Karen Millen was first founded in 1981 by then husband and wife, Kevin Stanford and Karen Millen, who borrowed £100 to start manufacturing white shirts, which they later sold to their family and friends. Known for its formal and occasion wear, Karen Millen expanded rapidly in the 1990s.
In 2004 Millen sold her business to Oasis then part of Mosaic Fashions. After the administration of Mosaic in 2009 it became part of the Aurora Fashions group, which also included Oasis, Warehouse and Coast, and is owned by Icelandic bank Kaupthing.
Karen Millen has stores in over 65 countries across six continents including flagship stores in London's Regent Street and New York's Fifth Avenue. It has recently been expanding its business via a licensing deal with IMG and has signed deals for footwear, accessories and swimwear, and has also moved into travel retail with a store at Gatwick Airport.
In June 2019 it was reported that owner Kaupthing had appointed advisers from Deloitte to investigate a possible sale of the business. In August it was revealed that online fast fashion group Boohoo had acquired the bread and online business only of both Karen Millen and Coast, meaning the brands' stores and concessions are likely to disappear from the high street.
The brands were bought in an £18.2m pre-pack deal.