Alfred Dunhill

Founded by Alfred Dunhill in 1893

Designer Biography Alfred Dunhill

Credits & copyrights: Courtesy of Dunhill

Alfred Dunhill inherited his father’s saddler business in 1893. Realising the growing demand and business for automobiles and the lack of accessories provided, Dunhill saw the increased opportunities ahead and started producing accessories for vehicles.

A creative entrepreneur, Dunhill changed the business, renaming it ‘Dunhill Motorities’ and came up with a new marketing slogan; ‘everything but the motor’.

Already offering car horns, overcoats, goggles, lamps and picnic sets Dunhill added watches and clocks to the business in 1903. In 1905 Dunhill patented a Windshield Pipe, a product that made smoking while driving or cycling easier and more comfortable.

Highly innovative, in 1907 Dunhill invented the articulation of the rear view mirror. That same year Dunhill explored his other interests, opening a pipe and tobacco store in London. Three years later, Dunhill opened a pipe factory near to the shop.

Dunhill started numerous partnerships with Cuban cigar manufacturers selling exclusive and hard to find cigar brands. With the success of his London store growing Dunhill expanded opening shops in New York in 1921, this was followed with a shop in Paris three years later.

In 1927 Dunhill created the Unique lighter. Revolutionary at the time, it was the first lighter to be operated with one hand. Three years later, Clement Court, the manager of the Paris store, travelled to Tokyo to sign an agreement giving Dunhill worldwide distribution rights for the exquisite Namiki pens, regarded as one of the world’s most prestigious writing equipment.

The 1930s saw the expansion of Dunhill timepieces. The first full collection created in 1936 went onto see the Facet watch and the Key Watch.

In 1941 Dunhill’s London tobacco shop was bombed during World War II. The shop wasn’t rebuilt until the 1950s which saw Dunhill’s expansion into America, with shops opening in Beverly Hills, Chicago and San Francisco from 1951 – 1961.

In 1962 the production team for James Bond requested a gunmetal cigarette lighter for Sean Connery’s introduction of the film. This started a long-term association between the film series and the brand. The following year Dunhill launched their own brand of cigarettes.

In 1967 Carreras bought a 51% stake in the business and by the late 1970s, Dunhill was operating world wide in over 20 stores.

The business became involved with sport sponsorship in 1985 launching the first annual Alfred Dunhill Cup golf tournament. Now known as the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, world leading, professional golfers’ compete against celebrities.

In 1998 the company joined The Richemont Group, home to some of the world’s finest luxury brands.

In 2005 a group of new designers were hired to revitalise the historic brand. Richard James, Tom Bolt, Nick Ashley and Bill Amberg all helped refresh the clothing and accessories. Three years later Kim Jones was appointed as Creative Director whose role had never been before offered.

Further expansion followed that year with a store opening in Moscow and a venture agreement giving Alfred Dunhill control of 24 retail stores in china. The year also saw Jude Law hired as the face of the brand.

The company now has four Dunhill ‘homes’ in London, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo. Each ‘home’ caters to the modern gentleman’s needs offering Dunhill products including menswear, leatherwear, accessories and gadgets. Spas, screen rooms, barbers and bars are also available.

In 2012, the brand collaborated with renowned automobile manufacturer Bentley, introducing a collection that captured the essence of both brands’ commitment to luxury and performance.

Since its launch in 1893 the Dunhill label has been associated with English luxury. A company that is known for its rich heritage, Dunhill offers innovative, masculine products for an international customer.

Alfred Dunhill was known for his constant innovation and creativity. Dedicating himself to creating the finest products, Alfred Dunhill helped create the functionality and style of Dunhill without rival.

Alfred Dunhill Biography

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Written by Saxony Dudbridge

Saxony Dudbridge was one of the first contributors to the Catwalk Yourself project, Saxony studies International Fashion Marketing and she is responsible for our great History and Designers Biographies sections.

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