Inger Breitenstein, of children’s fashion agent based in London, represents mainly Scandinavian brands such as Angulus, FUB knitwear and Ver de Terre. Born in Copenhagen, Inger has a passion for Danish design and she appreciates modern, natural and functional products. 

Inger lives in Chiswick, London with her husband Michael and two children Julius (part-time and attending Central St Martins, studying Product Design) and Astrid aged 14. The passion for Danish style runs in the family, but the Breitenstein family divide their time between the UK and their classic French home, a 18th century farmhouse in Provence (near Vaison La Romaine) that they share with 2 other families.

Inger launched Breitenstein Agencies in 2002 and she currently represents Fub, Milibe, Maa, Manuela de Juan, Bobux, Ver de Terre and Huttelihut. It is always rich to talk with agents, especially in the current times, as we are witnessing a profound change in the industry as well as in our society.

Thanks to Inger for sharing her views and comments with us.

How has he business evolved since Inger started, how is the current climate for UK childrenswear retailer? 

The climate is still a balancing act and many shops are still struggling- especially the shops that don’t have a web shop to support the physical shop. But those that are professional with cash flow forecasts, serious number crunching before placing orders etc. are really now getting ahead of the smaller shops that don’t know their numbers inside out. As our brands are not trend driven or very fast high fashion, but quite fashion classic we have continued with a very steady and solid customers base, that have been very loyal to our brands.

Is the UK very London focused or does the rest of the country offer a great range of childrenswear stores? Are there strong regional trends ?

Our clothing brands are mainly sold in the south, as they are very classic and continental looking. In the North most shops are more brand driven and they also do like a bit more sparkly clothes. Our shoe brands have a very good presense in the North and the South, but the Midlands is a bit more of a struggle as there are not as many independent shops able to sell at a slightly higher price point which is where most of our brands retail. In general I also think that there are fewer independents shops in the midlands. I think “the south” is more likely to attend shows abroad, being slightly more adventurous and often likes a more continental look. The customer base in and around London is very international influenced and cosmopolitan than what you will find in the North and this will influence what you can sell where.

Danish children’s brands are very popular in the UK, can you explain why?

With Danish design the quality is good, the designs are simple and they look individual, which is a perfect match for childrenswear in the UK. They are eye catching, traditional and colourful at the same time and all these elements appeal to British parents. Just like Angulus – classic with a twist! It’s in our Scandinavian genes to have strong views about looks and design and Danish design is especially timeless I think.

Quality seems very important to you, do you confirm?

Yes, quality is fundamental to me. I saw when I moved here that there was an abundance of embellished or logoed clothes.  I found it hard to find good quality, simpler clothes.

Take the shoes for instance. Danish shoes combined strong simple design with amazing quality. When I came to the UK the classic stitch down crepe sole that Angulus uses was then not at all trendy here, which it is now.  There was a limited colour in girls and boys shoes and the soles were very stiff, many with synthetic linings. In Denmark we are used  to more natural materials such as cotton, silk and wool, feel good fabrics that are built to last and I wanted to bring those values to childrenswear in the UK.

You introduced Angulus to the UK, how did you find out about them?

My kids have always worn Angulus shoes, ever since they were tiny. They have grown up with the brand. In London I bumped into a former colleague I used to work with in Denmark and she said why don’t you bring Angulus to the UK?  She inspired me.

My previous catering business was well known in Denmark and the owner of Angulus knew of me through my network. So I  wrote a business plan for them – they sent me some samples and it went from there!  I had been in the UK for only 6 months when I started, so it was a fresh start for me.

Those values of quality, trying to do better and planning helped me in my venture as childrenswear agent and we have had a consistent year- on year growth.

What are you plans for this year?

My plan is to consolidate the brands I represent in the UK and build the awareness of Angulus. Educating people about looking after their children’s feet and wearing something classically beautiful is important and fundamental to me.

I make sure that my customers know my values are to combine design and healthy children’s feet. Ideas need time to grow and become established, so I build long- term relationships. It is this investment of time and attention that allows the shops and customers that I serve to grow with these brands and be profitable.

This long term view and commitment to quality has allowed me and my team to build credibility and trust with our customers and these strong relationships have meant continued growth despite the ups and the downs of the market.