By  on October 28, 2011

When Raf Simons arrived at Jil Sander in 2005, he found a fashion house with a cultlike, almost monolithic following — with a set of customers who would wear only Jil Sander, head-to-toe. He knew he had to respect the existing fans while attracting new ones to secure the brand’s future, so he set out to shake things up a bit.

“There was a huge audience back in the day and, for them, Jil Sander was only a double-face cashmere coat in a camel color, a white shirt, black pants and nothing else,” recalled Simons. It’s Thursday and he’s sitting inside the lobby of Chelsea’s Maritime Hotel after arriving in New York from Tokyo, where he held a runway show for his spring Jil Sander collection and promoted the upcoming release of “I Am Love,” the 2009 Italian film for which he designed Tilda Swinton’s wardrobe.

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