- Interview By
- Bibby Sowray
- Photographs By
- Meredith Bruner
When it comes to building a very modern empire, Anine Bing knows a thing or two. Born in Denmark, raised in Sweden and now a fully-fledged Los Angeleno, Bing got her first footing in the fashion industry when she began modelling as a teen, before starting a much-loved style blog, Anine’s World, and becoming one of the first fashion influencers on Instagram when the platform debuted in 2010.
She launched her eponymous brand two years later, alongside her husband Nicolai, CEO of the company, from the garage of their LA home, where they live with their two children. An immediate hit with her thousands of loyal followers keen to buy into her natural ability to mix timeless style with key seasonal pieces, the brand was an early adopter of the see-now-buy-now method, long before many others had caught on to the immediacy that consumers were desperate for. There are now 20 stores around the world, including three in London, and the most recent campaign was fronted by none other than Kate Moss, whom Bing has long considered an icon.
Her innovative approach to business in the digital age has put her at the forefront of a new breed of brands that prioritise timeless design and quality over short-lived hits, while always listening intently to the wants and needs of their customers. Here, she talks to us about the lessons she’s learnt along the way, her love for her craft and the guiding mantras she lives by…
“There’s no better feeling than designing clothes that empower the women out there – it makes me feel so good.”
How would you describe the Anine Bing woman?
The Anine Bing woman is timeless. She knows who she is, what she likes and she wants to be comfortable. So she’s all about uniform dressing, and less is more for her.
What is your mission as a company?
To empower women. There’s no better feeling than designing clothes that empower the women out there – it makes me feel so good. So that’s my goal.
Like W. ICONS, Anine Bing is all about timeless staples that stand the test of time. For you, what are the qualities that make a wardrobe staple?
For me, wardrobe staples are definitely a great blazer, a white t-shirt, a good pair of jeans, pumps and a great pair of boots. You only need 10 pieces and then you can mix and match them. But a blazer is definitely my ultimate go-to; the fabrication is what I look at first – it has to feel good. Then the workmanship is so important and, of course, the details – I personally like a slightly oversized fit, like a men’s blazer.
You were one of the first influencers to launch your own brand – Anine Bing grew from your blog, Anine’s World, and is now global with hundreds of retail points. What are the biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way, both in business and life?
The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that nothing comes for free. You’ve got to work so hard and be kind along the way, and build a great team around you, because I could not have done this on my own. I have an incredible team; my husband [Nicolai], who I’ve built the brand with, and then all the amazing women that we hired along the way. Something my husband taught me early on, when we started the business from our garage, was to know every task myself because then when you hire the team, you have a better understanding of what everybody does. So, in the beginning, we did it all; we packed the orders, we answered the customer service emails, we did it all from scratch, and I think that's important when you build something – to really know every aspect of the business.
“You only need 10 pieces in your wardrobe and then you can mix and match them.”
What is the best business advice you’ve been given over the years?
Stay true to your vision. I think that relates to everything you do in life, whether it’s business or elsewhere. When you build a business, it’s so easy to look at what other companies are doing and how other people are doing things. We are timeless; we don’t change every season to be a completely new thing; we stay true to ourselves, and I think that’s really important to build a consistent brand.
If you could go back to the beginning, what would you change about the journey?
Businesswise, we worked so hard and I learnt from all my mistakes. But I’d do better next time on a personal level – I would probably take a little more time for self-care. The first many years I had no time for working out, it was just work. So my advice would be don’t forget about yourself because that’s equally important. When you’re well, everything else will be better, too. Now I do Pilates, which I love, and I try to just go for a walk once a day to get outside. I’m all about manifesting positive things for the future.
You still have a huge following on Instagram, both personally and for the brand – do you ever feel the pressure of constantly having to create newness?
No, because I love creating, so it’s never pressure for me. And I love photography. For my own Instagram, I have my Leica camera that I bring with me everywhere and, for me, it’s storytelling. I don’t feel pressure to do anything. I do it because I love doing what I do, whether it’s sharing moments from the design studio, me creating music, my family life, nature, whatever it is. It’s like my own personal diary and I share just the things that bring me joy. It’s fun to be able to go back and look at these moments.
“The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that nothing comes for free. You’ve got to work so hard and be kind along the way.”
Is there a mantra or phrase that you apply to life and/or work?
I have two: “Be true, be you” and “You know when you know”. The latter is something me and my husband said when we met each other, and also when we bought our house – when you walk into a space and have that feeling. It’s the same in business, when you design a perfect blazer and it’s going to be a bestseller. I really go with my gut feeling and instinct in both business and in my personal life. “Be true, be you” just means staying true to who you really are. I’m 41 now, and when I turned 40, I felt like I really was in a good place in my life. I don’t get distracted by outside noise.
How would you describe your personal style?
Timeless, effortless, but with a rock ’n’ roll twist.
What is the most-worn item in your wardrobe?
Definitely our Quinn Blazer. The fit is slightly oversized and it feels so cool and effortless. It makes any outfit look good.
Kate Moss was the face of your AW23 collection. What was it like to work with such an icon?
She’s everything that we try to create as a brand, so it was really incredible. It happened organically. I’ve always had photographs of her by Terry O’Neill around my home and she’s been on every mood board. Then my team told me that her stylist had requested some pieces, which made me really excited, and slowly we started the conversation. Of course, I didn’t think that would ever happen when I launched my brand out of my garage – not even in my wildest dreams!
You have three stores in London now – what do you love most about London style?
I love London, I love the street style. I think the women there are timeless but they have a little bit of an edge. I get so inspired walking the streets and hanging out in London. It’s just such a cool place.
What does 2024 hold for Anine Bing?
So many exciting things! I’m not sure how much I can say, but we have a very exciting partnership coming up and we’re continuing to expand and open more stores, including in Asia. But I also want to slow down a little – pause and fine-tune the little things in both my personal life and the business.