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The Danish menswear brand has revealed a split personality by launching casualwear alongside its smart heritage.

Part of the Danish IC Companys group, menswear label Matinique launched 30 years ago. Its clean and contemporary style made an immediate impact on European fashion. But with success came imitation, and as more Danish labels launched, the brand lost its identity.

“The slew of similarly styled collections became too much for Matinique to stand out, and by 2001 the brand had begun to look like a weaker version of its old self in the new market,” explains Matinique head of design Henrik Kongerslev.

Change was desperately needed. After beginning his career with Matinique in 1995, Kongerslev had taken a break to pursue other projects but was excited about rejoining the brand in 2004.

“Since coming back to Matinique, my goal has been to co-ordinate the collections and give them a clearer direction,” he explains. “Matinique has traditionally been known for its suits and tailored pieces, but I felt that the brand’s casual elements were worth making more of a statement with.”

Kongerslev and managing director Claus Bendixen decided to form a new line based around more casual product. As a result, Matinique has split its offer into two distinct collections, Black and Blue, launching for autumn 08. Black is Matinique’s traditional style, modern and elegant suiting with clean lines and a slim fit.

Blue, the new casual venture, focuses on a more relaxed style, with technical sportswear, utility and military influences. “Where the Black look is inspired by smart New York city dwellers, Blue is inspired by the streets of Tokyo, with strong and vibrant colours, and playful and younger styles,” explains Kongerslev.

The design team has also been split, so there are now two designers, a co-ordinator and sourcer on each team. The Blue line is manufactured in China, while Black is made in Romania with European fabrics. “The plan is to have different distribution and sales teams for the two lines to reflect their distinct identities, but to still keep their core values the same,” explains Bendixen.

Matinique aims is to introduce its casual line without losing momentum for its already successful tailoring range. It will show both lines at Copenhagen Fashion Week for autumn 08, and aiding the reinvention is Arena fashion editor Andrew Davies, who is working with Matinique as a consultant and its show stylist.

One of Bendixen’s main goals with the launch of Blue is to boost Matinique’s profile in the UK. “With the splitting of the collections I think it will be much easier to go out and grow new business,” he explains.

“The UK has traditionally been our hardest market. However, we feel there is a lot of potential in the UK and our sales reps have had a very positive reaction towards Blue. We want to open a store in London in at least the next three years, hopefully earlier. The autumn 08 range will be crucial to this.”

Matinique 020 8871 2155

Number of Matinique’s UK accounts
750: Number of global accounts
1,000: Target number of global accounts in the next three years
£24m: Matinique’s total turnover in 2005

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