A Jil Sander Interview Settles Some Questions About Raf Simons’s Exit

An enormous profile of and interview with Jil Sander has run in WSJ. Magazine, written by Dana Thomas, author of the book Deluxe (essential reading for anyone interested in the business of fashion or who thinks there’s still such a thing as luxury, real luxury). People are dissecting it for clues to Raf Simons’s puzzling departure earlier this year, apparently most surprised to learn that the seeds of his “dismissal” from Jil Sander seem to have been sowed before his talks with Dior began.

However, it was commonly known that Simons didn’t leave entirely of his own volition. Here’s what we found surprising: it appears it was not Jil Sander herself, but executives at Onward Holdings Co, the Japanese company that owns Jil Sander, who precipitated the chain of events, motivated by lackluster sales. “During much of Simons’s tenure, the company remained solidly in the red,” writes Thomas. “Today Jil Sander does about $140 million in annual sales; ideally, [the company] would like to return to the nearly $250 million turnover under Sander’s former reign.” That’s when they initiated “secret negotiations” with Jil Sander to see if she’d like a third go at her namesake label.

And so it seems that profits once again determined the fate of a critically hailed designer who otherwise was nothing less than a star. Although, while unceremoniously let go, he seems to have landed on his feet just fine, with an impressive first round of couture and ready-to-wear collections for Dior.

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