Designer British Women’s Fashion
View Karen Millen Fashion collections on London Fashion Review Blog
A Brief History of the Karen Millen Brand
The Karen Millen brand was founded in 1981 with humble beginnings. Founders Kevin Stanford (recently named as a possibly buy out partner for in-trouble British fashion brand, AllSaints) and Karen Millen used a loan of £100 to manufacture and sell white shirts to their friends. A party planning network soon followed, and over the next three decades, the Karen Millen has continued to expand into a global luxury womenswear brand. As of 2011, Karen Millen operated in 311 locations in 40 countries worldwide, with flagship stores in London, New York, Moscow, Dubai, Barcelona, L.A., Dusseldorf and St Petersburg. The brand also has a successful e-commerce site that as of 2011, shipped to over 20 countries.
- 1981: Karen Millen is founded by Kevin Stanford and Karen Millen as a small outfit, manufacturing and selling white shirts to their friends, which soon expanded into a party planning network.
- 1983: The first Karen Millen store opens in Kent.
- 2004: The Karen Millen brand was acquired by Mosaic Fashions.
- 2006: Gemma Metherington, formerly of Marks & Spencer, Next and now defunct womenswear retailer Richards, joins Karen Millen as Creative Director over-seeing the 12-strong design team.
- 2008: The Karen Millen New York flagship store opens on Prince Street.
- 2009: Mosaic Fashions ceased trading after suffering financial difficulty after the collapse of Icelandic investor, Baugur, which was s 49% minority owner of the group. Karen Millen (with Coast, Oasis and Warehouse) becomes part of Aurora Fashions, a group that is majority-owned by Kaupthing Bank Hf alongside the former management of Mosaic Fashions Ltd, acquired from administrators of the collapsed Mosaic group.
- 2010: The brand launches an innovative gift voucher system using SMS gift vouchers.
- 2011: Aurora Fashions announces that the Karen Millen brand is to become an independent company, with Derek Lovelock as Executive Chairman, working with Joint Managing Directors Gemma Metheringham and Steve Price. Also this year, Karen Millen celebrated 30 years in fashion with a special anniversary range of accessories, including crystal-embellished heels and pony-studded bags. In addition to the anniversary collection, the high-street store is hosting 30 parties in 30 cities worldwide, details of which can be found on the Karen Millen website.
Karen Millen Brand Aesthetic
Since the inception of the brand, Karen Millen has expanded from manufacturing and selling white shirts, to producing 12 collections each season including, womenswear, swimwear, lingerie, jewellery, footwear and accessories. Karen Millen aims to offer designer style at the top end of the high street market, competing with the likes of Reiss and Whistles. In each collection Karen Millen aims to deliver luxury, high quality and beautifully designed pieces.
The Karen Millen woman is the confident, body-conscious, glamorous, cosmopolitan woman who wants polished garments that are also feminine and fun. The Karen Millen aesthetic does not staunchly follow trends, instead giving them a chic-twist to create individual, unique well made pieces that transcend the seasons.
Recent Financials of Karen Millen
In September of 2011, Karen Millen announced that they expected to report profits of £21 million for the year to February 2011. Despite the current economic downturn, it is anticipated that the retailer will report a 5% rise in profits and a 15% increase in turnover on the previous year. Improved sales in stores and concessions in Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union are believed to have heavily contributed to the growth
Future of Karen Millen
In March 2011, Aurora Fashions, the group behind Karen Millen, announced that Karen Millen was to be established as a separate company. Aurora Fashions was to continue with Coast, Oasis and Warehouse c. Chairman of Aurora Fashions, Derek Lovelock became Executive Chairman of the Karen Millen brand, working with Joint Managing Directors Gemma Metheringham. Successful overseas operations comprising of owned businesses and franchise partnerships contributes 60% of all sales, which as of 2011 had reached £250 million.
In the five years that follow 2011, Karen Millen plans to double its sales to £500 million. Independence for the Karen Millen will allow acceleration of international expansion of the brand. Karen Millen plans to open further international flagship stores in St. Petersburg, Paris, Berlin and Sydney.
Visit the official Karen Millen website, here.