MILAN — Lucie and Luke Meier decided to do it their own way for spring. Putting in practice what for many remained a mere lockdown rumination, the Jil Sander creative directors opted for not sticking to fashion week deadlines and took the time they felt was required to create a short movie, which on Oct. 8 showcased their spring 2021 collection.
Describing the decision as “liberating,” the Meiers, during a Zoom video call, discussed their vision of the digital format, the new challenges the industry will have to face — and explained why integrity, authenticity and precision will be key to remaining relevant.
WWD: Let’s talk about the digital medium. Did you feel you were more in control on the final visual delivery of the collection than with a live show?
Luke Meier: For sure you have more control over the final outcome, absolutely. Sometimes I’m not sure that’s a good thing. When you think about the shows, they are so spontaneous. Sometimes you just have a lineup and then the magical thing happens. A lot of artists like to keep the little door of chance open. You cannot control everything. In a way you shouldn’t even try. We also don’t like to retouch our stuff too much, either. There is something nice about being very real. Sometimes when you perfect things too much, you lose a lot of that soul and spirit.
WWD: Do you miss runway shows? Are you keen to return to that format?
Luke Meier: We love shows, we really, really like them. It’s impossible to re-create that moment: its chances, its atmosphere, the people in the room, its temperature, its light. This moment when everything comes together. But what I think will be interesting in the future, what is important and what people are starting to understand now is how to reach people who aren’t in the room, how to reach people that are watching from afar. So, how do you get across that emotion in a way that still resonates into people? A lesson that we can learn from right now is that if we go back to the show it’s important that people who are not able to be there also can enjoy the experience. So maybe there is a way of re-creating the sound, the film, the visual to make it closer. It will never replicate. You can’t put the atmosphere of the show online, but we might all do a better job of being more inclusive and just better at translating the feeling in other ways.
WWD: The last time we met in July, you had already decided that you wouldn’t host a live show in September. Did this decision have an impact on the designing phase?
Lucie Meier: I don’t think we have ever designed for digital. We design the garments that we feel are right for the moment in the best way they should be. We never compromise our design for the medium, basically. It’s really about the garment that is close to perfect. And it’s about finding the right way of showing it. Also with the video, we were able to show all the angles, it offered many possibilities but it’s definitely not designed for the digital experience.
Luke Meier: Probably a lot of the time people think about the delivery of their ideas. But actually, I think that with the digital format you have more chances to design what you want and then show what you really want. When you think about the runway, you have this front photographs, basically the back doesn’t matter. In a digital format, it doesn’t really matter because you can photograph from every angle, you can only show the back if you want, film in all kinds of different ways. The thing for us is that we don’t really care about that. We create what we want.
Lucie Meier: And the end, what really counts is the garment. That’s what you want to see on people, that’s what you want to live with them, that’s more important than the picture.
WWD: In this moment of uncertainty, are you feeling more pressure coming from the market in terms of merchandising and collection development?
Lucie Meier: We don’t feel the pressure of the market. We feel the way we feel. It’s very intuitive. Probably the idea of focusing more on daywear also came from the fact that currently there are not so many occasions to go out in the evening, but it didn’t come from the market. It’s more a personal feeling that we had. We feel that life has to go on. I feel that people have to learn how to deal with it and go on with their lives, but that’s my personal feeling. For us, it’s important to stay positive and lift some spirits. We all need something that makes you feel good.
Luke Meier: I think it’s also our job to feel what’s appropriate for right now. I think that if we have to react only to what the market asks for, we are not really doing our job properly. I think that we have to try to ask the question: six months from now, what will really matter to people or to us?
WWD: How is the business going?
Luke Meier: I think it’s quite tough out there now. We are actually doing quite well in regards to what we see here. Since COVID-19 started, our results in wholesale have been pretty good. On the other side, we are seeing that some stores got out of business, or some suppliers got out of business as well. We are in a very fortunate position because we are still increasing.
Lucie Meier: I think it’s time to rethink many things. Probably people now have to do a better job since people are more selective. In a way, it brings us some positive things. The quality has to be better. Maybe there will be more focus on the offering, probably there was too much of everything and now finally we all have the opportunity to rethink how things are done.
WWD: Is the spring 2021 collection smaller than past lineups?
Lucie Meier: It is a bit less than last time. But our pre-collection was already more focused.
Luke Meier: COVID-19 aside, even before that, when you think about the impact of what we are making, in a lot of cases it feels much more modern and much more responsible to be very precise with everything. Our goal, and we are kind of challenging our team of designers, anything we do should be really, really excellent. Every garment, every piece, every fabric, they all have to have really reason to be there. It’s more difficult, because you have to go deep, you have to concentrate more, but it feels more modern to do like that, it feels really the right approach. The less waste, the better, in a sense. Brands should be kind of honest about what they do, and not try to please every single different kind of person.
WWD: Do you think that when this global emergency is over the industry will return to being what it was or things will really change?
Luke Meier: Optimistically, I hope people change their behavior a little bit, realistically I think people have very short-term memory. But I’m an optimistic kind of guy and I think that people can change, learn, get smarter. We all kind of have to be smarter.
Lucie Meier: People are always afraid of change but this time they are forced. For example, before the idea of presenting out of calendar would have been perceived like a shock wave. But now people are kind of more open to different ideas and formats. I don’t think there will be only one way to do things anymore.
WWD: What do you desire for the future of fashion?
Luke Meier: Ideally I hope that there will be real coordination between everything. I still think it’s nice to have events like that. The idea of fashion week isn’t bad if it’s all consolidating into one area or moment. That’s fine. I think it’s more the constant travel that if you are going to see everything you are on a plane all year round and it starts getting a bit crazy. Maybe the best idea would be to have everything in one place, like the World Cup or the Olympics, I don’t understand why they can’t keep everything in one place.
WWD: Honestly I think this won’t ever happen because everyone is so jealous of its own thing…
Luke Meier: I know…but we just have to be smarter though.