- The Origin: Jil Sander
- Jil Sander Style
- First Boutique
- Jil Sander Acquired by Prada Group
- Raf Simons
- Uniqlo J+
- Navy Collection
- Current Situation
German fashion designer and entrepreneur, Jil Sander, was born in 1943 in Wesselburen, near Hamburg. Jil is methodical and creative, reserved and determined, fragile and energetic. She has built an empire in just a few years that was quoted on the stock market in 1989. With a diploma in textile engineering from Germany, she went to Los Angeles at age 19, where she completed her studies and had her first experience as a journalist in the editorial office of McCalls. Returning to Hamburg, she became fashion editor for Costanze and Petra and took on management responsibilities. As a freelance designer, she worked with a number of firms, among them, Callaghan.
The most important representative of German fashion and one of the biggest names in international fashion, she has succeeded in creating a style that is intelligent, minimalist, and decidedly contemporary. “Strong and pure” are the adjectives that are often used to describe her designs. Considered the German Armani, her clothes are characterized by her use of neutral colors, purified lines, and full-bodied materials. Also, her cuts “made by the knife”, as she herself describes them, to create a femininity deprived of any frivolity, but not without a certain seductive austerity.
In 1968 she opened an avantgarde boutique in Hamburg, the first of its type, where she sold clothes that she designed alongside garments bought in Paris and Italy. Strengthened by this experience and with an ambitious project in mind, she opened Jil Sander Moden and presented her first real collection in 1973, with all her pieces in varying tones of khaki. She had a difficult start as a fashion designer wanting to create top quality modern clothes, but of too great an elegance to be produced in Germany, where luxury ready-to-wear was still unheard of. It was only natural that she found the necessary materials, firms, and people in Italy.
In 1975 she was in Paris where she presented two collections in successive seasons. Too purist for French taste, her runway shows were a flop. As a result, she was forced to move to Milan, a city which is more austere and therefore more in tune with her own personality.
The first Italian presentations were quite affairs reserved for just a few people, but the important buyers took note and were soon fighting for an exclusive deal over her work. Her designs for intelligent, independent, business-like women were very popular:
“The women who I think about when I am designing are very self-aware and full of self-respect,” she says.
Success came quickly and the purity of her designs, her constant research into materials, and her obsession with quality were all prized. In 1979 she launched Woman Pure, her first perfume, with an advertising campaign built around her own serene, fair and delicate features, ensuring herself instantaneous fame and creating a new stereotype for German women.
Her international reputation was confirmed in the following years as her business activities developed and moved into cosmetics, eyewear, leatherwear, and menswear that she showed in Milan in 1996. She has received numerous awards and prizes for her fashions and perfumes. With a passionate interest in contemporary art, she is a discerning collector and a generous sponsor of exhibitions of leading German artists such as Georg Baselitz and Joseph Beuys.
From Fall 1999, the Jil Sander label was part of the Prada Group. For 2001 the brand establish a record sales, with a 17% rise in profits. Unfortunately, in 2002 the brand lost 26 million euros, in part of the costs of adding retail stores in London and New York. The number of own-brand shops throughout the world rose to 20.
By May 2003 the Prada group thinks of saving the destiny of the company by calling back Jil Sander as head of the creative team. Bertelli “approached Ms. Sander and began negotiating a truce”. Rehired under a six-year consulting contract with an undisclosed stake in the company. Jil Sander returned to the company she founded, which had been controlled by the Prada Group since 1999.
However in July 2005, the creative director Belgian designer, Raf Simons took over Jil Sander after the umpteenth split with the Prada group, Simons will come to the brand to give it a particular international touch, much less rigid, by means of patterns and colours, new shapes and details.
In 2006 Prada declares it has sold it shares to Change Capital that is a specialist private equity firm founded by Luc Vandevelde, focus on consumer related businesses. Then, two years later in September 2008, Change Capital sold Jil sander to Onward Holding Co., Ltd, A Tokyo-listed apparel group and its European subsidiary, GIBO’ Co. S.p.A for a equity value of €167 million.
In 2009, Sander announced the creation of her own fashion consultancy having Uniqlo as their first client, where she overseeing the design for womenswear and menswear collection called J+. The line was launched throughout Asia including Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and China and on 7 January 2010 in the London stores. It is to be launched in Uniqlo’s sole US store in New York city on 14 January 2010.
In 2010 Sander decides to expand the brand and launch a new collection line called Jil Sander Navy, establishing a new branch for the a younger customers, completing the aesthetic world of the Jil Sander brand and its design philosophy of pure, essential and innovative luxury. This brand extension add a sophisticated casual and dynamic attitude to the house. A focus on innovative quality cotton, techno fabrics, jerseys and knitwear.
After Raf Simons presented the Fall 2012 collection, he announced his departure from the Milan based company welcoming Rodolfo Paglialunga, who will arrive to give an Italian detailed accuracy to brand. A year later, in October 2013, 69 years old Jil Sander left her label for the third time. She presented her last spring/summer 2014 collection during Milan fashion Week.
The Spring/Summer 2015 Ready-to-Wear collection, designed by Rodolfo Paglialunga, according to Vogue Tim Blanks it was a “coalescence of genders. There were fit issues throughout. Clunk was probably the best word for the drop-crotch culottes with the out-of-reach pockets. Same with the apron/skirt wrapped over whatever was underneath it, meaning that there was odd bunching when what was underneath had an elasticized waistband.”
After almost four years Pagilalunga, creative director, announces his retirement from the brand in March 2017. In April 2017, Lucie and Luke Meier, a husband and wife duo who have designed everywhere from Dior Haute Couture to Supreme, are named the new creative directors of the brand. The designers possess an intimate connection and a deep understanding. Their first collection is Resort 2018, which is a steady solid start for the duo. The collection was full of their aesthetics including elegance and purity made for fast paced city living.
“They hold a vision that is modern, cohesive, and in touch with what is relevant now, and they beautifully combine it with a subtle sensibility. I expect the creation of very clever collections and a world to be inspired by,” said Jil Sander CEO Alessandra Bettari.