Fashion entrepreneur and social media influencer Anine Bing talks all things business and style.
Anine Bing’s eponymous brand went from a small capsule collection sold via Instagram to a buzzing e-commerce, stores in six countries, and a dozen collections per year. The mother of two with Danish roots is a switched-on entrepreneur who’s 100% plugged in to the social media beat, creating beautiful content and visuals for her business wherever she goes.
This September, store number nine opened its doors in the fashionable Mitte district of Berlin. The sleek flagship punctuated with large scale artworks and well-positioned vintage home décor is the perfect backdrop for the brand’s coveted Scandinavian style paired with Californian rock chic.
I decided to start my clothing brand because I felt something was missing on the market.
We caught up with the ever-busy Anine Bing for a photo shoot at Hotel Zoo and even managed to squeeze in a ride to her own store opening, dropping her off in style with our gleaming white Mercedes-Benz C 180. During the 20 minute trip we touched base with Anine about her high-frequency schedule, the future of fashion business, and her iconic style.
C 180: Fuel consumption combined: 5,5–5,0/100 km; combined CO₂ emissions: 126–116 g/km*
Anine Bing has been sort of a personal brand already before you even began developing your own fashion line. How did you start it?
About eight years ago I started a blog. People kept asking “What are you wearing?” and they expressed an interest in my style, so I started a lifestyle blog and blogged for many years. I came from modelling and the whole fashion industry, so I had always been travelling and living a fun, interesting life, that I think people were interested in following. Then I had my children and the blog became a more inspirational kids-mother-blog. But then I decided to start my brand and slowly the blog transitioned into a fashion blog again. I decided to start my clothing brand, because I felt something was missing on the market. I was obsessed with jeans, but I could never find the perfect pair. And I also saw the effect, that if I was wearing something, I knew it was selling. So I thought that’s a good way of combining doing something I love and actually create something bigger out of it.
You mentioned that when you wear something, it sells out immediately. We know that many brands work very hard to find the perfect influencers to work with. How does it feel to be not only the founder of your brand, but also the in-house influencer number one?
I am proud of what I design and I love wearing it. I think it shows that I live and breathe the brand and the lifestyle – I think that is a good way to promote the brand. I am a mother of two and I work hard, I think people find it inspirational. Of course they also like the way the clothes look, I am sure. However, I think it is the combination of both that makes it.
I could just feel that social media is the new way of working.
Why did you decide to grow your business through social media rather than going down the traditional path like many other brands?
Because everyone else had done that and I could just feel that social media is the new way of working. I like to do things differently than other people. So for me it was the perfect way, as I already had a big amount of followers on my different platforms. This was in 2012, it was right when Instagram had started. I saw the effects of it early, so I just started a very small collection, I didn’t tell anybody about it. I created about ten pieces: A couple of jeans, t-shirts and a leather jacket. From one day to another I went online with the website, started wearing the clothes on my Instagram channel and blog.
Was it risky back then to go this way and how quickly did it pay off?
Pretty immediately. Of course I couldn’t say if it was going to work or not, but from day one I started selling a few pieces and then it picked up and I sold more and more. After three or four months we found out that this is actually working and decided to make this into a real thing.
What was the first piece that sold out?
Must have been the leather jackets. Soon after that I designed the Charlie boots, the studded boots and those literally flew out the window.
Growing the brand through Instagram, you predicted the shift from traditional models of presenting collections towards the see-now-buy-now-model that more and more established brands are also adapting now. What’s the future business model for fashion, and how does Anine Bing fit into that?
This is the future, I feel. That’s what I started with four years ago and that’s what I think most brands are heading towards. Of course we are going to make little adjustments, but this is the way to work today. People do not want to wait six months. This is also my personality, so it works really well for me as a person, because I am very eager and I don’t like to wait for things.
You started as an Instagram e-commerce online brand and grew really quickly but why did you go into brick-and-mortar retail?
I just found there was enough interest and it was also my dream to have my own store. So I started out small with a little store and it worked really, really well. Then I took the chance and went to New York and that worked well, too. Now, two years later, we have nine stores. Even though it has been really quick, it happened organically and we went to the markets where we could see the interest for Anine Bing.
