It’s been 14 years since Keld Mikkelsen founded Day Birger et Mikkelsen and, while he’s not quite ready to give up the day job, he’s certainly itching for something new. ‘After 14 years you go a little bit crazy in your own bubble,’ admits Mikkelsen. ‘Our main line is very ethnic inspired, it’s timeless and elegant with a modern twist. However, I thought it was time for something different, something black, dealing much more with shapes, with asymmetric designs; we would never do asymmetric in the main line.’ Which is why this autumn/winter sees the launch of the label’s first ever sub-brand, 2nd Day, priced and styled to appeal to a younger fashion-lover than the main line’s fan base of women and men in their thirties.
And it certainly is something different. Where Day Birger et Mikkelsen is detailed and ultra-feminine, 2nd Day is harder edged, using a palette of black-on-black to create a slick rock-chick vibe (Mikkelsen is particularly proud of the brand’s leather trousers). Or at least that’s one interpretation. Mikkelsen himself finds the line harder to sum up: ‘2nd Day is still a baby; it has just arrived in the shops and we are very excited to follow the first steps.’
With such an analogy, it comes as no surprise that family is central to the Day brand. Mikkelsen’s wife, Marianne Brandi, runs the interiors arm of the company and, with the launch of 2nd Day, the couple’s 20-year-old daughter Amalie is also involved. Amelia might not be a designer, but she certainly provides inspiration. ‘Amalie’s a big part of 2nd Day. For each item my wife and I ask, “Would our daughter wear this?” If not, we won’t go for it. She’s living the 2nd Day lifestyle, so she’s the perfect inspiration,’ Mikkelsen explains.
One brand Mikkelsen cites as ‘tremendously inspiring’ is All Saints, after he spent time with chairman Kevin Stanford and chief executive Stephen Craig when he sold 50% of his company to Baugur, the Icelandic investor which also funded All Saints, in 2006 (a stake he bought back in 2010).
‘They’re cool guys and it [the All Saints brand] is an outstanding achievement; they came up with something new and everyone in the world is talking about it,’ he enthuses. ‘Our vision for 2nd Day is to become an international recognised fashion brand directed at a young target group, while being true to the DNA of Day Birger et Mikkelsen. We want to do this by the expansion of stores through unique shopping environments.’
The first collection for 2nd Day might be launching this season, but it’s been a long time coming. ‘My mother always said I was a late bloomer,’ smiles Mikkelsen. ‘For quite a while we have been playing with the thought of creating a young sub-brand, but you have to wait for the right time, which has proven to be now.’ Ever the perfectionist, Mikkelsen admits he is actually rather pleased with how the diffusion line has turned out. ‘I’m extremely proud of the first collection. I still think we have some way to go, but the collection we have for summer 2012 is stronger again.’
And it’s not only 2nd Day which has found its moment; other areas of the company are also flourishing. ‘Our men’s line is doing tremendously well right now as well. We are now working with a new strong design profile, which has been received very well by the consumer,’ confides Mikkelsen. But although things are going well for his company, Mikkelsen doesn’t believe in resting on his laurels. ‘Competition worldwide is getting tougher and tougher so we have to get up early and go to bed late to survive in this business.’ So once he’s got his head around 2nd Day, what then? ‘In this company things happen very quickly, who knows what’s next?’
For now, Mikkelsen’s keen to focus on making 2nd Day a success. ‘I’ll be happy and proud if it becomes part of the heartbeat of the company but still has its own life.’