Duchamp is a great British success story. Celebrating its 24th anniversary in 2013, the company traces its origins to France and the chance discovery by the founder of a cache of 10,000 vintage cufflinks in a Paris flea market back in 1987. This led two years later to the launch of a London-based luxury goods business concentrating on mens accessories. Appropriately enough, the founder was reading a book about Dadaism at the time, and decided to name the new company after the French surrealist artist Marcel Duchamp.
The early collections were rapidly snapped up by the likes of Selfridges, Harrods and Harvey Nichols and three years later Duchamp launched its silk tie collection. This was rapidly followed by the woven silk eveningwear collection.
By 1998 Duchamp had opened its first stand-alone store in Ledbury Road in London’s Notting Hill, heralding the next phase of the company’s expansion. To help in this, in 2001 the founder approached Marc Psarolis, then working for Mulberry, to join Duchamp as Sales Director. “By January 2002 I was in Florence at Pitti Uomo selling the first Duchamp shirt collection and we were ready to turn Duchamp into Britain’s leading men’s accessory brand,” says Psarolis.
Despite the name, the ‘Britishness’ of the brand was a given from the word go and continues to be one of Duchamp’s greatest strengths. The same craftsman in Birmingham has produced the cufflinks since the company was founded, while all of the ties are handmade in England. The fabric is woven in England by a Suffolk based company that dates back to the early 1700s and is one of the oldest still designing and weaving silk in the UK.
The next few years saw the company grow further and expand its range, until in 2006 the founder decided he wanted to pursue other interests and Marc Psarolis put together an MBO to become CEO of Duchamp. The brand was now ready to be taken to the next level. At the same time, his wife Alison joined the company as Design Director and Duchamp opened its flagship store on London’s Regent Street, which was awarded the “Best Small Store Design” at the Retail Interior awards the following year. Designers Four IV who created the store concept were well known to Psarolis since his days at Mulberry, also create stores for Harvey Nichols worldwide from Edinburgh to Ankara.
Now there are two stores in London - Westfield White City and a boutique store on Jermyn Street. Duchamp is also carried in the world’s most prestigious department stores, including Bloomingdales in the USA, Barneys in Japan, Holt Renfrew in Canada and David Jones in Australia.. But by far the biggest investment has been in design. The company has gone on to launch leather goods, swimwear and underwear and in 2009 thanks to customer demand, jackets were introduced. With the launch of its range of ready-to-wear tailoring in Spring 2011, Duchamp legitimately laid claim to be a head-to-toe, socks-to-scarves menswear designer brand. “The past 18 months have been the most exciting in our history,” says Psarolis. “The collection is going from strength to strength despite the fragile economy. There has never been a dull moment.” But then Duchamp can never be accused of being dull. “The DNA of the brand is colour,” says Psarolis. “Menswear can be so boring but we’re having fun with beautiful shirts and ties. It’s what our customers want from us.”
Although Duchamp now offers everything from trench coats to trousers, the core of the collection is very much occasion wear for men who love dressing up, with velvet tuxedos and evening dress shirts for events from big nights out to a day at the races. The brand has proved to be a huge hit with the wedding market...after all Duchamp is all about the feel-good factor, and what could be more important than feeling good on your biggest day?