Fashion Biography

Jil Sander, Fashion Designer


Fashion Designer Heidemarie Jiline Sander was born in 1943 in Wesselburen/ Dithmarschen in Northern Germany. After her graduation from a school of textile engineering and two years in the United States, she began working as an editor for fashion magazines in 1963. She opened up her first boutique in 1968, in Hamburg. By then she designed a collection for the chemical company Hoechst using their Trevira fabrics. The first collection under her own label hit the market in 1973. Her designs are often compared with the Bauhaus architecture of the 1920s. Jil Sander herself refers to her stubborn character, when explaining why she notoriously returns to simple lines in cut and a highly sophistcated choice in fabric. Early on, Jil Sander enriched her collection by offering mostly coordinates, so that pieces could be combined freely. The delicacy of the colors, fabrics, and shapes Jil Sander chooses is aimed at women who prefer a distinguished and fitting look in every situation. These modern, self confident women look for subtlety and elegence in their appearence. Thus, the collections of Jil Sander avoid loud colors, are spartan in print, and are economical in the use of accessories.

Jil Sander controls most of her business herself. She is fully involved in the design process, starting with the choice of fabric, up to the quality control of the finished garments. She also surveys the marketing of her products tightly. The fact that she outlined the design of her own stores up to every little detail caught much attention in the press recently. There are strict rules for the behavior of the personnel, up to the exact positioning of each salesperson in the boutique.

For some years now, frequent announcements of the introduction of a men"s wear collection have been accompanied by a postponement shortly afterwards. In the early nineties, the head of design of the German men"s wear company BOSS, Werner Baldessarini, was asked to support Ms. Sander in establishing a men"s line. Baldessarini"s leaving BOSS was eventually prevented by offering him a seat on the board of BOSS, in a addition to his own high fashion design line, now selling under the Baldessarini by Hugo Boss label. In May 1996, Jil Sander announced the men"s collection again, this time for 1997(our picture shows Jil Sander with the model Nadja Auermann).

Ownership Stocks of the Jil Sander AG are publically traded at the Frankfurt stock exchange, but the majority of assets is still held by Ms. Sander.

Performance In 1995, total sales of the Jil Sander group rose by 8.2% compared to 1994 to $114 million. Net profits followed sales, rising 4.1% to $8.6 million. In 1996 then, sales increased again to $115 million. Net profits in 1996 decreased to $7.4 million. For the first half of 1997 there are slightly increasing sales, but again decreasing profits reported.

Divided by region, 1995 sales increased highest in Asia (plus 52.2%) followed by North America (slowing down to plus 23.2% after plus 60.3% in 1994). The share of the North American contribution to total sales is only 12%. Germany accounted for 45% of sales. Sales to German customers decreased by 2.2% in 1995. A slight increase in sales in Germany could be reported in 1996. In 1996, 70% of total sales are achieved in Europe (44% alone in Germany), 15% in Asia, and 12% in North America. While European sales are less than in the previous period, Asian sales have increased most significantly (plus 43%). The sales reduction in Europe in partly due to the reduction of the number of retailers in Germany and Italy as a move to sell the label more selectively.

In 1995, $111 million of the total group sales are achieved only with fashion, without the contribution of license fees. In 1994, earnings from license agreements decreased to $3.7 million from $4.3 million in 1993. This was partly due to the elmination of 25% of the cosmetics product range between 1994 and 1995. The new men"s collection contributed $9.3 million to total Jil Sander sales. Products worth $25 million were sold in 1995 in Jil Sander boutiques. In 1996, even more sales could be achieved through company owned distribution: $26 million, which makes up 22.4% of total sales.

Financial Standing/ Investments Assets of the company covered 70% of the debt in 1994, which provides a solid foundation for future investments. The cash flow of the company (reduced by the dividend) is sufficient to cover long term investments, reduce short term debt, and build up liquidity reserves for the future. The company has invested in 1995 $4 million, in 1996 $14.9 million, and plans to invest another $16.6 million in 1997. Investments for 1996 included $2 million which were brought up for the development of the new men"s line. Most of the investments will be made in order to build a net of flagship stores and showrooms around the world, which can be used as a marketing model for future franchise partners.

Distribution In 1996, the company claimed 54 boutiques exclusively devoted to Jil Sander. 7 of those (6 in Germany) are company owned stores, including the flagship store in Paris, which opened in 1993. Jil Sander plans to pursue a strong expansion policy in North America for 1996 which reflects the great success in this market. Therefore, the number shop in shops has been increased to 32. Several new ones have been opened, including a large boutique at Saks Fifth Avenue in Philadelphia. To achieve her expansion plans, Jil Sander founded a separate division handling the North and South America business, and one also for the booming Italian market. In Asia, Jil Sander has also set up several franchise stores. The stores planned for London, Zurich, Long Island, Osaka, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Seoul will all be designed in the same mode of the Paris flagship store.

Production/ Licences Jil Sander clothes are produced in Itlay and Germany. Licensed products include Jil Sander Eyewear, Jil Sander Leather, and JS Cosmetics. Eyewear is now produced under license by the French eyewear designer Alain Mikli. Jil Sander is already thinking about new products to be licensed, like underwear, socks, and ties.

German minimalist fashion house Jil Sander became a subsidiary of Italian firm Prada in 1999. In what has become an on again, off again relationship, Sander herself returned to head her namesake company"s creative direction in 2003 after having been ousted during the buyout, only to depart a second time in 2004.

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By Courtney Lynne
I am an analyst by profession and researching is my passion. I also love to share my knowledge. Contact me on Google + and Twitter. Find us on Google+



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