With an atypical background starting in furniture design, Raf Simons was able to utilize his structural, minimalist experience to flourish into one of the most influential designers in menswear & couture present day. Starting his eponymous label in 1995, Simons had various stints at Jil Sander, Fred Perry, and most recently at Dior from 2012- 2015 where he replaced the controversial John Galliano.
Simons studied industrial and furniture design in Genk, Belgium taking his degree in 1991, then initially going on with his career in furniture design. Immersed in the counterculture of early 90s Antwerp counterculture, particularly Antwerp Six, Simons was able to capture the city's energy through his pioneering vision with the burgeoning underground youth cultures influenced by music, art and the stylings of the underground fashion culture. Minimalism, desconstructivist nature as well as athletic silhouettes join luxe materials, futuristic prints and color schemes in a hyper-modern blend of street wear and tailored menswear allowing for a refined, yet edgy take on normally-pigeonholed menswear. Black and white chic photo collage prints, pop- art inspired graphics, as well as futurist functional sneakers adorn a athleisure collaboration with Adidas, including sophisticated button ups with post apocalyptic- punk themes, parkas, bomber jackets, slim cut denim and classic tees where Simons effortlessly blends the worlds of refined modernism, streetwear with a nostalgic influence. Casual knits,slim trousers and the use of high tech materials in the Adidas collaboration showcase Raf's preeminent synthesis of a futuristic outlook that gives reverence to the past.
Unlike the majority of his contemporaries, Raf Simons has a love-hate relationship with the fashion world. He seeks to evoke emotion--that is authentic, not solely for the glamour and the superficial nature of it all. Raf's process involves a bit of introspection, constant questioning, as with the way many innovators think. How can I make this garment more fluid? How will the color contrast pop with this certain fit? Raf seeks to break out of the normality the majority of menswear world embraces, a constant niche market too focused on the standard sartorial strata of classical archetypes with a small twist.
Through this process, Simons has become the most important menswear designer in the world: dramatically altering the way men dress and want to dress. He is unafraid to explore what lies between the innovative, as well as the classic. He was the first to truly interject and juxtapose menswear with cultish youth affiliations before any other designer was doing it. Raf constantly challenges social norms, the status quo, the notion of self worth as well as value. The clothes evoke a design that express something about the world we live in whether it is economic turmoil, youth disenfranchisement, complex codes of masculinity.
Perhaps such a thoughtful designer such as Raf constantly questioning himself, the way things are and his own process might be too exhausting for some. But while exhausted, constantly pushing to innovate while others simply coast along and merely exist--he is able to create something purposeful. In a world filled with an excess of clutter, Simons creates something that truly matters. He is able to make one look at the universe, and perhaps more importantly oneself with a fresh set of eyes.