You would’ve had to have spent the past ten years living under a rock or at least somewhere with no internet access or magazines NOT to have heard the name “Tibi”. Renowned for it’s deliciously feminine and fresh aesthetic, the brand is internationally hailed as one of the hottest labels ever to come out of NYC. With a legion of high profile fans including Olivia Palermo, Heidi Klum and Jessica Alba, I think it’s safe to say that Tibi has come a hell of a long way since Amy Smilovic first began developing her trademark vivid prints back in 1997. Each season the Tibi catwalk show attracts one of New York Fashion week’s most fabulous FROWS and leaves me, along with every other fashion forward female on the planet, lusting after their mouthwatering collections for the next six months. It was Amy’s lifelong obsession with all things style related and dream of launching her own label that gave birth to Tibi and the brand’s phenomenal success is both a real life fashion fairy tale and a testament to her hard work and sheer talent. Now Tibi’s stocked in the best stores, featured in the top publications and coveted by the chicest women worldwide, Amy is undeniably one of the most in-demand names in the industry.
As a long-term Tibi fanatic, I was ecstatic to wangle an interview with the lovely Amy herself. Read on to get the lowdown on Tibi’s beginnings and what we can expect next from the fash pack’s most lusted-after label.
LPA: Did you always aspire to be a fashion designer? Or was there a specific moment or experience which made you decide that was what you wanted to do?
Amy: Growing up, I was always artistic. My father was a painter and I attended the Lamar Dodd School of Art at UGA. Originally I began working in advertising at Ogilvy & Mather, I liked it because it combine my artistic side with business. I didn’t really seriously explore the option of designing clothing until I moved to Hong Kong with my husband. The entrepreneurial spirit there hooked me and I just started experimenting and creating on a small scale.
LPA: When you first launched Tibi, did you expect or aim for it to become the global brand it is today?
Amy: Of course I wanted the brand to be successful, but I don’t think I could’ve imagined or planned for where we are now. You start with a small goal-produce and sell dresses, for me it was even one at a time at one point. Then you get an order, the turning point for Tibi was an order from Saks Fifth Avenue, and suddenly we were off and running.
LPA: Maybe it’s because I have no artistic talent, but I’ve always thought that being a fashion designer must be one of the most exhausting occupations known to man. How do you stay inspired and uncynical about the fashion industry?
Amy: Staying inspired for me is all about where I put myself, in a new destination, surrounded with art, watching a great movie, working in a great neighbourhood, all those things inspire me. The fashion industry is a miniscule world, remembering what is truly important like my family, keeps me grounded.That being said, I completely love what I do and wouldn’t change it for anything.
LPA: Do you design with a specific woman or character in mind, if so who is she?
Amy: The idea of a Tibi “girl” has always been important to me-but more than anything I design what I’m in the mood to wear. The design team and I collaborate and really talk through trends, colors, silhouettes, fabrics everything that we’re loving at the moment and come up with massive amounts of ideas that are edited into a collection.
LPA: In your opinion, what is the key to good personal style?
Amy: The dialogue about person style that started with the advent of all these fashion bloggers is really interesting. I think it’s a few things: having fun with clothing, not taking it too seriously, knowing your best shapes/colors and then confidence make for great personal style.
LPA: Am I right in assuming that you wear some of your own designs? If I owned Tibi, I certainly would! Other than that, which designers and brands do you usually wear?
Amy: I do wear a lot of Tibi, but try to always mix with other designers. I love Isabel Marant, Margiela, Stella, Celine, Acne, Vanessa Bruno I’m always finding new favorites, but for me those are my of-the-moment people. Alaia for shoes, Tom Binns for jewelry. I’m a shopper so the list could go on and on.
LPA: How do you balance family life with running one of the most in-demand brands in New York?
Amy: Because my husband, Frank, works with me as the President of Tibi it can sometimes be a little hard to balance work and the rest of our lives. We have rules set in place: once we walk through our front door talk about Tibi is completely over. My two boys definitely help enforce it!
LPA: What has been the highlight of your fashion career so far?
Amy: Probably my first runway show-it’s hard to forget the rush you experience in those 15 very short minutes. Your work and planning all come down to such a short period of time, I still get the same feeling now…many, many shows later, there’s really nothing like it.
Love Ella. X