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Creator of one of the most innovative movements within the industry, Jil Sander is the epitome of all things minimalist and still to this day is recognised as one of the most empowering designers of all time. From the very beginning of Sander’s journey her aim has always been to provide consumers with the highest quality garments which promise to last a lifetime, whilst achieving that understated but luxurious aesthetic. Within this report we not only cover the history and reinventions of the brand but also the development to adapt to emerging markets.



Founded In Hamburg in 1968, Sanders vision was to establish a collection of ready to wear apparel that wouldn’t overshadow the consumer, giving them a sense of purity and strength. She once stated ‘I think there is always a need for pure design. With pure design, you don’t need so much decoration’ .However with the launch of her first womenswear collection in 1975, unfortunately it was poorly received as critics weren’t overly keen on her understated style. However it didn’t take long until Sander gained popularity for her innovative ideas, and by the end of the decade she had branched out and launched an accessory line and also a fragrance collection.



Following the success with her brand extensions, she decided it was time for the brand to go public and listed It on the Frankfurt stock exchange in 1989. For Sander this move was the pinnacle of her triumph as the capital raised allowed her to expand internationally into both Asia and America.

Once again the brand extended their product offer to eyewear and leatherwear, and soon after their very first menswear collection made an appearance in 1997. Just one year later a cooperation with the renowned sports Brand Puma occured, one of the first to blur the lines between sport and fashion. Due to the large range of products that were now available, the brands target demographic increased massively, giving Jil Sander a platform to take the brand in any way she wanted.


perfume collection launched 1979

prada investment 1999

raf simons takes over 2005 Luke and Lucie Meier are the current creative directors

accessories and leatherwear launch Founded in Hamburg, 1968

Womenswear launch 1975

collab with uniqlo financial issues after the departure of jil sander, 2001

menswear launch 1997


Rodolfo Paglialunga takes over

1999 was a significant year for the company, as Prada invested a 75% share in an attempt to assist Sander to the top of the industry. As Jil Sander continued as creative director and took on the role as chairwoman, this powerhouse collaboration soon reached difficulty after rumoured conflict with Prada’s chief executive Patrizio Bertelli. Just six months after the partnership Jil Sander decided to resign, however little did she know that the company were about to encounter financial issues and in 2001 reports were made that there had been a net loss of $9.4 million. Returning to the scene in 2003 following these issues, it soon became apparent that the partnership with Bertelli wasn’t going as smoothly as initially planned, leading to the termination of the cooperation.

Adopting the brand in an attempt to supply a new lease of life was the talented Raf Simons, in 2005 he chose to take on the role of creative director for both mens and womenswear, stating that the company ‘could not evolve unless it was given more freedom’. Fortunately Simons’ cutting edge approach to the fall 2006 collection payed off, with critics describing him as ‘ the son of Jil Sander’. Moving forward to 2008, the brand was bought by a Japanese multi- brand fashion union for an estimated $244 million. During the year after Sander joined forces with the Japanese casualwear retailer ‘Uniqlo’ , in which was a strong success for three years before coming to a mutual decision to end the association.

Reappearing once again Sander decided to make a come back after Raf simons’ last season, but yet again she left in 2014 due to ‘personal reasons’, causing the brand to switch hands again. After three thriving years as creative director, Rodolfo Paglialunga departed as the extremely talented husband and wife - Luke and Lucie Meier took his place in 2017. With oodles of experience, the couple are set out to revive the brand by bringing a so called ‘fresh combination of high fashion design and modern streetwear’ .




Identified as ‘the queen of less’, Jil Sander built her brand to become one of the most current and exclusive within the industry, this idea continues throughout both the products and their marketing techniques. When we look at the overall aesthetic, as a consumer we’re instantly aware that the label is premium due to the use of clean lines and clever composition within all aspects of their marketing. The logo of the brand clearly illustrates the theme of the label, due to its simplicity and bold font. When it comes to the house style, the overriding colour palette is neutral as it repeats the idea of modernity and simplicity.

In terms of the USP, consumers are driven to Sander for the excellent quality and fit, this way they’re assured that the product will be long-lasting and they wont have to repurchase the same product in the near future. it comes to the positioning of the brand, you could associate it with items such as a classic Calvin Klein dress or an Acne Studios bag, as they both have an effortless, contemporary feel to them.


