Back in February when Raf Simons was abruptly let go at Jil Sander after seasons of critically-acclaimed collections, fashion insiders were all asking the same question: Why? Was Simons starting his own line? Was he going to Dior? Was it politics? Personal differences?
But it turns out the reason was probably a whole lot simpler than that: Simons was let go because, well, he didn’t make the company any money. According to the Wall Street Journal, “during much of Simons’s tenure, the company remained solidly in the red.”
In fact, it wasn’t until last year that the company “almost broke even,” but, according to Jil Sander CEO Alessandro Cremonesi that was largely due to “cutting costs and a more selective distribution.”
Under Simons, Jil Sander did only about $140 million in annual sales, or, to put in perspective, roughly $100 million less turnover than when Sander was at the helm. Understandably, the brand’s board felt that the best way to get back to that level of profit was to reinstate Sander.
And they certainly didn’t waste any time–according to the WSJ, negotiations with Sander started as early as the summer of 2011 and were only delayed because of Sander’s deal with Uniqlo. As soon as the designer was able to “extricate” herself from her contract with the Japanese retailer in September, her return to the label was pretty much a sure bet–which means that while Simons’s departure from the brand was a shock to the fashion community, higher-ups at Jil Sander had known about it for at least six months.
But Jil Sander executives weren’t completely heartless. According to the WSJ, “it helped—-in Jil Sander executives’ view—-that Simons did not appear to be wedded to his job,” citing reports that Simons was being considered for both the Saint Laurent job and the Dior job.
Considering that Raf Simons landed on his feet at Dior–and both he and Sanders debuted well-received collections at their new gigs–we’d say everything probably worked out for the best.