What is your favourite part about retail?
I love how you can represent the whole brand, because if you sell it to another store, you only sell about ten pieces, you never get the whole feeling. Here you really get to walk into Anine’s world and experience the scents I like, the flowers I like, the artwork I like – everything is very personal. I go to the flea markets and pick out different little things like vases and frames just to make it special. And I think people appreciate that. They come in and it is a calm, nice feeling. The music that I personally listen to plays and all these elements come together. You get to experience the brand in a different way.
How much is Anine Bing influenced by Los Angeles?
It’s a mix of me being Scandinavian and then having lived in LA for twelve years, so it has that minimalistic Scandinavian feel, mixed up with the rock-bohemian that is LA. I think it is a good combination of both.
How do you balance your life as a mother and a business owner?
When I started the brand I had one girl and became pregnant with my son Benjamin. That was hard, because I was constantly tired and I had to build this brand and put all my energy into that and when I had him I had to go back to work so fast. I was just at home with my daughter Bianca for a year and a half and it was just me and her. And all of a sudden I had two babies and a brand and that was a hard time in my life, personally and professionally. Also because when you just had a baby, your brain is not there a hundred percent, you are a little cuckoo. So it was hard, but it was so worth it, also to give your kids a good example and work and show them that you can build something. I only had two lives, my family and my business. For four years I hadn’t gone out for dinner, lunches, drinks with friends, coffees etc. because I have been so focused on that, but it’s been fine. Now my children go to school and I drive them there every day myself and then I try to pick them up maybe twice a week, otherwise we always have dinner together and I put them to bed every night. So I try to find a good balance.
So we are going to your store now. You are going to see it for the first time. What are you most excited about having a store in Berlin?
I know! That is so exciting! I really hope it fits well, Berlin as a city is so cool I love coming here for inspiration and just looking at the style and the women here how they dress. People have a really cool personal style here which I really appreciate and I think Anine Bing fits here well.
You have a lot of experience with broadcasting your life online. Is it hard to still separate between what you put online and your private persona?
No it’s not hard. When I am at home in my sweatpants with my kids … it is also nice just to be home and relax. So it is a conscious balance of what I show and what I don’t.
What’s the perfect everyday uniform and business look?
A skinny pair of jeans, and if it’s a business look, I would wear a silk blouse with that, and, depending what kind of business it is, either a blazer over that and if you don’t have a strict office, I would put a leather jacket on. And shoes-wise either pumps if you work at a fancy office or just cool boots.
Are you a person who would say “I definitely have some kind of a uniform” or do you like to mix and match a lot?
Mix and match so it always looks effortless and casual. It’s not like one day you’ll see me in a crazy pink outfit… I would build something with the same kind of elements, you’ll always see me in leather pants or jeans. It’s simple but anyway, I like rock style with a twist.
At the label you present a constantly changing collection, but some core pieces remain the same. Why did you pick those basics and what are they?
During years I found out what people love, it started with our Charlie boots. Then we added a classic leather jacket and a couple of jeans and we called it our core collection, we always have them available. They are timeless and just look cool year after year. And then I do a monthly collection that is a little trendier. So now it’s fall and the whole collection is in 70s style. Those pieces I risk more with, whereas the others always stay classic and ageless.
With 12 collections a year, are you even able to take breaks from fashion business? What does your annual schedule look like?
When we put up the brand, we didn’t take one day off. We worked on Saturdays, Sundays, every day. Then we almost burnt down and decided that we need a vacation every six months. Every six months, we try to go away for a couple of days as a family, just log out and thankfully I have a good team now, so I can do that. But you know, I’m always available on the computer. So I don’t have to be at the office every day.
Could you ever imagine doing a fashion show?
Never say never. But it’s works so differently. Who knows, maybe in five years I’ll think, wow, that’s what I want to do, but not now. I’m very happy with the current concept. There is enough to do already so I wouldn’t put the stress on of doing fashion shows.