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Day Birger et Mikkelsen

The Danish heavyweight reveals its plans for menswear and the impact its new team will have on UK growth.

It’s fair to say that Day Birger et Mikkelsen’s menswear has lived its UK existence in the shadow of its women’s offer. But now momentum is picking up and more retailers are getting behind the men’s collection.

The brand’s menswear designer Graham Adinall joined in February 2007, and almost a year has passed since Ciaran Cushnahan left Kenzo to take the helm as UK sales manager for Day Birger et Mikkelsen’s menswear. In that time the men’s distribution has almost doubled from 14 to 27 accounts, with the brand gearing up to introduce concessions.

“We’re in final talks with one major department store about taking on menswear via its own-buy for autumn 08,” says Cushnahan, who is guarded about the name of the operator. “Off the back of that we are in discussions about a retail concessions roll-out for menswear in department stores in major UK cities.” He is also tight-lipped over the name of the department store concessions partner. The concessions strategy is being modelled on its Day Women line, for which the brand is rolling out five concessions in House of Fraser stores in the next two years.

In terms of product, the Day Men collection is now divided into three categories, with prices ranging from £36 to £140. Dandy has a luxury tailoring slant emphasised by its slim-fitting single-button styles. Lounge Lizards’ sumptuous tailoring takes Dandy’s daytime look into the evening, while Urban Hippy embraces the bohemian personality which defined Day Birger et Mikkelsen’s inception.

The Day Women collection includes Daily Couture, which launched in autumn 07 as a more detail-led alternative with slightly higher prices. The 40-piece Day & Friends line is in the second season of a collaboration with Brit design duo Preen for autumn 08, while the party-led Night offer delivered in October and the Gallery cruise range delivered in December both provide fresh merchandising opportunities in the lead-in to spring. Day Women’s prices range from £20 for soft jersey pieces to about £80 for detailed outerwear.

Part-owned by Icelandic company Baugur (which also owns House of Fraser) since 2006, Day Birger et Mikkelsen has introduced new members to its team in a bid to drive sales. Two new international sales managers – Tom Tinning on womenswear and Dennis Bager-Madsen on menswear – have been brought on board in Denmark to oversee sales growth, while export manager Lela Nair has set up office in London and Lori Smets has been brought in to push the brand’s womenswear growth in the Republic of Ireland and the north of England.

“When growing, a lot of new employees are needed,” says Keld Mikkelsen, the brand’s managing director and co-founder. “The challenge is to pass on the firm’s history to all new employees so they fully understand our DNA. We are looking for the same qualities in our new employees as we have always done, that is to say energetic, talented and curious.”

Essentials:
10: Years since Day Birger et Mikkelsen’s launch
90: Number of UK accounts on womenswear
27: Number of UK accounts on menswear
5: Number of House of Fraser concessions for Day Women

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