‘FASHION’ chatted with the woman behind the brand about uniform dressing, opening her first Canadian store, and what it’s like working with Kate Moss.
When it comes to all that California has to offer, if you’re looking for a smoothie, you go to Erewhon. If you’re after foundational wardrobe pieces with a cool Scandinavian influence, you hit up Anine Bing.
The Denmark-born, Los Angeles-based former model and mother of two launched her eponymous brand alongside her husband Nicolai in 2012, and it swiftly became a go-to for fashion girlies craving chic European simplicity with a decidedly American ease — and edge. In fact, during our 20-minute Zoom chat, Bing mentioned “rock ’n’ roll” no less than seven times, revealing that prior to starting Anine Bing, she was actually in a band (!).
And while some of her label’s cult-status pieces, like band-inspired tees and distressed sweatshirts, could have gone the way of other fleeting trends in less seasoned hands, they’ve successfully become a core part of Bing’s polished edgy aesthetic which marries luxe materials and modern silhouettes with classic rockstar codes. Think: leather trousers with an oversized cashmere blazer or skinny denim with a silk blouse. (Yes, skinny jeans — but more on why they’re a wardrobe classic in a minute.)
Last month, Anine Bing opened her first brick-and-mortar store in Canada, a minimal-meets-cozy space in Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre, marking the brand’s 23rd store worldwide. FASHION chatted with the woman behind the brand about how to build a capsule wardrobe, why skinny jeans aren’t “out,” and what it’s like working with Kate Moss.
Congrats on opening your first Anine Bing store in Canada. What excites you most about this expansion?
Gosh, every time we open a new store, it’s exciting to me! Soon we’ll be at 25 stores around the world, and it’s so exciting every time. Canada has been a great market since I launched the brand 11 years ago. We have a lot of cool girls from Canada wearing the brand.
How would you define your personal style?
My own style is Scandinavian meets L.A. — I have taken what I love about Scandinavia, which is simplicity and the mindset that when you buy something, you invest in a good piece and then wear it year after year. And what I’ve taken then from living in L.A. for the past 20 years is a more rock ’n’ roll take on things, like the T shirts, the denim, the leather pieces. I think my own personal style is a good mix of Scandinavian simplicity with that American energy.
How do you feel when you see your Anine Bing designs on people?
I love it! It makes me so happy every time, no matter if it’s a big celebrity or a mom at school when I pick up my kids or a cool girl on the street. It makes me super proud and it fills me up with joy when somebody comes up and says thank you for creating these pieces.
Let’s talk about uniform dressing.
I love a uniform… Definitely a good blazer. I wear a blazer almost every day. And then I would have a cashmere turtleneck and a white T-shirt. Then maybe I’ll go more rock ’n’ roll, for the days I want to be a little more edgy, with a good pair of skinny jeans or straight denim. A leather jacket is also a good piece to have. If you have 10 good pieces, it goes a long way.
You said skinny jeans would be part of your uniform. Are skinny jeans not “over”?
I’m wearing skinny jeans today (smiles). I like both [skinny jeans and looser denim], but skinny jeans feel a little bit more rock ’n’ roll. And I like that. When I launched my brand 11 years ago, skinny jeans was the only thing back then. They’re edgy and cool. And I think they’re here to stay.
You modelled prior to launching Anine Bing. How did that experience inform your brand?
I was modelling for many years. I started when I was 14, 15. And I travelled the world and lived in so many different places. So first of all, it gave me a work ethic, because building a company is a lot of work. It also [helped me] build a network of people, from photographers and makeup artists to stylists. I also got insight into the business from another side. So it gave me a combination of bravery — just going out into the world and doing something, like modelling — and then the opportunity to meet all the people that are really beneficial [to the brand] today.
Do you still have moments when that sense of bravery comes into play?
Yes, because you have to take risks all the time. And sometimes it’s a success and other times not. For example, before the company, I was in a band that made music. Even though I didn’t make it big as an artist, I still made an album and I still got to do things that made me happy. And the music industry inspired the rock ’n’ roll vibe of the brand.
How do you balance being a designer and a business owner, as well as a content creator?
You know, I don’t look at it [that way]. I know I have an Instagram and I have a big following, which was a huge advantage when I launched the brand 11 years ago. Today, I just share whatever I’m doing — often a little glimpse of my life, if I’m travelling, and so on. I also have a Leica camera and I love photography. And I always bring it with me everywhere. I like to share what I’m doing.
For me, the number one focus is driving the company forward. We have 200 people at headquarters, so there’s so much going on all the time. That is really where my focus is.
Tell me about building Anine Bing while raising two kids.
I just love being a mom. It’s the most fulfilling thing in life. And I love being able to do that alongside building this company. Me and my husband started this company together and still work together. [Our children] see us working really hard and hopefully we inspire them to follow their dreams one day.
You’ve expanded into products like jewellery and handbags. Is there a category you would like to enter in the future?
We have just scratched the surface of handbags. I love handbags and I really want to put more focus and energy into that category and build something strong.
It’s a category that we haven’t tapped into at all, but I love, love beauty products and makeup. It’s not in the plan, but I love it, so who knows.
Finally, Kate Moss is the face of the brand. What is it like working with Kate Moss?
She is such an icon. She’s been on every mood board [of mine] since forever. And her style is perfect. Effortless. So chic. So rock ’n’ roll. When she walked into the studio in New York for the first shoot we did together, it was so much fun. It felt so surreal, but like it was meant to be as well. It was just such a cool moment.
And she’s so professional; she walks in front of the camera and delivers the photo in a couple of minutes. There’s a reason why she’s killing it — she’s amazing. And the Kate Tote is named after her because it’s an effortless, mature bag. She left the set with the tote because she loved it so much.
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