Heidemarie Jiline Sander, born in 27 November 1943, is a German fashion designer and the founder of fashion house Jil Sander S.p.A. In 2013, she was included in the list of best dressed people over the age of fifty, by Guardian. She has been named the Queen of Less by the fashion industry.
In 1968, she established her fashion house in Hamburg, Germany and her business flourished between the 1980s and 1990s. The Prada fashion group purchased seventy-five percent of the shares in the company in 1999. Even after this change, she remained affiliated with her business by becoming the creative designer and chairperson of the board. After some confrontations with the CEO of Prada, Patrizio Bertelli, she left the company and with her most of the staff quit. After this, in 2002, the company went flat on sale and suffered a huge loss. It lost more than 25 million Euros.
Seeing this downfall, in 2003, Sander returned as a partner and chief designer at the company she once founded. The whole situation was rather humorous and ironic because Bertelli was the one to say that the Jil Sander brand can survive even without the designer herself and it was Prada’s CEO who approached Sander to negotiate terms to convince her to re-connect with the label. She signed a six year contract, received the company’s stake and was given a seat on the strategic board of Prada.
However, in 2004 she quit her involvement from the brand because of differences between her and Bertelli. In 2009, she founded her fashion consultancy agency and its first client was from Japan, Fast Retailing with its label, called Uniqlo. Sander oversaw their menswear and womenswear collections, known as +J. The first range included coats, knitwear, jackets, accessories and t-shirts with a minimalist approach and decorous hues. The other line was launched across Asia, counting South Korea, China, Hong Kong and Japan. After three years, the parent company of Uniqlo announced that their partnership with Sander will not be renewed. The last range of items was disclosed in 2011 Fall and Winter season. The split between the two parties was mutual.
In 2012, Jil Sander returned to her company but left it once again in 2013. This fluctuation stresses two things: she wasn’t able to forget her own label that she gave birth to, and secondly Bertelli became a barrier between her and her label.
After Sander left her company, she visited several countries including Near East, Africa, Iran and Russia. She always wanted to explore theses places but due to work didn’t get a vacation. Sander began dedicating time to gardening and reading books. During this time, she kept a close eye on the art world and continued with her career, figuring which job offer to accept.
In an interview with Elle (United Kingdom), she listed the three fashion items without which she cannot survive. They were: dark colored jeans, white stylish yet simple shirt and a customized navy coat.
The designer believes in living a simple life, following her dreams and always remembering that life can take an abrupt turn any second. Apart from this, she hopes to continue to remain creative even if she turns very old.
Moving on, the Federal Republic of Germany presented her with the Bundesverdienstkreuz award for her achievements in the fashion industry.