Karen Millen was founded in 1981 by Karen Millen herself and Kevin Stanford. The first store was opened in Kent in 1983 after they had been selling and manufacturing white shirts to their friends with just a loan of £100.
Gemma Metheringham became the creative director or Karen Millen in 2006, she overseas a team of 12 designers that work in ready to wear, accessories and lingerie collections. This all if a part of Karen Millens success.
The company soon expanded and is now global, from Europe, Russia, Asia and Australia. In March of 2009 Karen Millen was sold to Aurora Fashions, this is the same company which owns Coast, Oasis and Warehouse to name a few.
12 Collections are produced each season covering day, work, occasion and weekend wear. All of this is designed in house, from lace to embossed hard wear. Also have in house pattern cutters to ensure the perfect fit which Karen Millen is known for.
“Each piece of our collection has been individually designed, hand-crafted and perfected by our designers in our in-house atelier to deliver our signature quality and attention to detail. From couture-inspired techniques to luxurious heritage fabrics, every KM garment has a story to tell.” Quoted from www.karenmillen.com
In 2013 Karen Millen went through a huge re branding which cost them millions. This was them wanting to brand out for themselves as they are planning to become independent from Aurora Fashions. Working as a stylist in the Southampton store which is one of the top stores in the region i saw this prosses take place. They wanted the perception of Karen Millen to change, it started to become a dress store, and even though Karen Millen still is very much somewhere you can go to get a dress which you are guarantied a great fit they wanted to be known for more than just that. There campaign brought in younger faces and the photographer David Bailey which huge campaign posters in store and on sides of London buses and taxis. They moved away from the orange and black and moved to the much more fresh yellow and white.
There campaigns where about separates. Stylists where encouraged to purchase separates instead of dresses for uniform and each show and individual edgy way to wear them which was very successful. They are now beginning to get a more broad client base with knitwear and jeans becoming some of their best sellers.
Just because the focus isn’t just on dresses and evening wear anymore Karen Millen still work on “Client First” which is showing each client the perfect Karen Millen experience. This is to cater to all the clients needs as a stylist, from preparing a fitting room to completing a outfit. The aim for Karen Millen is for women to feel like they have had a luxury experience as they are a high end high street store.
Client first is also important in knowing information about the garments, from where the fabrics are sourced, to how they fit, how they are printed and even if they have matching accessories. The client is paying more, and average dress being £190, simple t-shirt £50, pair of jeans £99, knitwear £110 and Leather jackets £450. The client needs to know these are luxury items hence the price behind them. They also offer promotions for KM black (who are people who have been noticed to spend a lot in store) and often have 20% off promotions.
The luxury feel is also how the visual merchandising of the store is laid out. From the window displays. The fact there is only ever 4 items of each clothing out at one time and all being in there collections for example. “boyish charm” “modern mod” and “fashion fairytale”.