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Q&A With Amy Smilovic of Tibi

April 22, 20

What will women want to wear when this is over?

Well, I can tell you what I will not want to wear – and that’s sweatpants and sweatshirts. I want to wear things that are beautiful and functional. Optimistic but not crazy. Like an elegant green or white cotton poplin dress – that just seems to scream life to me.


How would you describe your personal style and has it changed these past few weeks? What are you wearing daily at home?

Well, daily at home I am in pajamas and sweatpants and then I’ve tried to change for dinner each night. We have now had more sit down dinners with our family then I’ve had in a lifetime with our kids (they are 16 and 19, so that’s saying a lot). I’ve also cooked more than I ever have. And you know what? I don’t suck at it, I just simply just never had the practice. I think for my “future” style when this is over, I know I am craving elegance. I’ve watched so many movies from the 30’s to get me through this and I relish beauty right now. Beauty that is somehow still sensible.


How do you try out new looks without losing yourself?

I never wear a new look without a piece that is tried and true me. For example, I love an oversized wide leg pant, I have them in every permutation. If I want to try out a new style from a brand like Jacquemus or Rosie Assoulin, I would make sure to mix it with my pants. If the top feels right with the pant, then I know I am in my DNA zone. I will feel like myself.


What is your best source of inspiration now that you are sheltering in place?

Movies, family, music. Watching true talent – Andrea Bocelli’s Easter performance was one of the most moving experiences I’ve had. The visions of our great cities emptied out to Bocelli’s rendition of Amazing Grace. I will never forget.


Any books, movies, tv shows to recommend?

I am obsessed with My Man Godfrey from the 30’s – both the color and the black and white version. And of course, finishing up Schitt’s Creek. I also want to go back and watch that from the beginning. I loved the finale show, where they did a wrap up on the process of getting the show off the ground. They spoke so much about the style on the show, saying that it was so critical before they casted the show that they knew exactly who these characters were and what they stood for. That the area that they did not compromise on was the wardrobe because they felt that clothing expresses so much about who a person is, the two are inextricably intertwined. I really believe that. And on the book front, I am vacillating between David Sedaris’ “Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk” it is just light and ridiculous; to “Mans Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl – heavy but perfect for the times and keep perspective.


How will COVID-19 change fashion? How will it change your business?

I think it will force us to double down on sustainability – but mostly through the eyes of what we produce, how much we design, and the purpose of our designs. More than ever, we are focused on understanding where we are wearing what we create, how much we will wear it, and for how many years (and hopefully decades) we will own it. I can’t control pollution or everything that’s going on in the world, but I can control my role in it. As far as our business, it’s made me so appreciative of the smaller stores out there the role they play in community. I hate it that Amazon is more prevalent than ever. I really do. I want to walk in to businesses, talk to someone who selected the clothing. I want to see it respected and not tossed on the floor like at the fast fashion places. I have felt this way for a very long time but this crisis has made me realize life is short. Very short. And if we can survive this type of disruption, then we can survive turning away these bigger companies that are behaving in this destructive manner. Support the ones we love, that we’re proud of, and that are in the business because they love fashion and making women or men feel great.


Your grandmother grew up in the Great Depression and your mother-in-law survived Auschwitz. Do you have any wisdom from them to impart to us?

Well, I think they are examples that life goes on. It may not take all the turns that you expected, but god willing, if we are healthy and survive, it does go on. So what we do with that life? How do we control our outlook? That is fully up to us. My dad grew up in Indiana with his parents who survived the Great Depression. My dad took that experience and always seeks the positive in a situation. He and my mom are both glass overflowing types of people. He was determined not to carry forward that fear and heaviness that sat on my grandparents. My husband, he constantly battles separating himself from the thick layer of fear that permeated his house in the Czech Republic. You have to find the best from these circumstances and use them. My husband used it to give him strength and courage; I hope we will all find ways to use this experience for better. Unfortunately, we are still in the throes of it – we don’t know where this will end. Right now, I just pray for health and then the courage to do the right thing, for my family, for my employees, when this time has passed.


What women inspire you the most?

Women who speak their mind. Women who are honest. Women who support everyone; women, men, all genders. They choose the best person for the job always regardless of gender. And many, if not most times, that will turn out to be another woman. And that is just great. But they don’t make decisions because of the trends of the days. They do what is right and sometimes they do things that are wrong – but they did it with honesty, so that is ok.


Are you bored, busy, or both?

I have never been busier in my life and it makes me wonder what in the hell I was doing with my time in the past. I am working on a book and that is consuming me – I could do it 24/7 but eventually I do have to shut off the lights.


What’s the first thing you will do, see, eat when this is over? What’s the first place where you want to travel?

Well, what’s funny was I had grown so tired of Paris, which sounds so obnoxious to say but it is true – work had become such a slog there and I really didn’t look forward to my travel. But the Andrea Bocelli concert reminded me of how precious our cities are. So I would like to go back to Paris, see busy streets, and enjoy life.