Over the years leverage and expansion have played a crucial part in the success of the brand, as it welcomes a new customer base leading to an increase of the brands awareness. Sander first expanded into fragrances in 1979 with her ‘woman pure’ fragrance, intended for the woman who can conquer anything. Still to this day the fragrances for both men and women are intended to empower whilst giving them a sense of purity. The next launch was in 1996 where both accessories and leatherwear was introduced, once again imitating the signature streamline style that Jil Sander is recognised for. As a designer, she had always been influenced by the architectural characteristics of mens suits, therefore the release of her own menswear collection in 1997 only seemed fitting. Allowing both genders to get a slice of the minimalist movement.

In terms of visual identity, the brands advertisements have remained very much the same over the years, focusing on a strong balance between positive and negative space in order to highlight the purity of the products. In more recent years the brand has begun to produce campaigns in a much more surreal way, for instance the series of short films for their Spring 2018 campaign (shot by Wim Wenders), has a much more unconventional, mysterious aura to it. The inclusion of fashion films within their marketing strategy could potentially attract a younger audience to the brand, giving them an opportunity in the future to expand their product range further. When it comes to tracking brand equity, they achieve exclusivity purely through the lack of advertisement with consumers, reaching the majority of their audience through word of mouth.



Following the closure of the London flagship store, the only way their audience can purchase is either online or through department stores such as Selfridges. Yet moving to a concession can really downgrade the browsing experience for the customer, as the visual merchandising and capacity within the store is massively restricted. Also many only wish to buy after physically entering a store and getting a sense of the product, therefore competitors have the opportunity to steal their custom. After all one advantage of Jil Sander directing their products at a niche market is that they will always have consumers wanting quality and fit over logo branded products, therefore they know they need to invest in that sector In order to keep their reputation up.

Described as ‘more individual than ever before’ the consumer of today is constantly adapting to new influences and trends mostly created through social media. One factor that has largely increased the recognition of minimalist products in recent years is the trend known as ‘ clean living’. This is based on the idea of not indulging on anything unhealthy, linking in with the idea of minimalism and wellness. For many people this concept even influenced them to turn to more unembellished fashion brands, like Acne Studios, Calvin Klein and Jil Sander.




Size range: XXS- XXL Products currently on offer: Accessories - bags - coats and jackets dresses - fragrances - jewellery knitwear - shirts - shoes - skirts trousers - t-shirts and tops.


Each of the products have a durable and luxurious feel to them, and tend to conform to a neutral/monotone colour palette with hints of bright colour now and again. The overall aesthetic of the garments is oversized but at the same time tailored to fit the body, in order to achieve that androgynous look the brand is acclaimed for.

When the company started out, their first collection consisted of 140+ items all under $150, created in different shades of khaki. As Jil Sander rose to fame the company had to set and maintain higher prices to reflect the quality of the products and to live up to their premium status. However the brands extension into fragrances was a smart move as they chose to price that range at a relatively low price, meaning that they could reach a whole new level of customers. With their fragrances starting at a price of £21, this means potential customers with a low income can afford to get a pinch of the label without having to spend a lot.

On the contrast, customers with an average to high income could afford the signature triangle clutch bag which would set you back £330. High income earners could spend up to £3,890 if they were looking for one of the

highest quality coats from the brand. In 2001 huge financial losses occurred after the departure of Jil Sander herself, this forced the brand to increase their prices following the issue in order to rebuild revenue.

In terms of growth market share, the stars within the company are the bags as they currently have a high market share and have plenty of opportunities to develop the present styles on offer. In addition to that, currently on the Jil Sander Website they’re holding a sale which has lead to most of the styles being sold out. For many years the white shirt has been a staple for the brand and after the launch of many different adaptations it’s still continuing to do well in a no growth market with little opportunities.

The question mark within the current product portfolio is the accessories, as they don’t have a large share in the market however there is scope to expand further, e.g hats, scarfs, hair accessories etc. The dog within the brand is their Fragrances as they’re mostly priced at a low range yet not promoted to the right market. For instance the typical Jil Sander consumer will only pay high prices as they’re assured great quality in return, however the fact that the fragrances are priced a considerable amount lower might create doubt within them.


Sander distributes to Europe, USA and Japan Via online platforms, flagship or department stores such as Selfridges and Harvey Nichols. Reiterating the brands exclusivity, their marketing strategies are very limited and reserved in the sense that they have a very little presence on social media/ online platforms.

