Comme des Garçons CEO: Others may like 5-year plans, but I don't

Key Points
  • Adrian Joffe, CEO of successful fashion brands Comme des Garçons and Dover Street Market, said he runs his businesses on "six-month plans"
  • Still, market research and observation remain key to his business approach, he tells CNBC
Adrian Joffe attends an exclusive VIP preview of the Dover Street Market on March 18, 2016 in London, England.
David M. Benett | Getty Images

Fashion CEO Adrian Joffe oversees businesses reportedly raking in over $280 million in revenue yearly. Those globe-spanning pursuits aren't handled spur of the moment, but nor are they long-term designs.

"We don't have five-year plans, we have like six-month plans," Joffe told CNBC of his business approach between planning and instinct. "There's always been that notion of balance."

Joffe is president and chief executive of Japanese label Comme des Garçons and multi-label retailer Dover Street Market, and works closely with CDG's founder and designer, Rei Kawakubo — who is also his wife.

Going by instinct was very much how the couple decided to launch a DSM store in Singapore this July, said Joffe. The outlet is the company's fourth.

"It was never in our minds," Joffe said about DSM Singapore, adding that a conversation with a Singaporean associate spurred the idea.

"The opportunity came and we just went for it. We thought about it — not very long. We came to visit, fell in love with the building and thought, 'This is going to be a unique experience,'" he added.

A general view of the Dover Street Market London store on March 18, 2016 in London, England.
David M. Benett | Getty Images

Still, according to Joffe, market research and observation remain key to his corporate approach. In launching DSM Singapore, Joffe said he had studied "a little bit" about whether the company could succeed.

Noticing strong consumption from Asian travelers, he and Kawakubo were also already looking to open another DSM store in Asia, he added.

"We could see from our London Dover Street, New York Dover Street and Ginza Dover Street that there's more and more Asians getting really into the idea" of DSM, Joffe said. "So, we had the confidence. But we didn't know where was right."

"When the (Singapore) offer came, it just all felt right."

The fifth DSM store is scheduled to open in Los Angeles in March 2018, and Joffe said the company has not yet charted its steps beyond that date.

And while the growing e-retail industry may pose a possible threat to the profitability of his business in the near future, Joffe said he is not too worried. E-commerce currently makes up a "very small" 10 percent of the DSM business, the CEO said.

According to him, traditional brick-and-mortar stores can continue to thrive because physical stores, unlike e-shopping platforms, offer patrons a uniquely social experience — which he strives to maximize at DSM.

"We like people to come and spend time, not necessarily buying, but just talking."

In 2016, the three Dover Street Market stores in New York, Tokyo and London reportedly accounted for 35 percent of Comme des Garçons' total revenue.