ retail lifestyle environments in London, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Dunhill Men's Leather Bags & Accessories

  • 1893: Alfred Dunhill takes over his father’s saddler business and converts it into Dunhill’s Motorities, providing ‘Everything for the car but the motor’.
  • 1903: Alfred Dunhill’s enters the timepiece market with the creation of the brands first dashboard clock.
  • 1905: An innovator in the men’s luxury goods market, Alfred Dunhill patents his Windshield Pipe, which was designed to allow comfortable smoking while driving or cycling.
  • 1907: Alfred Dunhill retires from running the Motorities business and opens a pipe, cigar and tobacco store on Duke Street, London – an area popular with upper class men’s clubs.
  • 1910: An Alfred Dunhill pipe factory opens near the pipe, cigar and tobacco store.
  • 1915: The Alfred Dunhill signature White Spot marking is added to the brand’s pipes.
  • 1921: An Alfred Dunhill standalone store opens in New York.
  • 1924: The brand opens an additional standalone store in Paris.
  • 1927: Further innovation from Alfred Dunhill with the launch of the revolutionary Unique lighter, the first lighter to be operated using just one hand.
  • 1928: In collaboration with the Namiki pen company, Alfred Dunhill begins distributing the maki-e lacquered pens.
  • 1936: The brand’s iconic Facet timepiece, based on Alfred Dunhill’s car head-lamp designs, is launched.
  • 1941: The brand faces a setback when the Duke Street store is bombed during World War II; it was extended and rebuilt in the 1950s.
  • 1940’s-1960: The Dunhill brand goes global with a highly successful expansion operation into New York, Hong Kong, Sydney and Tokyo.
  • 1959: Alfred Dunhill sadly passes away.
  • 1963: The Dunhill branded cigarette is launched
  • 1977: The brand launches its bi-annual menswear collection.
  • 1985: The first annual Alfred Dunhill Cup golf tournament; a team golf tournament for three man teams of professional golfers, one team representing each country.
  • 1993: The Swiss-based, South African luxury goods giant, Richemont, which owns brands from Cartier and Piaget to English gunsmith James Purdey, picks up the Dunhill brand.
  • 1995: Fragrances sold under the Alfred Dunhill brand name are now manufactured and marketed through a licensing agreement with Procter and Gamble Prestige Products division, who gained the license as part of their acquisition of the Wella Corporation.
  • 2000: The Alfred Dunhill Links Golf Championship supersedes Dunhill Cup arising from Dunhill’s sponsorship of the South African PGA Championship between 1995 and 1999.
  • 2001: Former president of Cartier, Simon Critchell, and CEO of Richemont in North America, was put in charge of getting the Dunhill brand back on track after expansion in product lines and markets led to confusion around its brand identity.
  • 2005: Saville Row tailor Richard James, watchmaker Tom Bolt, menswear designer Nick Ashley and leather-smith Bill Amberg are all hired by Alfred Dunhill to help revitalise the brand. Additionally, to help revitalise the image of the brand, actor Jude Law becomes the face of Dunhill menswear.
  • 2008: Alfred Dunhill announces the appointment of menswear designer Kim Jones as Creative Director, a role Alfred Dunhill has not offered before now. Also this year it was announced that Dunhill would be replacing Italian fashion house Brioni, as the tailor of James Bond’s suits for all upcoming movies.
  • 2010: Kim Jones announced that he is stepping down as the Creative Director of Dunhill.
  • 2011: The Dunhill shows on the catwalk of London Fashion Week for the first time.

Dunhill Men's Cologne - Dunhill London

Celebrating Excellence

For the Spring/Summer 2011 season Alfred Dunhill presented a revolutionary advertising campaign, titled “Voice”. The aim of the advertising campaign was to celebrate brilliance in all its forms. Therefore, the casting for the advertising campaign paid no attention to age, look, status or trend, instead focusing simply on achievement. The campaign features a skilled violin player, an artist, an author and a broadcaster and producer, each dressed in an Alfred Dunhill outfit of their own choosing. The ‘Voice’ campaign videos can be viewed on the official Alfred Dunhill website.

Fans of Alfred Dunhill

Dunhill has become one of the best-known global luxury brands with a presence in all the world’s greatest retail cities. The brand is known for its high quality and suitably English style – ever-present in the brand’s menswear and accessories, which include timepieces, leather goods and writing instruments. These principles have gained the Dunhill brand a loyal (and royal) following; the British Royal Family has long been a fan of the luxury brand and is also patronized by members of some of Europe’s ruling houses and a host of Hollywood stars. Previous famous faces to wear the brand include Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Heath Ledger. Today the brand is as popular as ever, with famous clients including Tom Jones, Colin Farrell, Orlando Bloom, Daniel Craig and Jude Law.

Dunhill Voice Campaign - David Frost

The Homes of Alfred Dunhill

The ‘Homes’ of Alfred Dunhill are a perfect example of the brand’s ability to push boundaries, where the most excellent retail experience is further supplemented with a range of considered services from spas and barbers to restaurants and bespoke tailoring. As of 2011, there was four Alfred Dunhill home; London, Tokyo, Shanghai and Hong Kong. The homes not only offer the best in menswear, leather, accessories, gifts and gadgets, but also a range of services offering the ultimate retail experience.

For example, the London ‘Home’ in Bourdon House, formerly the London residence of the Duke of Westminster, offers bespoke tailoring, custom menswear and leather, a spa, traditional gentleman’s barber, a private screening room and even a bar. It some sense, the Dunhill brand is redefining the luxury shopping experience to include more than just good old fashioned customer service.

Dunhill Home - London's Bourdon House

‘Dunhill Home’ – London’s Bourdon House

Dunhill Voice Campaign - Harland Miller

The Future of the Alfred Dunhill Brand

In early 2011, Alfred Dunhill Ltd. revealed its plans to expand its brand presence in the United Arab Emirates. The brand has plans to open stores in Abu Dhabi, and is apparently in “quite advanced talks” with an unnamed Dubai mall operator to open a branch of Dunhill’s food and beverage outlet. So in the future, expect to see further expansion of the Dunhill brand name.

To view the recent collections of Alfred Dunhill visit the official Alfred Dunhill website.

Dunhill Voice Campaign - Charlie Siem

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