What: Gallery Weekend in Berlin and the exhibition „Into the…
Keld Mikkelsen: “Be alert that the business can kill you.”
What: Interview with Keld Mikkelsen
about his fashion-label ‘Day Birger et Mikkelsen’
I still remember the white tunica I bought at the end of the 90s in a boutique in Hamburg: rich embroiderie, a bit ethnic and by the Danish label ‘Day Birger et Mikkelsen’. One of my absolute favorites, which I wore with jeans, in the office or at partys and which accompanied me for many years. Don’t you have a retro piece like that in your closet too?
I therefore looked forward to my interview with founder Keld Mikkelsen even more. Meanwhile there is a whole lifestyle concept behind his brand: Dress like ‘Day Birger et Mikkelsen’ and live like ‘Day Birger et Mikkelsen’ – they have a home collection as well, designed my Marianne Brandi, Kelds partner. And there is also a second line, called ‘2nd Day’, plus an accessory collection. Keld and Marianne travel between St. Barth, Lugano and Copenhagen. What still drives someone like him after all those years in the fashion industry?
MyStylery: Why don’t you just spend your days relaxing on the beautiful beaches of St. Barth, Keld?
Keld Mikkelsen: That would be too boring for me, not inspiring enough. St. Barth is rather for holidays, I don’t work there, I’d rather relax there.
MS: Is it your first time in Berlin?
KM: No, I visited Berlin already 4 or 5 times, coming in and out, mostly for ‘Premium’, the fashion-fair, even though I don’t like fairs very much.
MS: Why don’t you like fairs?
KM: (laughs) Too many people, too noisy, too packed and too exhausting.
MS: You’ve lived a long time in Asia and describe yourself as nomad and cosmopolitan. What fascinates you about the Far Eastern culture?
KM: In India, I met inspiring people and an impressive culture full of diversity. I love the traditional saris with all the embroidery and the craftsmanship. The world is my muse.
MS: What is the new collection about?
KM: It’s retro yet modern, sharp yet soft, Scandinavian yet ethnical. We want to create an effortless sophisticated look. That’s why we call our new collection the New Bohemian.
MS: The collection was designed in the design centre in Lugano, right?
KM: We had to make a decision and we wanted to survive, that’s why we moved our design centre with the brand management and creative part to Lugano, but we are still a Danish brand with our complete logistics and our Showroom in Copenhagen. I am proud to have this kind of organization in a small way, we aren’t a huge company.
MS: How did you get into the fashion business?
KM: My first job was at a gas station. Later I worked at a music store, before I was offered a job for the fashion label Vero Moda. There was no fashion industry in Denmark 20 years ago, so this was a challenge and luckily became a bestseller. When we started our own brand in the 90s the US Vogue wrote that Day Birger et Mikkelsen is so different. Day was a niche, we are very big in Scandinavia and England. We follow our heart and we still love what we do.
MS: You started the business together with Malene Birger …
KM: Malene was my first designer and I loved the idea that people thought we are a family. We had the vision to create fashion which one can use. For example brands like Yamamoto or Dries van Noten are not suitable for everyday use. Our style was always relaxed – and still is today.
MS: Don’t you fear running out of ideas?
KM: I don’t run out of ideas. Travelling around the world is my inspiration. I work a lot although I am 57 now and sometimes I get sick of people not listening to me when I try to make clear where we want to go.
MS: Together with Marianne Brandi you have started the ‘Day home collection’.
KM: Right. We started with pillows. My wife is the creative designer who has the ideas and inspirations. The interior industry is very different to the fashion business.
MS: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
KM: (laughs) In ten years? I hope my daughter is overtaking and being a partner of the business.
MS: Do you have any advices for her?
KM: You can sell everything everywhere, but you have to tell a story so that people know you and the collection. The consumer must always be sure that there are people behind ‘Day’ who love their jobs. And you have to be alert every day that the business can kill you. BvH