Raf Simons (1968) is a Belgian fashion designer. He studied Industrial design, but after a few years of self-study, he became a menswear designer in 1995. Initially, he worked with Walter Van Beirendonck in Paris, where he was exposed to the work of Martin Margiela and Jean-Paul Gaultier.
He presents his collections twice a year, usually in Paris, but works and lives in Antwerp, Belgium. In his early years, his runway shows were unconventional: models running down a street or walking in a parking lot, on a bridge, around a photography studio.
His “Raf Simons” and “Raf by Raf Simons” collections are sold at Barneys and Seven in New York and a variety of locations around the world; stockists are listed on the official website.
Raf Simons also launched a 12-piece collection of polo shirts and knitwear in 2008 as part of a collaboration with Fred Perry.
In summer 2005 he was appointed as creative director for the Jil Sander label, owned by the Prada Group.
New York Times Fashion Writer Cathy Horyn respects Raf's work at Jil Sander. As she wrote about his Fall 2007 collection, "On Tuesday a little-known Belgian designer named Raf Simons had the full attention of the fashion world. Mr. Simons’s collection for Jil Sander, his third since becoming creative director 18 months ago, was perfect. It will make everything else, I bet, seem a little contrived, a little clunky, a little silly.”
His collections (menswear only) are strongly influenced by youth culture albeit in an indirect way. He often combines strongly cut classic menswear with baggy streetwear-influenced items. Simons' style has been described as highly influential. He is cited as being one of the most important innovators in contemporary menswear by the international press.