Karen Millen

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Karen Millen Fashions Limited
TypePrivate limited company
Founded1981; 40 years ago (1981)
FounderKaren Millen
Kevin Stanford
Area served
United Kingdom
United States
Republic of Ireland
Key people
  • Neil McCausland
  • (Executive Chairman)[1]
  • Gemma Metheringham
  • (Chief Creative Officer)
  • Beth Butterwick
  • (Chief Executive Officer)[2]

Karen Millen is a British online women's clothing retailer specialising in tailoring, coats and evening wear. Formerly a high street chain with stores throughout the United Kingdom, United States, Indonesia, Austria, Denmark, Russia, the Republic of Ireland and many other European countries, since 2019 it is has been an online-only brand of Boohoo plc.


Karen Millen at The 4th Asian Awards

Karen Millen studied fashion at the Medway College of Design which is now known as University for the Creative Arts.[3]

The company was founded in 1981 when Millen partnered with Kevin Stanford. With a loan of just £100, the pair bought one thousand metres of white cotton and began manufacturing and selling white shirts to their friends. A party-plan network followed, and in 1983, they opened their first store in Maidstone, Kent, which was followed a few years later by branches in Tunbridge Wells, Brighton, Guildford and London.[4][non-primary source needed]

The brand continued to expand throughout the 1990s, and was acquired in June 2004 by the Icelandic Mosaic Fashions. In 2009, Mosaic Fashions ceased trading and the brand transferred to Aurora Fashions. Karen Millen was spun-out from Aurora Fashions in 2011, remaining under the ownership of Aurora's owner, Kaupthing Bank.[5][6][7]

It was announced by The Times on 28 March 2017 that Karen Millen, founder of Karen Millen Fashions Limited, had been declared bankrupt in the High Court, London due to unpaid income tax. It came after the administrators to Kaupthing Bank, which own Karen Millen, had prevented the designer from using her name to launch a new brand. It was also stated that Millen owed HM Revenue and customers £6 million after attempting to use a "tax avoidance" scheme which HMRC successfully contested in 2010.[8]

Karen Millen acquired the assets of its sister company, Coast, out of administration in October 2018.[9] In August 2019, the two companies' online businesses were bought out of administration by internet retailer Boohoo for £18 million. Only the online employees were taken on by Boohoo and the standalone retail stores eventually closed.[10]


Creative Director Gemma Metheringham oversees 12 designers, producing two main collections and two transitional collections each season.

Karen Millen trades from 84 standalone stores and 46 concessions in the UK and Ireland. Internationally, Karen Millen trades from 16 company owned stores and 57 franchise stores in 23 countries.[11]

In the United States, Karen Millen has boutiques in Atlanta, Boston, Bellevue, Washington, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Short Hills, Tysons Corner, Washington, D.C. and San Diego.

In March 2008, the company launched a new flagship store in New York City at 114 Prince St. It closed in March 2015 but reopened in September 2016.[12]

In October 2013, the first boutique in the Caribbean opened in Puerto Rico.


  1. ^ Armstrong, Ashley (4 September 2015). "Karen Millen boss quits after failed takeover attempt". The Telegraph. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  2. ^ Armstrong, Ashley (16 December 2015). "Bonmarché's Beth Butterwick to join Karen Millen as CEO". Drapers. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  3. ^ "UCA | University for the Creative Arts".
  4. ^ About Karen Millen - Womens Designer Clothes - Karen Millen
  5. ^ Ruddick, Graham (3 January 2015). "Aurora moves closer to break-up as Karen Millen boss departs". The Telegraph. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  6. ^ Taylor, Charlie (15 January 2016). "Mixed trading conditions for Aurora Fashions". The Irish Times. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  7. ^ Roberts, Lauretta (17 August 2016). "Karen Millen founder loses battle for right to use her name". The Industry. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  8. ^ Mostrous, Alexi; Hipwell, Deirdre. "High street's fashion icon blames fall on fraud by bank". The Times. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  9. ^ "Karen Millen Buys Coast Assets as Fashion Chain Goes out of Business". Business Of Fashion. 11 October 2018. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  10. ^ Naomi Rovnick; Jonathan Eley; Nic Fildes (6 August 2019). "Boohoo snaps up Karen Millen and Coast in £18.2m pre-pack deal". Financial Times. Retrieved 16 April 2021.
  11. ^ Baugur Group | Details | Karen Millen
  12. ^ Karen Millen opens New York flagship store | Fashion news | Marie Claire

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