Tonie Ong

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Some of today’s most famous and beloved brands didn’t actually start as fashion labels. A lot of them started in fields that are quite far from the upscale couture market they operate in now. A common precious field is a saddlery, back when horse-drawn carriages were the most common mode of transportation for the wealthy. When automobiles came to be, some companies ventured into that industry as well, all before becoming a luxury fashion brand they’re well-known for today. It’s through the customers of such fields that these companies pivoted into the luxury fashion business. One such brand is Dunhill, one of today’s premier menswear labels.

Today, Dunhill is known for expert tailoring, fine fabrications, and classic styles for menswear. From the most elegant of sportswear to the most refined casual sportswear, Dunhill had mastered giving men the most luxurious wardrobe for their everyday lives. Even though fashion can be so fickle at times, Dunhill had stood their ground and continually offered men a classic selection of suits and separates that evoke a sophisticated yet masculine look. Many believe it may be because of their rich history in both saddlery and automobiles, foundations unique to them as a fashionable menswear brand. With such a foundation, they are able to capture the essence of fine men’s fashion season after season.

Brand reinvention through the years

Dunhill Men's Suits

The company began as a saddlery business and was inherited by Alfred Dunhill from his father in 1893. However, at the time, automobiles were emerging as the new mode of transportation, and Dunhill revolutionized his business to offer accessories for automobiles. He changed the name of the brand and called it Dunhill Motorities. Under this business, they made leather overcoats, driving goggles, and timepieces, among others. It was their first venture into the garment industry and fine luxury pieces, but soon they became known for their motoring attire, and eventually ventured into a full-blown clothes label by the early 20th century.

Throughout the 20th century, the brand grew its reputation as one of the finest menswear labels in the luxury market. They focused on string tailoring and formal and business wear. When ready-to-wear started to dominate the fashion market mid-century, they ventured into separates and sportswear, still, the high quality of their bespoke pieces became prominent . Their retail presence also expanded tenfold, opening 20 stores across the world, in countries such as France, Italy, Hong Kong, and Japan. They’ve even brought over designers like Nick Ashley and Kim Jones to revitalize and put a younger spirit to the brand.

Dunhill in the movies

Because of such fine tailoring and luxurious accessories, Dunhill has been commissioned by the film industry numerous times to make the costumes for their leading men. In fact, a lot of their accessories have been featured in numerous James Bond films, particularly the first ones that featured Sean Connery in the lead role. For the 1962 film Dr. No, the main character held a gunmetal cigarette lighter during his introductory scene. It was by special request of the production team that the particular item from Dunhill is featured early on in the movie. To this day, that cigarette lighter remains to be one of the most famous pieces from Dunhill’s line of accessories, particularly because of 007 himself.

Crafting an entire lifestyle for the upscale gentleman, Dunhill also released a line of fragrances. From parfums to colognes, Dunhill fragrances are sold worldwide and bought by legions of men to smell and feel luxurious. The line used to be the product of a partnership between Dunhill and Procter & Gamble, but the collaboration ended in April 0f 2013. Now, the British brand’s scents are licensed under Inter Parfums, Inc., an American fragrance manufacturer. Among their many fragrances is their iconic “London ‘Icon’ Eau de Parfum” which is bottled by a silver gunmetal that evokes the vintage men’s accessories that made the brand famous in the 20th century.

Celebrity favorites

Alfred Dunhill SS18

The brand doesn’t fear away from the red carpet either. Through the years, Hollywood and various film stars have worn the label on the red carpet and in their multiple films. Some have even worn the brand during their sporting activities, like Samuel L. Jackson and Jamie Dornan when they play golf. On the red carpet, stars like Henry Cavill, Jude Law, and Daniel Radcliffe have all sported Dunhill. In fact, one of the brand’s most iconic red carpet moments was when Daniel Craig wore their suit for the premiere of his hotly-anticipated James Bond film, Casino Royale.

Dunhill has become one of the world’s harbingers of men’s luxury. Their numerous clothes and accessories are some of the most coveted items in the luxury business and have even been featured in a number of high profile films. Such is the power of Dunhill, whose decades-old history reflects the evolution of the gentleman’s taste and love for all the fine things in life.

Dunhill store in Hong Kong.
Dunhill store in Hong Kong. Photo: lentamart

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