Sander’s current approach to advertisement could mean that they’re missing out on reaching a huge number of potential customers. With over a massive 18.6K followers, their Twitter account has the possibility to really entice consumers with refreshing content and engage with new markets, however this is not the case as their tweets are irregular and lack excitement.

Their main focus is updating followers on which magazine issues they’re featuring in at the moment, yet with no use of compelling hashtags or surprises this platform isn’t that successful when it comes to promotion. In terms of direct marketing, once again they are missing out on so many opportunities to create desire within consumers, as they only have a newsletter subscription available at this present moment.


In 2010 the brand upped their game featuring the Victoria Secret




in their Fall campaign. The involvement




acclaimed model meant that a younger market were exposed to the brand, increasing their recognition



generation which may not have been aware of the brand before.




il Sanders main target markets are Germany, Austria and Switzerland, however more recently there has been a lot more demand for the brand in Japan and China. The target demographic for most of their campaigns are high paid, work orientated individuals aged between 25- 40. The typical consumer wants contemporary but sophisticated garments that are made to last, which can easily be mixed and matched without taking too much time out of their busy schedule. Looking ‘on trend’ is not their aim, they simply want luxury items that are tailored to exceptional standard without the fuss of decoration. According to Mintel (figure 30, ‘clothing, shoes and a ccessories buying behaviours’ - September 2016) 73% of shoppers said they prefer to avoid ‘label heavy’ and over branded designs. In recent years, high end brands known for their prominent branding such as Louis Vuitton have had to adapt their designs in order to fulfil the consumers change in needs, as the demand for a more discreet look was rising. This lead to a rise in popularity for brands such as Rag and Bone, Jil Sander and Calvin Klein. Jil Sanders designs haven’t dramatically changed over the years due to the fact that their target consumers needs have considerably stayed the same. However the first glimpse of Lucie and Luke Meiers resort 2018 collection showed a refreshing new approach to the brand. Whilst Lucie described the collection as ‘feminine, light, and sensual’, there was an new element of colour blocking and Macramé added to the mix which had never been seen before from the brand.

Moving on to emerging markets, during an interview in 2017 Jil Sander revealed she ‘would be interested in doing an extremely effective beauty line’, possibly giving the brand a whole new lease of life and exposing itself to a completely new market. With brands such as The Or dinary and Glossier at the forefront of minimal beauty/skincare, there is a definitely a lot of potential for Jil Sander to gain success in this sector.



MACRO TRENDS FORECAST/ 2019 -(Accoring to WGSN 2018) The emerging consumers of 2019 are forecast to want more transparency and truth than ever before, and with ‘Creativity and self-expression’ becoming even more popular Jil Sander might need to step out of their comfort zone in order to fulfil the needs of their market. -As consumers are getting increasingly wrapped up in social media, next year is set to be the time to reconnect with the real world with brands ‘designing for feelings, as we enter a new emotional era.’ In effect this makes it even more difficult for brands like Jil Sander as they might have to consider repositioning their branding in order to really engage with emerging consumers.




Even though Jil Sander is considerably under the radar in comparison to other premium, ready-to-wear brands, it does compete with the likes of Calvin Klein, Helmut Lang and Acne Studios. For example they all have a similar appearance and personality, yet all contrast when it comes to price points and product offer. When comparing Jil Sander with Calvin Klein, there’s a clear separation when it comes to quality as Sanders garments are always made with specific care and detail, unlike Calvin Klein which is largely mass produced therefore the quality can’t be matched. Even with similar products on offer, Jil Sander is a lot more limited as they only have minimal variations of styles because they want to stick to the idea of creating a simple experience for the consumer.

As ‘fast fashion’ is taking over the industry, high street brand Zara is a likely competitor for Jil Sander as it’s easily available for those consumers who want understated garments but with more variation. Even though they don’t match when it comes to quality,the fit of garments from Zara is a lot more superior than other high street names, allowing those consumers who were once willing to splurge on an item from Sander to get a look alike for much less. In terms of counterfeit goods, they’ve never really been an issue for the brand as the majority of people look for monogrammed fakes and a typical Jil Sander product isn’t that easy to recognise.







Before Jil Sander decides to open a new store in a different country, they have to be aware of the governments policies before making any further steps as this could affect the operation in the future if there was any change. Employment laws also directly effect the business because even though they enable better rights for employees, it does cost the company in which may lead to them having to make cuts else where.


