Industry Thoughts on Jil Sander Move

The designer’s return to her namesake label generated a range of reactions from retailers and editors.

MILAN — Jil Sander’s return to her namesake label generated reactions ranging from enthusiasm to wait and see. Here’s what retailers and editors had to say:

This story first appeared in the February 27, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Christiane Arp, editor in chief of Vogue Germany: “There’s not a lot of fashion like Sander’s out there at the moment. I think the success of Celine, for example, is that the fashion on the runway is so close to what women want — and that’s what Jil did. She made fashion that women wanted to wear. And I think the lines of people waiting outside Uniqlo showed there’s still a fascination for fashion from Jil Sander.”

Ron Frasch, president and chief merchandising officer, Saks Fifth Avenue: “I think it’s exciting. She’s an enormous talent. To bring her vision back to her own house, I think it will be very good for the brand and for the business.”

RELATED STORY: Jil Sander Makes Her Return >>

Glenda Bailey, editor in chief, Harper’s Bazaar: “I think (Raf Simons) has done wonderful things for Jil Sander. He’s really created a very modern vision for that brand and has done an exceptional job. I have great respect for Jil Sander herself and really, when you think about it, she actually pioneered a particularly influential and important look, which a lot of designers have been hugely influenced by, so I’m very intrigued to see what she’ll do next. I think that Jil Sander is incredibly strong and always will be in her choices of getting the very best.”

Franca Sozzani, editor in chief of Vogue Italia: “(Raf Simons) is a very talented designer, did a fantastic job and he deserves the best. (He) kept up the brand’s name and this is very important because, as Jil Sander the designer returns to her label, she finds it strong and this is an advantage.”

Cindy Ho, fashion director of 360 Style in Kuwait: “Raf is great designer and it was a big surprise to see him leave Jil. I think he has done an amazing job there by bringing the modernity to the brand. However, what can be the best for a brand to have the one who created it to continue the creation. We are so much looking forward and happy for Jil to be back. We missed her!”

Barbara Atkin, vice president, fashion direction, Holt Renfrew: “Raf Simons did an excellent job on expanding the target customer. With Jil back at the helm along with her experience at Uniqlo, hopefully she will be able to work on balancing the price architecture for the collection and focus her energies on developing a strong leather goods business that is much needed if Jil Sander is to be a commercially successful luxury brand for the next century. Raf Simons definitely brought a strong editorial voice to the Jil Sander label and has made a strong name for himself as an important designer for the future.”

RELATED STORY: Jil Sander RTW Fall 2012 >>

Jeffrey Kalinsky, executive vice president of designer merchandising, Nordstrom: “In my career, I have always worshiped at the shrine of Jil Sander. Her talents are immeasurable! Having the founder back can only be a good thing for the collection and for the business. Raf Simons gave the Jil Sander brand a much-needed new identity at the time he worked there, and we enjoyed a great men’s and women’s business under his tenure.”

Daniella Vitale, chief merchant and executive vice president, Barneys New York: “We’re certainly sad to see (Simons) go, but I think it’s a positive for the house and Jil coming back. We look forward to seeing what she can resurrect. We have been very long partners with them, so we view it in a positive way.”

Linda Wells, editor in chief, Allure: “’I’m excited about it. I have this nostalgic, romantic attachment to Jil at her own label. I feel like she’s had a different chapter in her life with Uniqlo, and I think she will bring something new and unexpected.”

Klaus Ritzenhöfer, co-owner of Apropos The Concept Store, Cologne and Düsseldorf :“Jil Sander’s planned return to her former luxury fashion house is for us and especially for our customers stupendous news. Her clear design vision corresponds completely with Apropos: we love her aesthetic aspirations. With the good memories of her last return, we greatly look forward to our future cooperation.”

Marion Heinrich, owner, Marion Heinrich stores, Munich: “Honestly, I find it great. I think a great deal of Jil Sander. And we’re in a time when people place a great deal of importance on fabrics, and that’s always been Jil’s thing. And yes, on one side we have a hippie look but on the other a beautiful, classic elegance and that’s what Jil can do fantastically. Women who love Hermès Kelly bags will love her blend of rich elegance with super materials and forms.”

Linda Fargo, senior vice president, fashion office and store presentation, Bergdorf Goodman: “(Raf Simons) did something which was so difficult. He interpreted the DNA perfectly and, then, made it his own and brought something to it. I am sorry not to see him creating for Jil Sander anymore, but I am 100 percent sure we will see him again.” As for Sander herself, Fargo said, “I am very curious to see where she is now. I know there will always be something very pure in everything she does.”

Armando Mammina, Milan-based marketing and strategic consultant: Since “Raf Simons’ DNA was strong,” retailers are not overtly enthusiastic yet. “It’s complex to come back and retailers and licensees will wait two or three seasons before committing. It’s a business and, at the end of the day, the numbers do the talking.”