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Article: The Magic of Jil Sander

The Magic of Jil Sander

Heidemarie Jiline Sander (or Jil Sander - Germany, 1943) first worked as an editor for fashion magazine Petra. In the midst of the 1970s, Jil did everything possible to steer the aesthetics of photographs towards the simplicity that preceded her. From the beginning, her vision was clear: less is more for Jil Sander clothing.

This clarity in her view of fashion would infiltrate her entire history. From a student at the Krefeld School of Textiles in Germany in 1963, to the owner of a $114 million empire in 1995. However, her path to simplicity was filled with chapters. It seemed that the accumulation of wisdom would nourish her ingenuity and her collections of minimalism.


From DE to L.A.: The Origin of Jil Sander Clothing

An exchange opportunity from her school in Germany to the University of California in 1963 opened the doors to an unforgettable moment. There, among the vastness of the space and the youth culture of the area, she discovered a sense of freedom and her youth. This freshness and innocence would shape a central axis of her future collections.

But being a designer was not in her plans until the opportunity presented itself. Petra magazine, where she worked, was known for constantly asking brands for alterations to their clothes. All in favour of a purity and simplicity that Jil had not found until then.

Until Hoechst, a chemical company developing a new synthetic fibre (named Trevira), needed advertising. After recognising Jil's creative essence, the company requested that their first collection with that fabric be designed entirely by her.


Less is More

In 1973, she launched her own brand under the name we know: JIL SANDER. In 1975, she had her first show in Paris and her first disenchantment with the industry.

Jil Sander's first clothing collection was centred around the new work uniform for women newly entering the labour market. Blouses, full suits, long coats, and elegant garments were the focus of her collection. From the beginning, simplicity was evident by prioritising silhouettes and ensembles over the aesthetic excesses of the time. Jil Sander's clothing aimed to stand out for its flattering and well-constructed nature, not for creating spectacle.

However, as maximalism was in vogue, Jil's fashion concept was not well received in her early years. Causing friction in a space does not symbolise a lack of talent. There is the concept of the right place, right time; and like with Jil, the industry still had to evolve to align with her proposal.

Her talent was noticed, and the new designer decided to focus on designing clothes with her supporters in mind.


A Change of Scene: Those Wonderful Nineties

Milan's fashion scene welcomed her with open arms. With the new concept of women's liberation and the development of the idea of the working woman, Jil Sander became the leading reference for the new work uniform for women.

Her success soared to such an extent that in the 80s, her eponymous company went public on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. With external investment added to her recent trajectory, the brand made its leap across the Atlantic. In the 90s, the brand we now know as Jil Sander fully blossomed.

During this time, she opened her first stores in New York and Paris and began her journey into the Asian market. By the end of a decade of iconic campaigns and images in magazines like Vogue, Dazed, and i-D, represented by major faces of the moment like Kate Moss, Shalom Harlow, and Amber Valletta, the Prada Group acquired 75% of the company.

Until 2013, Jil had another series of stints as a designer and fashion consultant. Among her most famous collaborations was her work with Uniqlo in 2009, 2011, 2014, and 2020. In 2021, Jil Sander became part of the OTB Group conglomerate.


Jil Sander by Lucie and Luke Meier

After Jil left her eponymous brand in 2004, a succession of designers followed until the present. Starting with Raf Simons and his famous tenure at Jil Sander (2005 to 2012), Rodrigo Paglialunga (until 2017), and finally Lucie and Luke Meier.

The creative duo, one of the most powerful couples in fashion, has enjoyed undeniable success. Both separately, with Luke at Supreme and OAMC, and Lucie at Vuitton, Balenciaga, and Dior; and together on their joint project: Jil Sander by Lucie and Luke Meier.

They are the first married couple to head a luxury brand. Since 2017, the minimalist essence of Jil Sander has merged with an artistic and contemporary perspective unique to the duo. Their connection to contemporaneity and visionary sensitivity has elevated the brand's garments to a new creative level: conceptual and essentialist ready-to-wear.

Details, volumes, colours, textures, organicity... All of this composes the famous Jil Sander uniform reinterpreted by Lucie and Luke Meier. Their success translates into a number one selling brand that has earned admiration both from long-time fans of the house and new eyes discovering fashion for the first time.

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