LONDON — Danish retailer Birger Christensen has a 150-year-old history, its chic multibrand boutique having opened its doors in the heart of Copenhagen in 1869, and built a name for offering a well-curated collection of luxury names alongside its own brand of fur and accessories.
But when Denise Christensen joined her family business as chief executive officer in 2017 she wanted to write a new chapter in the brand’s history and look forward to the future — and she did so by debuting a series of private labels, backed by the retailer.
“When you have multibrand store, you’re always telling all the different brands’ stories. But I wanted to create my own story and my own future. The whole idea was to tell the story of what we believe in and share our vision for the future,” Christensen said in an interview.
This vision consists of accessibly priced brands, catering to customers’ specific needs, be it everyday glamour or everyday wardrobe staples.
Cue Rotate, the Copenhagen-based label that is backed by Christensen and designed by Danish influencers Thora Valdimars and Jeanette Madsen, which became a global hit within 12 months for its bold dresses, sweet spot price points and mission to deliver “everyday glamour.”
Now, Christensen is introducing a new label to the Birger Christensen umbrella, Remain, that is addressing a different need in women’s wardrobes for well-made, everyday staples. Retailers such as Browns, Selfridges, Net-a-porter and Saks, who saw success with Rotate, are already buying into it.
“Remain really stood out for us this season. Leather was heavily present in an array of pleasantly surprising colors, from sage green to Barbie pink with pops of burgundy, all in clean silhouettes such as the gorgeous Bermuda short, trenchcoat and cropped shirt. The label really embodies that grown-up girl element,” said Libby Page, Net’s senior fashion market editor.
Even though retailers have traditionally struggled with the private label business, part of Christensen’s success is that she is approaching the brands as their own entities without attaching the Birger Christensen name to them.
“It was never going to be a part of telling the story of Birger Christensen, 150 years old. That’s the past. For me, the good thing about having a store that’s 150 years old is that it’s been through so many phases and has a lot of credibility around cash flow and trust from the banks, because we’ve been around. So from a logistics and production point of view relying on the company to help us build the brands has been extremely important. But otherwise the idea was to create the future and tell new stories,” said Christensen, who is also toying with ideas for men’s and sportswear brands, as well as underwear for the future.
For the launch of Remain, she hosted an intimate presentation during the latest Copenhagen Fashion Week where double-breasted blazers, roomy midi dresses and leather skirts in cool pastel hues were displayed on rails and a diverse set of women across all ages who represent the brand’s audience.
“The idea is to simply try to make the lives of all kinds of women, no matter where they are in their lives, a little less complicated. These are everyday favorites, so if you wake up and things might not be running smoothly you can put those pieces on and not have to worry about how you look,” said Christensen, highlighting leather pieces, blazers and outerwear as collection heroes. “We tried to make a collection that fits the life of a woman instead of looking at what is trendy right now. It fits to the whole concept of sustainability and thinking of buying less.”
Prices remain accessible, with leather trousers retailing for $250.
“From my experience with this store, I see that only a fraction of customers can actually afford the really luxurious, high-end brands be it Dior, Celine or Loewe. So we are trying to deliver really quality, fit and affordable prices for all women, and that’s a really important topic for me,” added Christensen, pointing to the importance of keeping margins low and working with trusted factories to achieve competitive price points.