According to the financial report the company has ‘ entirely rebalanced its economic and financial management’ following losses during 2013 (WGSN 2014). However Jil Sander need to supervise the economic climate In order to plan ahead for changing factors like inflation and supply and demand issues. If the inflation rate was to increase then the company would have to reconsider their prices, as consumers will have less disposable income and will be less willing to make large investments.


As brands ethical practices and CSR are increasingly being exposed, consumers are becoming more aware of where they shop, preferring to invest in more sustainable/ ethical brands. As Jil Sander doesn’t publicly provide any information on this subject, both current and potential customers may choose to shop elsewhere.



Due to the lack of presence on social media, Jil Sander are cutting off a huge potential market and also missing out on the opportunity to engage with current consumers to keep them loyal to the brand. Likewise the website isn’t very informative so consumers may feel uncertain when purchasing online, potentially persuading them to purchase through third party websites such as NetAPorter. Also with the industry rapidly advancing in technology, the brand will need to utilise platforms like Instagram and Snapchat in order to keep up with competitors.


The brand such as satisfied

has to make sure they are safety regulations and and to

keeping minimum retain


top wages

of any changes in in order to their brand

employment laws, keep employees reputation.


The Jil Sander consumer is most likely to be educated on relevant environmental issues, therefore it’s essential that the brand looks into ethical sourcing of it’s materials otherwise they could lose loyal customers to more ecofriendly brands such as Stella McCartney. The parent company of Jil Sander, (Onward Holdings Co. Ltd) stated in their 2016 annual report that ‘In relation to ethics, we have instituted a factory certification system, the goal of which is to improve worker benefits and work environments.’







strong consumer base


Built a trustworthy reputation over the last 50+ years


Worldwide brand recognition due to international expansion


Produce for a niche market


Collaborated with the likes of Puma, COS and Uniqlo.



lack of advertising and information about the brand (both analog and digital)


Minimal range/ lack of variety - products

- of

Ownership has shifted numerous times which could have potentially affected the progress the brand, e.g missed opportunities to develop their marketing strategy over time.


Missing out on potential new consumers due to the extremely low key/traditional marketing




to build their online presence via social media platforms in order to engage with consumers better.


Develop the website further so consumers feel more confident when making a purchase.


To use sustainable materials in order to improve CSR


Use celebrity endorsement


Potential expansion into childrenswear and beauty.




The lack of sustainability within the brand could lead consumers to switch to a more ethical brand.


Increasing competition from high street brands such as Zara and Stradivarius, as they recreate minimal style at a much lower cost.


-For consumers to feel more confident when making a purchase they could include information about their ethical practices or give customers more of an insight into the brand via their website. When conducting my own research i found that 60% of young adults would be more inclined to buy from a brand that has good ethical practices.


There is a huge opportunity for Jil Sander to connect more with current and also potential consumers, which could be achieved through making use of platforms such as instagram, Snapchat or even by creating a blog. this strategy would give the brand a much more contemporary/ updated feel whilst still keeping the costs down. When conducting my own research i found that the majority of young adults had never heard of the brand before, which illustrates the lack of communication with this huge market.


-Hines T, Bruce, M (2001). Fashion marketing, contemporary issues [Place of publication not identified] (accessed 07/02/18)

-Author Unknown. (2014). The Fashion Book. London. Phaidon Press Limited (accessed 02/01/18) (accessed 10/01/18) (accessed 29/01/18) accessed (29/12/17) (accessed 29/12/17) (accessed 01/02/18) (accessed 01/02/18) (accessed 03/02/18) (accessed 03/02/18) (accessed 01/02/18) (accessed 12/02/18) (accessed 01/02/18) (accessed 12/01/18) (accessed 01/02/18) (accessed 9/02/18) (accessed 12/02/18) (accessed 01/02/18) (accessed 11/02/18) medium=email (accessed 27/01/18) (accessed 01/02/18) (accessed 12/02/18) (accessed 10/02/18) (accessed 10/02/18) (accessed 10/02/18) (accessed 10/12/18) (accessed 20/01/2018) (accessed 20/01/18) (accessed 12/02/18)


Profile for lucy blenkinsop

Jil Sander Brand Report  

Jil Sander Brand Report