Get to Know Tibi’s Amy Smilovic

Effortless, easy, cool. These are just a few words to describe the New York-based brand, Tibi. And it’s no coincidence they describe the brand’s founder and creative director Amy Smilovic. But aside from “eased out” (her term), Smilovic is also determined. Determined to change the way women dress. We sat down with the designer at the Holt Renfrew offices to chat about the ever-changing industry, the brand’s evolving aesthetic, and her latest collaboration.

Courtesy of Tibi/Holt Renfrew

S/: With all that’s changing in the industry, how do you feel about the see-now-buy-now model that has emerged?

AS: It would never be something that I’d be interested in doing because, for us, we really like to push the envelope and present new ideas—and new ideas take a while to sink in. Something brand new takes a while to be absorbed.

S/: Do you feel that the industry is forcing you to evolve, or do you follow your own system?

AS: A large part of our business is direct [to customer] and that gives us the freedom to do what we want to do [without catering] to external forces. It feels good. When you’re sitting there with millions of dollars of transactions, and [purchasing patterns] to analyze you get a really good idea of who’s shopping and what they’re buying. It’s amazing.

S/: There seemed to be a subtle shift in your silhouettes this season–it was all about the waist! Where did this direction come from?

AS: I had been really loving everything that was eased out. If you look at fall ’16 and the fall prior, there was a tremendous amount of ease. And if I’m on a consistent path for too long, I know that’s when it’s time to shake it up. I really feel like if it’s not broke you should break it.

Playing around with corsetry, [the challenge] was figuring out how to wear this comfortably. So, for me it was wearing a big wide-leg pant, putting the corset over the shirt, and tucking the corset in. I would have never taken a corset and put it over a mini dress and paired with high heels.

Courtesy of Tibi/Holt Renfrew

S/: How do you balance staying true to the Tibi aesthetic while exploring new themes and avenues? What is the common thread you bring to every collection?

AS: If I can wear flats with it, it means it’s really in my zone. If we can’t wear a flat with it, it absolutely has no business being in our line. Even with evening wear—if you were in a skin-tight thing with heels and a woman walked in all eased out with her hands in her pocket, you’d be like, ugh, I want to be her!'”

S/: You recently announced that you teamed up with Myriam Schaefer and are introducing a line of handbags in November. How did you decide to involve her?

AS: I knew that I wanted to do handbags, but I knew I didn’t want to do anything at the contemporary level. I didn’t see any need in the world for a cheap bag. I wanted the best, and I had been in love with Myriam’s bags, so I just called her and I think she was shocked that I didn’t have my people call her people. We completely understand each other and I’m sure she is the most talented handbag designer in the world right now. She’s just phenomenal and I’m so lucky to be working with her.

S/: What was it like to work so closely with another designer?

AS: Myriam and I see eye to eye; we are very much in sync. And I always appreciate someone with a strong opinion. You know, when someone’s waffling, you don’t know where they stand. When they have a strong opinion, you can address it head on.

S/: What is next for Tibi?

AS: I just want to keep pushing women to be curious about trying new things. For me, if the next line pushes things further and makes people more interested in fashion in general, that’s great. I don’t really have new segments that we need to push. One day I would love to have menswear in the category—I think there is a huge void in menswear [compared to] what we’re doing for women.

Tibi is available at Tibi.com and Holt Renfrew.