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Flagship store in Dubai: The Strategic Shift from Digital Success to Brick-and-Mortar

By Partner


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Following on from the success of our digital flagship, the decision-making process to open our first flagship boutique is as much strategic as it is symbolic. Over the past year, we have undertaken market visits in Milan, Paris, London, Barcelona, Las Vegas, and Dubai. In this newsletter, our Chief Business Development and Co-Chief Legal Officer Ghada Qaisi Audi makes the case for why we believe Dubai is the right market in which to locate our first brick-and-mortar retail location.

“We are a made-in-Italy brand, and our production is localized in the famed artisanal leather and shoe-making area outside of Milan. But does it follow that our first boutique must open in Milan or another European/UK city? The answer to that is no, not necessarily. From a business development standpoint, it makes sense to launch our retail operations in Dubai because of its nurturing environment for startups. The UAE boasts a dynamic economy with low corporate taxes and numerous business amenities, not to mention a great retail infrastructure. For us as a startup brand in the luxury personal goods sector, this infrastructure provides all the right ingredients to be our launch-pad!

By no means coincidentally, our largest client base for our e-commerce sales happens to be in Dubai. It is in fact a microcosm of all our loyal customers! So many of our clients live here and have told us they would love to shop here. We are eager to cater to our customers’ needs by having a retail store that becomes a place for experiencing the pampering we aim to provide for our in-store guests. Our clients are ultra-refined and value-savvy- desiring products that withstand the test of time and will hold value in a circular market.


As the 5th largest retail destination in the world, Dubai has been on the luxury retail map well before the opening of the famed Dubai Mall in 2008 and it continues to shape and define luxury personal goods sales within the high-jewelry, horology, and fine watchmaking segment where we are situated.

I believe one of the reasons it does so successfully, and which serves our business model, is that the service industry standards are so well-honed. Our clients expect a high-touch experience and Dubai has all the accoutrements to provide it. The delivery of service is beyond parallel, and this is due in large part to the well-trained sales personnel and the full-service malls that cater to luxury. The combination of tourist destination with the massive measures of foot-traffic makes it ideal from both a marketing and sales perspective. Also, the addition of Dubai to the annual Fashion Week calendar has solidified its standing as a preeminent fashion destination! I haven’t even mentioned the world-class events calendar which require impeccable dress codes. It’s easy to be double and triple booked during peak calendar seasons between weddings, the races, parties, and festivities.

Another reason we are bullish on Dubai is that is a place where opulence and the finer things in life are truly valued and embraced and is part of its ‘culture’. This is very unique, and a trait that we personally celebrate at TARO ISHIDA. Our creations are bold and enigmatic and so are the elegant women who wear them. There is an ethos of wearable, covetable collectibles which is widely practiced and appreciated. How can I describe it—suffice it to say that is not quiet luxury. All the luxury refinements and attitude you could want are represented here among so many offerings- whether it’s world-class hospitality such as hotels, restaurants, and travel or cars and yachts and real estate. Dubai simply sets the bar high and the definition of ‘world-class’ even higher.


Many times, in having this conversation, we’ve been told, ‘but the clientele in the Middle East love European-established brands’. We firmly believe all eyes are on the Middle East. For us at TARO ISHIDA, there is the existence of a beautiful understanding and melding of exquisite taste, and an aesthetic that speaks volumes. This is very much in our DNA- the blending of impeccable design with lux finishings with an East meets West POV. Our woven threads of gold, exotic skins, velvets, and semi-precious stones represent a blending and a melding of the best of all worlds are not only understood but treasured and valued. We feel understood here. Dubai brands have been entering the European/UK markets in a reverse fashion for some time.

These trailblazers include iconic homegrown restaurant concepts, hotel brands, perfumes, and cosmetics, among others. Based upon our visit in November 2023, it reconfirmed for us that Dubai is a great place for strategic, collaborative partnerships in the luxury sector –everything between tie ups with other brands, to working with influencers, etc., etc. The potential for collaboration is endless.

We believe the time is nigh for brands to make a splash in Dubai first and then conquer the globe from there. There is an innovation spirit that fuels Dubai and keeps propelling it forward, ahead of the curve. In many ways, our startup journey captures this essence. Afterall, the future is now in Dubai!”

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Taro Ishida