Donaldson is a defunct Belgian clothing brand. It was founded in 1983 by Marcy Szwarcburt. It was initially named Blue Production.

Marcy Szwarcburt, son of Polish immigrants, had one great vision. He wanted to combine the beloved characters of Disney with a luxurious yet leisurely and family-oriented lifestyle. He felt that Mickey Mouse and his friends deserved better than mass production. The choice came naturally to him: his father was a tailor, while he himself had dabbled in acting and appreciated the humor of Disney's classic characters.

His first product was pajamas, launched in 1984, with an embroidered Mickey Mouse who wore the same. He managed to get his clothes in hip Brussels boutiques, starting with Bouvy which had exclusivity for the first winter. The light-hearted charm worked its magic and its success led to more. More clothes, but eventually also more Disney characters.12

Success is never without its downsides. From 1991, counterfeits from Thailand started appearing. Szwarcburt sent out VHS tapes to retailers, to raise awareness of the issues. Donaldson products from now on came with a certificate of authenticity.3 Still, this same prominence led to Donaldson winning the Walt Disney Europe top licensee award in 1992.

Donaldson expanded, to stuffed toys (in cooperation with Steiff), porcelain tableware (by Royal Boch), and even its own line of furniture. Its commitment to strongly themed clothing lines culminated in receiving the Disney Award for Best Retail Presentation in 1997.

As the new millennium approached, the company stagnated. To improve Donaldson's relationships with ever more stringent banks, Szwarcburt hired the well-known Belgian lawyer Mischaël Modrikamen.

Modrikamen brought in Arnold Niclaus, who would serve as Szwarcburt's financial partner, freeing Szwarcburt to focus more on the creative process again. Niclaus bought 33% of Donaldson's shares with his own company Arnimode. Production of the clothing moved away from Belgium, a financial necessity.

New licenses beyond Disney were sought: the 2006 autumn collection was announced with a new clothing line inspired by Charlie Chaplin.

In late 2006, as sales continued declining and banks threatened to pull out, Modrikamen and Niclaus convinced Szwarcburt to sell the remaining shares. Out of his depth, Szwarcburt agreed.

Arnimode became Donaldson's only shareholder, changing its name to Brussels Luxury Holding on 14 December 2006. New investment companies bought shares, some of which already had shady reputations.

In 2007, the unthinkable happened. The new CEO of Donaldson, Benoit Coquelet, decides to end the licensing agreement with Disney. At the time he explained it as such:

“At the time, Mickey was the symbol of The American Dream. But it has blown apart. A trip to Disneyland in Florida was something unique. Now Disneyland is a one hour and a half drive from Brussels. People like George Bush are also responsible for the fact that our view of America is no longer what it used to be. We got an advantage from Mickey in the 1980s, not anymore.”

Not only the end of the American Dream is blamed. Disney has also increasingly partnered with other clothing brands.

“Donaldson was the first and for a long time also the only European clothing brand to have a licensing agreement with Walt Disney. That exclusivity no longer exists. Now you can also buy T-shirts with Mickey Mouse in mass chains […]. Why would you pay 50 euros for that with us, when you can get it there for 12 euros?

[The quality is] secondary for Mickey fans. They only buy a piece of clothing because the character is on it. We have also investigated that. Only 5 percent of our customers buy Donaldson for Mickey's sake. Of course we will lose customers because of our decision. But we are convinced that we will win many more.”4

It was not to be. Modrikamen's leadership of Donaldson drew the attention of the courts. Donaldson's bankruptcy was declared the next year, and the financial crisis of 2008 sealed its fate. Szwarcburt had to watch from the sidelines as his beloved brand came to an end. Mickey's replacement, a meaningless dog according to Szwarcburt, adorned the ephemeral last collection, which was only in stores for two months.5


  1. Claeys, Guinevere. Twintig Jaar Met Mickey. Knack Weekend, 7 Sept. 2005,
  2. Vanden Driessche, Martine. L’irresistible Ascension De Marcy Szwarcburt. Le Soir, 3 Nov. 1989,
  3. Vanesse, Marc. La Societe Belge Donaldson Se Lance Dans La Guerre Du Faux Mickey et Donald sans Contrefacon. Le Soir, 6 Nov. 1992,
  4. Claeys, Jan. Donaldson Zet Mickey Aan de Deur. Het Nieuwsblad, 19 Dec. 2007,
  5. De Kapitaalbewegingen Bij Donaldson Die Modrikamen in de Problemen Brachten. Trends, 1 Apr. 2010,

Press days

“I still remember Donaldson's press days, in the headquarters in the middle of the Marolles in Brussels. You came out of the elevator and immediately found yourself face to face with the fascinating world of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. The loft was a succession of rooms that captured the imagination. In one you sat on a rocking chair on a porch in Long Island, another made you dream of an island in the archipelago around Stockholm. It all had a great bon chic, bon genre vibe; that meant just shy of being too classical at the time.”
— Fashion journalist Veerle Windels recalling Donaldson in De Standaard🔗

Donaldson's American Dream, illustrated


To be expanded


Donaldson also released furniture.

A lifestyle brand

In 1992, Szwarcburt commissioned a custom Rover Mini Cooper. Painted in the navy blue, a color commonly associated with Donaldson, it even has the Donaldson logo mounted on top of the Cooper Mini emblem.