Dolce & Gabbana has announced that is dramatically scaling back operations in Japan of its D&G line, which is aimed at the younger fashion market.
They blamed the decision to halt the distribution of the D&G ready-to-wear lines, leather accessories and shoe collections in Japan on the scarcity of available locations for its boutiques and the widespread availability of counterfeit products.
The decision to regroup in Japan comes in the wake of Versace and French Connection UK leaving the market entirely within the last year.
It also underlines the ground-shift in purchasing patterns in Japan, where consumers are increasingly focusing on mid-range clothing lines and other fashion items.
The Dolce & Gabbana announcement came shortly before Fast Retailing Co., the operator of the hugely popular Uniqlo chain of casual clothing shops, announced that it will open its first domestic flagship store in Osaka’s Shinsaibashi retail district on October 1.
And while Dolce & Gabbana have been unable to secure boutique premises for their lines, the new Uniqlo store in Japan’s second city will stock the entire range of products and have a total floor space of 2,650 square meters over four stories.
It will be the company’s fifth global flagship store after outlets in New York, London, Paris and Shanghai.
Dolce & Gabbana and D&G collections were launched in Japan in April 1996 through a distribution agreement with the local firm of Group Misaki Shoji.
A new subsidiary, Dolce & Gabbana Japan KK was set up in August 2001 and, six years later, the company took over all production and distribution of D&G ready-to-wear lines, accessories and shoe collections.
With this organizational change came the proposal for the fashion house to directly distribute its products through stand-alone boutiques and shops-in-shops, the company said in a statement.
Part of an effort to take the D&G brand upmarket, the first boutique was unveiled in 2009. At present, there are 15 across Japan.
In recession-hit Japan, however, the approach has flopped and the boutiques will be closed by January 31, 2011.
“Given the unavailability of ideal locations in Japan, both in terms of space (dimension) and image (positioning of the brand), the group decided to discontinue the distribution of the D&G ready-to-wear, leather accessories and shoe collections,” Dolce & Gabbana said in a statement.
“Furthermore, a careful evaluation of the Japanese market illustrated the difficulty in reaching the repositioning goal due to the widespread availability of counterfeit products which, among other things, have undermined all the actions undertaken to reposition the brand at the highest level of the market.”
D&G fans in Japan need not miss out entirely, however, as the company’s fragrances, eyewear, watches and jewelry collections will still be available at Dolce & Gabbana stores.