German-born designer Jil Sander opened her first Hamburg store in 1967 at age 24 with her pure understated designs reaching great popularity with the advent of 90s minimalism. After designing for her own boutique for five years, in 1973 Sander launched her womens ready-to-wear line in Milan. In 1999 Prada Group acquired 75 percent of the label which led to Sander's departure shortly thereafter.

In 2005, Belgian designer Raf Simons was brought in as the new creative director. Having previously designed exclusively for men, Simons' debut womenswear collection, which interpreted the minimal codes of the house with architecturalism, was received enthusiastically by press and buyers alike. He held the position of head designer for both mens and womens ready-to-wear until 2012, when Sander returned to the brand as head designer.