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INTERVIEW: Amy Smilovic – Founder and Creative Director of Tibi

Amy Smilovic the helm of Tibi sits down for our editor to talk her beginnings, social media, and fashion statements for DSCENE Magazine.

Amy Smilovic
Illustration by Jesalee Go

You should give a damn. It feels great to look great and that’s a good thing,Amy Smilovic declares. The founder and longtime creative director of Tibi sits down with editor Katarina Djoric to talk about her move to New York, starting her fashion career and the power of social media.

Scroll down for our interview with Amy Smilovic: 

Tell me about the beginnings. How and when did you get interested in fashion? – I had always loved the notion of owning my own company one day. I’m an entrepreneur at heart and I am so curious about style. What is it? How is it created or nurtured? I love art, business and I love clothing this was a natural place for me to end up.

You grew up in Georgia, moved to Hong Kong, where you started your brand, and later moved to New York. What kind of impact did moving to a different continent make on the brand? – When you move to a different place it frees you. Especially when you don’t know the language. No critical eye or no critical comments it’s really liberating.

We designers have some control now. Not waiting to be blessed by the powers that be, nice to be able to just show someone a jacket I’m really proud of and get to explain it

When you started out in 1997, did you ever think you would achieve the amount of success that you have today? – When I started out I did think I would achieve this. It was only a couple years in that you realize holy shit, this is hard – really hard. So I take it day by day. The world is in such a state of constant change, I learn not to look too far ahead.

Amy Smilovic
Full denim look from Tibi in DESIGN SCENE Style story photographed by Katie Borrazzo

Do you think the lack of formal design education was actually good for you? – For me, yes. It gives me freedom to ask for the moon, I don’t know what’s not possible. It’s also allowed me to hire the best creative talent and I can stand back and really encourage them to create amazing things. Things we are really proud of and that we want to wear.

You should give a damn. It feels great to look great and that’s a good thing

What inspires you? – It’s constantly changing, sometimes it’s art, movies, or just exercising. My brain is always racing a million miles a minute.

Jake & Joseph Dupont are wearing total looks from TIBI on DSCENE 12 Cover

What are some of your most popular designs? – For me it’s the Resort 2020 Liam Tuxedo Jacket and our Rowan boots from this Fall collection, they are some of my favourites.

Who is the perfect Tibi woman / man? – Someone who is curious, interested in what’s going on around them. They’re appreciate a good joke and they think fashion is important.

Farfetch:Linkshare:Affiliate:CPA:US:US

I guess individuality is very important to you when it comes to designing. You decided to completely change the image of the brand and it payed off. How did you do it? Weren’t you afraid? – No, I was not afraid. I grew up on a small island off the coast of Georgia. My parents combined income was really small, but I have the best family and a great life. If something happened to the company because I tried to do what I thought needed to be done to allow it to survive and grow and it didn’t go well I still knew that if as long as I have my family and my health that’s all that really matters.

Amy Smilovic
Tibi Spring Summer 2020 – see all the looks.

Instagram seems to be setting the pace of fashion today. Do you think the digital era has entirely changed the fashion industry?
Yes, absolutely. Thank god, we designers have some control now. Not waiting to be blessed by the powers that be, nice to be able to just show someone a jacket I’m really proud of and get to explain it.

Your personal Instagram is like some kind of an #ootd diary. Does it take too much of your time? I guess you are having fun doing it. – Yes I love doing it, it’s cathartic. I do it on my commute in to the office on my way to work, so the timing works out.

Do you feel the pressure to post every day? – No, not at all. If I did I would stop doing it. Right now it is very natural.

Tibi menswear
Tibi Menswear Spring Summer 2020 – see all the looks

I loved the styling at your SS20 show. Who do you work with when it comes to styling the show? – No one, it’s just our team. We have our styling in house with Dione, and then myself and my head of design Traci – we are extremely fanatical about owning this.

What are the key pieces of the collection? – The blazer with an interesting shoulder detail and the nylon track pant.

If you had one fashion statement, what would it be? – You should give a damn. It feels great to look great and that’s a good thing.

If you had to sum up Tibi in three words, what would they be? – Chill, modern, and curious.

What’s next for Amy Smilovic? – I don’t know yet, maybe a book?

Keep up with Amy Smilovic on Instagram @amysmilovic

dscene twelve
This story is from DSCENE Magazine Issue Twelve, available here.

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