Alfred Dunhill Limited, or Dunhill as it is more commonly known and marketed, is a British brand owned by Richemont Holdings Limited and managed by the Chief Executive Officer Andrew Maag. The brand specialises in the sale of ready to wear, as well as bespoke, menswear including leather goods and accessories. The headquarters are in London along with its leather workshop.
The history of the brand and how it all began
The story of Alfred Dunhill Limited began back in 1893, when, at age 21, Alfred inherited the family’s saddlery business from his father. The saddlery was based on London’s Euston Road. Deciding to take the business in a new, more modern, direction Alfred produced a collection of automobile accessories for ‘everything but the motor’ – a term which would soon become the company’s strapline. The collection of products included car horns, leather overcoats and picnic sets.
The business, Dunhill Motorities’ soon grew and became a success which meant Alfred was able to open two new stores in the Mayfair area of London.
Alfred was quite the innovator and created several original products: The first device developed was in 1904 and was designed to help a driver smoke whilst driving, this was patented as a ‘Windshield Pipe’. The second product was a lighter that was able to be used with just one hand.
By 1907 Alfred decided to open his first tobacco and pipe shop, this business development was followed up three years later by the opening of a pipe factory. The brand’s pipes were easily recognisable with their ‘White Spot’ which was also to become trademarked. This venture became extremely successful and Alfred began several business partnerships with Cuban cigar manufacturers selling hard to find cigar brands. Eventually the company opened two further tobacco stores firstly in the city of New York and then three years later a store in France’s capital city, Paris.
By 1950 the company had created a Rollagas butane lighter and a special edition of this lighter was created in gunmetal. This was commissioned especially for use by Sean Connery who was to star as James Bond in the James Bond film ‘Dr. No.’ This was the start of a long term relationship between the brand and the James Bond film series.
The company also began to manufacture its own brand of cigarettes with production starting in 1963.
Many golf fans are familiar with the renowned golf tournament ‘The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship’, where the worlds best, professional golfers compete against celebrities. This tournament was first launched by the business in 1985.
Moving forward and revitalisation
Alfred retired in the 1920’s however ensured the business remained in the family by appointing his brother Alfred-Henry as the Managing Director and president, to be then passed on to his daughter Mary and eventually on to his grandson Richard.
A team of new designers were brought into the business in 2005 to help revitalise and refresh the brand’s clothing and accessories range. Three years later the role of Creative Director was created and taken on by Kim Jones. Actor Jude Law was also hired as the face of the brand.
The launch of indulgent ‘Homes’
Being committed to male indulgence, in 2008 the company launched ‘The Homes of Alfred Dunhill’, the London home, ‘Bourdon House’ is based in the heart of the prestigious area of Mayfair and was formerly the home of the Duke of Westminster. The company have also launched homes in the cities of Tokyo, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
Set over three floors the homes aim to be a one stop shop luxuriously catering for the modern man. In London, the first floor features the company’s line of menswear and leatherwear as well as accessories. Moving up to the second floor you will find the custom made items along with a gentleman’s barber and a relaxing spa area. The basement consists of a lounge area complete with cigar keeps and a private cinema.
Like many designer fashion brands, the company created a fragrance range which are designed and targeted at the male luxury customer. The Dunhill fragrance collection offers “Sensuous compelling aftershaves and eau de toilettes from our century, signature and icon lines” The brand claims its signature fragrance line is inspired by travel and adventures. It’s first male fragrance called Dunhill for Men was produced and sold in 1934 and it was not until 2001 that the company produced its first and only (to date) female fragrance called ‘Desire’.