Tibi draws influences from its designer’s global travels, and a doubling of its UK stockists is next on the itinerary
With its legion of fans around the globe, it is a surprise to discover that when contemporary womenswear brand Tibi was set up 10 years ago its founder had no experience of the fashion industry.
After pursuing a career in financial marketing, Amy Smilovic moved to Hong Kong in 1997. She had a family history of painting, a talent for creating unique illustrations and a well-defined sense of colour.
Smilovic set about designing vibrant prints that would later become the signature of Tibi, the brand she would name after her first business partner’s grandmother. Fast forward to today, and the brand has 350 stockists globally and a fanbase which includes Hollywood stars Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Drew Barrymore and Liv Tyler.
According to sales director Emma Jones, Tibi is aimed at women who “like to travel and enjoy life and colour. Tibi is a bit edgier than a lot of other contemporary brands, a bit more fashion forward. It’s more of a downtown girl’s collection than an uptown girl’s.”
The brand’s inspiration is eclectic, coming from Smilovic’s travels around the beaches of Bali, forests of New Zealand and the landscape of Mediterranean island Capri.
The brand’s signature look – colourful, retro-print shift dresses – is consistent from one season to the next, although the offer has gradually evolved into a complete collection.
For spring 09, the brand’s fifth season of showing at New York Fashion Week, the 150-piece range has an Eastern vibe, with mandarin-collar dresses with obi-style sashes, peg-leg trousers and draped skirts with origami-swagged hips.
About 50% of the collection comprises dresses, and prices range from £63 for a ruffled top to £165 for a long dress. The average price of a dress is about £100. The collection’s rail mates include See by Chloé, 3.1 Phillip Lim and Diane von Furstenberg.
New for spring 09 is a 150-piece swimwear collection which was trialled as a cruise collection for spring 08. The collection can be bought as either mix and match tops and bottoms or sets, and includes one-piece styles and matching cover-ups.
Jones says: “The interesting colour mixes, unusual print placements and good pricing make this a really exciting swimwear range.” Prices range from £51 for a bikini set or short beach cover-up to £130 for a long kaftan.
Tibi’s UK distribution is tight, with only 25 top-end doors. Stockists include department stores Harrods and Harvey Nichols and designer mini chain Matches in London, and designer indie Cricket in Liverpool. Jones explains that she would like to double the brand’s UK and Republic of Ireland doors to 50, but adds: “We want to be in established stores which are used to working with higher-end contemporary brands.”
Tibi opened a 2,200sq ft store in Soho, New York last year, which is the first in a planned roll-out across major US cities.
Number of seasons Tibi has shown at New York Fashion Week
The brand’s target number of UK and RoI doors
Average price of a dress
Size of the New York store