Dirk Bikkembergs is a Belgian-German clothing brand headquartered in Milan, named after its founder Dirk Bickembergs. The company is primarily associated with football and sports casual style, which is based on the combination of everyday and sports clothing.
The history of the Dirk Bikkembergs brand
The company was founded by Dirk Bickembergs, born on 2 January 1959 in western Germany in Cologne. His parents saw him as a lawyer, but Dirk preferred law to art. After graduation, he entered the prestigious Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium.
In 1982 he was educated and began his career as a fashion designer, joining the so-called Antwerp Six («Antwerp Six») in the London Tour, which included 5 more unusually talented fashion designers of the modern: Ann Demelmeister, Dris Van Note, Dirk Van Sayen, Walter Van Berendonk and Marina Yee. Their views were so innovative that they made Antwerp one of the world’s fashion capitals.
In 1985, Bickembergs was awarded the Canette d'Or («Golden Spindle» ) Award in the nomination «Best Novice Designer», which also received most of the other members of Antwerp Six. A year later, he developed his first shoe collection, which he presented with the «Antwerp Six» at the British Designer Show in London. In the late '80s, the members of the fashion collective decided to split up to assert their unique style.
In 1987, Bickembergs released his first full-length collection of men’s clothing, Dirk Bikkembergs, which was showcased at fashion shows in Paris in 1988.
In 1991, he founded a clothing company 22 s.r.l, based in Fossombrone (Province of Pesaro e Urbino) in Italy.
In 1993, the first women’s clothing collection Dirk Bikkembergs was published, which was dominated by coarse fabrics, long coats and coats such as «coat». At the same time, the models displayed on the podium Dirk, did not look rude or masculine, on the contrary, they clearly saw the femininity.
In 1996, the Bikkembergs line was introduced.
Towards the end of the 1990s, Bickembergs abandoned the elegant Paris avant-garde fashion in favor of more sporty and casual. In 1998, in Milan, he introduced the fashion sports clothing line Dirk Bikkembergs Sport Couture as the main. Since then, his chic sporting collections for men have been on the podiums of Milan Fashion Week.
In 2000, in cooperation with the Italian shoe manufacturer Zeis Excelsa, a shoe collection was developed (mainly with sneakers) and a separate collection of Bikkembergs Jeans jeans was presented.
In 2001, Bickembergs was given permission to host a fashion show at the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium. From that moment on, the Bikkembergs brand began to embody football fashion, becoming its legislator.
In 2003, the women’s collection of the brand was last shown in Paris, after which Bickembergs presented it at women’s fashion shows in Milan and finally decided to show women’s models exclusively at his shows at the Men’s Fashion Week in Milan. Bickembergs announced the discontinuation of the Bikkembergs Jeans line and introduced the Bikkembergs Sport brand.
In 2004, Bickembergs won the La Kore Oscar della Moda Award for the best fashion designer from abroad.
From 2003 to 2005. Bickembergs was the official designer of clothes for players of the professional Milan football club «Inter».
In 2005, the designer acquired amateur football club F. C. Fossombrone, which was near the factory buildings and began its large-scale rebranding. He changed its name to F. C. Bikkembergs Fossombrone and began using the team as a laboratory for tissue modelling and testing. From now on, all Dirk Bikkembergs products, from fashionable jackets to underwear, were tested and promoted by football players. Players began to wear stylish sports clothes both on and off the field, participated as models for advertising campaigns, went to the podium on fashion shows.
Since the late 2000s, Bikkembergs has featured the men’s Dirk Bikkembergs Sport Couture collection at shows in Milan, which also featured individual female models.
In 2006, Levitas was founded for the development, marketing and licensing of the brand, with 70% owned by the longtime Italian shoe licensee Bikkembergs, Zeis Excelsa from Montegranaro, and 30% owned by Dirk Bickembergs himself.
In 2007, the turnover of Bikkembergs was about 120 million euros. Only the underwear line launched at the time brought 7 million euros. In the same year Dirk Bickembergs was awarded the title of «Businessman of the year 2007».
In 2009, a flagship store opened in Milan.
In 2011, the annual turnover of the enterprise amounted to 139 million. Euros.
In mid-2011, Zeis Excelsa acquired a majority stake in a troubled Belgian company and has since managed it through a subsidiary, Levitas. The creative director of the brand remained Dirk Bickembergs. In turn, the Dutch company International Heroes B.V., founded by Bickembergs and owned by the fashion brand Bikkembergs, was dissolved.
In July 2011, Bikkembergs faced charges of tax evasion amounting to 111 million euros, which were transferred from 22 s.r.l. to the Luxembourg trading company von Bikkembergs, International Fashion Factors, which coordinates global brand sales from Italy to Luxembourg.
In 2012, Zeis Excelsa hired designers Hamish Morrow and Paolu Tuscano to help Bickembergs create men’s and women’s collections, respectively. Hamish Morrow’s first men’s collection, called Dirk Bikkembergs Man, featured classic elegant outfits. Shortly before Morrow’s first show, Bickembergs left the company he founded.
In 2013, a licensing agreement was signed with the Italian fashion manufacturer SINV, which in early 2015 also acquired a 16% stake in Bikkembergs. At that time, Zeis Excelsa owned 60% of the company’s shares.
In 2015, there were 80 Bikkembergs partner boutiques worldwide in 40 countries, including Italy, France, Spain, Russia, Germany, China and the Middle East. The company provides licenses to other manufacturers for the Underwear Division (licensed by Albisetti S.p.A.), Points (Allison S.p.A.) and Children’s Clothing (Mariella Burani S.p.A.).
In mid-2015, the Chinese fashion company Guangzhou Canudilo Fashion & Accessories bought a 51% stake in Levitas, the owner of the Bikkembergs brand, for almost 41 million euros and has since expanded into China and North America. The remaining 49% are equally owned by Zeis Excelsa and SINV.
In mid-2016, British and former Versace designer Lee Wood took over as creative director of Bikkembergs. In the middle of the same year, the men’s perfume Dirk was released.