Dolce & Gabbana closes D&G stores in Japan

Italian luxury brand Dolce & Gabbana has announced it is closing down all the 15 stores of its D&G line. They blame 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.

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.”

Recently, DOLCE & GABBABANA have been making headlines in the UK where leading London department store Selfridges discountinued the distribution of any Dolce Gabbana products. Apparently the row resulted over the decision of the department store to reposition the selling space dedicated to both Dolce Gabbana and D&G lines.