With an astonishing new London headquarters designed by the interior architect Linda Morey-Burrows and a rollout of store openings around the world, Dunhill CEO Andrew Maag is charged with making sure that the historic house faces these tumultuous times in Britain with confidence.
He started his career as a menswear buyer in New York, then moved on to work for brands such as Banana Republic and Donna Karan before being hired by Burberry, where he, alongside Angela Ahrendts and Christopher Bailey, helped transform the sleepy British label into an international fashion powerhouse.
Two years ago Maag moved to Dunhill, a house with an incredible past: Alfred Dunhill inherited his father’s saddlery business at the age of 21 in 1893 and turned its leather craft towards the glorious age of automobiles in the early 20th century. The CEO promptly hired a new creative director in the form of Mark Weston, who he had worked with at Burberry, going on to relaunch its catwalk shows in Paris and focusing on the marriage of craftsmanship and style.
Here, the American-born businessman explains how lessons he learnt 40 years ago are still relevant today, and why luxury brands should think like restaurants.
To make a heritage brand relevant for a new generation you have to tell its story.
When I joined Dunhill I discovered a beautiful 125-year-old story just waiting to be told. And telling this in a relevant way to a new consumer is still our biggest challenge. If you want to buy a bag you can start by comparing price and quality – but the story of how it was made, of the thought and engineering that went into it is, hopefully, what makes a true luxury brand successful.