Ms. Insta-Bing-o! by Michaela Cordes | 2nd September, 2016 | Personalities
She’s beautiful, the mother of two young children and the new hot label everyone is talking about. While established designers are still discussing how to reinvent a stagnant industry, Anine Bing is showing everybody how to do it – with Instagram, instant collections and eight flagship stores in just four years. GG met her in Los Angeles.
What’s the secret to her success? “A great product, good timing and social media as my only marketing tool.“ Anine Bing
Hollywood, shortly after 8 am. The sun shines brightly the moment Anine Bing steps into her flagship store on Third Street. “I just quickly dropped off my kids at preschool,” she explains, smiling, and falls into a chair, where her longtime friend and makeup artist Sara adds the finishing touches to her already perfect face for our photo shoot. Anine Bing – the Los Angeles-based fashion label with the elegant and simple black lettering – is causing a sensation all the way to Europe. It adorns denim, T-shirts, leather pants and jackets, boots and unpretentious, fine gold jewelry. Anine Bing could be seen as the new, Scandinavian Isabel Marant, except that her designs are more wearable and affordable, and became famous via Instagram, not catwalks. Meet Anine Bing in person and you are immediately struck by her cheerful, uncomplicated and charming personality, which might also explain the success of her label. With eight flagship stores in only four years (Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Madrid and Antwerp – to be followed this year by Barcelona, Brussels and a London shop-in-shop at Harvey Nichols), Anine Bing has virtually taken the world by storm.
An hour later, we are sitting at the dining table in Anine Bing’s home just a short car-ride from her store, talking about her childhood. Anine grew up in Denmark, just outside of Copenhagen. When she was 10, her father got a job offer in Sweden, so her parents moved with the four children to Järna outside Stockholm. Her mother was a kindergarten teacher, she says, she herself attended a Waldorf school and as a teenager began designing her own clothes. “We didn’t have enough money for every new fashion trend, so when flares were the new thing, I just cut up two old pairs of jeans and made my own.” Shortly afterwards she started working as a model: “When I was 15, I spent my summer breaks in Milan and all over Europe, working in front of the cameras, making good money. So when I was 18, I was able to buy my own apartment in Stockholm.” She remembers how people already told her then how much they loved her style and the way she combined things. “During those years I learned so much from the fashion industry. I paid attention to every detail, what designers, stylists and photographers did.”
“I love going to Bali or to countries like Brazil, where my grandmother was born. When I design my collections, I always make sure the new pieces go with the previous ones.” Anine Bing
In her early twenties she traveled to Los Angeles for the first time and fell in love with the spirit of the city. “The freedom, the creativity, the sunshine!” Fashion and music became her biggest passions during the years she traveled between Europe and California. With two fellow Scandinavians she formed the band Kill your Darlings, recorded an album and started her fashion blog. “I never imagined back then that one day I would have my own brand!” Gaining more and more followers, she started doing small collaborations and soon noticed that people liked what she liked, and that pieces sold even better if she mentioned them in her blog. On a trip to Istanbul a few years later destiny struck and Anine not only met the love of her life but her partner in crime: her husband Nicolai, born in Denmark like her, the father of Bianca (5) and Benjamin (3), and today the CEO of Anine Bing. After the birth of their daughter in 2012 they decided together to move to L.A. for good – to create the fashion label Anine Bing. Anine (laughing): “We started out of a garage, we worked so hard. Packing, shipping, every little step. My husband, who was in fashion retail for many years, had lots of experience in fashion production. He told me from the beginning how important it is to understand everything about the company from the ground up. So there I sat, pregnant with my second child and Bianca sleeping in the stroller next to me. It was a crazy time, but so worth it!” The first collection launched six months later and consisted of just a few pieces. “Simple, because it is my belief that less is more.” The perfect pair of denims, a leather jacket and a T-shirt. She launched her first collection using only social media – her blog and Instagram account – and very soon noticed that her instinct was correct: Buyers from stores around her neighborhood approached her almost every day, wanting to order the pieces she was wearing.
“I adore being a mother and would love to have more children!” Anine Bing
Soon, Hollywood celebrities were following suit, wearing her outfits. Supermodels like Gigi Hadid or Kendall Jenner (the black lace Bing bra she wore to this year’s Coachella Festival sold out the moment pictures of her in it appeared in magazines worldwide), actresses like Jennifer Lawrence, Jessica Alba and Kate Bosworth – they all love the casual style created by the unusual woman from Scandinavia, and have spread awareness of the new label beyond L.A. and New York – all the way to Europe. Anine Bing’s astonishing success also caused consternation within the competitive fashion industry itself, because she created a successful brand without any fashion shows and mandatory fashion seasons. “I love it, because I don’t have to worry about a piece looking perfect on the catwalk, my only concern is that it looks good in real life, on the woman wearing it!” The concept: one core collection – her bestsellers – plus a constantly changing collection that she releases piece by piece over six months. “Four to six new pieces every week – just to keep it interesting!” Quite a contrast to the old-fashioned system of traditional fashion brands, which put on big, expensive shows but let their customers wait another six months before they can buy any of those pieces. Anine: “I learned from my blog that people crave instant gratification. That’s also very much my personality.” While brands like Burberry have decided to come up soon with direct-to-consumer fashion shows, Anine Bing is already showing them how it’s done. So it comes as no surprise that the U.S. edition of Harper’s Bazaar just called Anine Bing: “The woman ahead of every fashion industry trend.” Do people from the industry often call her and ask for advice? Anine Bing (smiling): “Yes, it happens. But that remains our little secret. It’s true, we can go from an idea to creating the product in no time because our production processes are short and fast. This is, of course, much harder for established brands. We have a great setup. But I think we were also very lucky – our success is a combination of good timing and hard work.”
Black-and-white photographs of Brigitte Bardot, a few pieces of classic Danish design and a soundtrack of music by The Cranberries or The Cardigans – what makes her stores’ Scandinavian style so attractive? “That’s a good question. Its simple and minimalistic.” Like Anine Bing’s own closet, which is surprisingly uncluttered. What does a woman need to be well dressed? “No more than ten pairs of well-fitting jeans and leather pants, ten of your favorite tops, a great leather jacket, ballerinas and boots and a good pair of heels. It’s better to have less, but of good quality!” And where does Anine Bing see her company in the near future? “I want to go to Berlin and to Asia, and add new and exciting things to my brand. I see myself less as a fashion and more as a lifestyle brand.”