Meet the Designer Behind the Brand You'll See on Every Cool Fashion Insider

Between emails that land in my inbox, photos from my Instagram feed that earn screenshots, and market previews I’m attending, I’m constantly introduced to new fashion brands. But it’s only every so often a new label comes around that I can’t wait to get my hands on and immediately want to share with everyone. Right now, it’s Refine, a brand founded by Net-a-Porter alum Anina Heé that is focused on creating timeless pieces you’ll have in your closet for years to come.

Instead of designing trend-driven items, Heé sought out to craft pieces centered on high-quality craftsmanship that women could plan to keep in their closets beyond a season. For her first collection, she was inspired by the ’90s slip silhouette, which she aimed to perfect. Interested to find more about the brand, I spoke with Heé. Go on to read the interview, see how women are wearing the Refine collection (including yours truly), and shop pieces from the brand.

What is your background working in fashion? 

I come from an editorial background. Before starting Refine, I was shopping editor at Porter magazine, where I was in charge of the fashion stories for Porter Daily. Working at Net-a-Porter, I had exposure to young designers and emerging brands and was able to follow their journey and see them grow. It was an amazing opportunity to work at a company where retail and content are combined. There is so much I have learned there that I can now apply to my brand.

Photo:

Courtesy of REFINE

A mood board from the Refine studio.

What ideas influenced the collection, and where did you look for inspiration?

I had been binge-watching Friends whilst I was planning the collection, and that certainly had an impact. I love the ’90s! Maybe it's the nostalgia that comes along with that aesthetic, as I grew up in that time. And then there are all the amazing style icons from that era like Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, Naomi Campbell, and Christy Turlington. I also love fashion photography from that time and have looked at editorials and campaigns for references.

Tell me about the Refine collection and the process of creating it.

I have always been drawn toward timeless pieces of clothing—things that are beautifully made and still feel relevant after one season. Likewise, I have always been very conscious of my purchases. I check the quality and where a piece is made before I buy it. For me, it was clear that if I started something, I wouldn't compromise on the quality. I have observed that excellent quality is not that easy to find at an accessible price point, and that's what I am hoping to change with Refine. I want to give women the option to buy into a long-lasting piece, a classic that they can pass on after years of cherishing it, without it digging a hole into their bank account. 

Why begin with the slip?

I knew that I wanted to focus on one product type only to start with. A friend pointed out that she associates the slip dress with my own personal style, and it offered itself as the perfect piece to evolve around—an essential in the modern woman's wardrobe and, at the same time, so versatile.

What embodies the Refine woman?

I am very proud of the women who have been wearing Refine so far and love seeing it on industry insiders as well as my friends or sisters and even my mum. They are creatives, mothers, activists, all of them working really hard, often doing more than just one job—paid and unpaid ones.

How do the pieces fit into your personal style?

My personal wardrobe consists of pieces that are timeless in their design and made to such a degree that they will last for years to come. I don't buy into trends; I buy into pieces I know I'll love for a long time. And often, when I have found such a design, I would buy it in different colors. That is what we are doing at Refine as well. The range consists of four classic shapes, and we are offering them in four colors and a print.

How do you envision Refine fitting into their lives?

I want Refine to be their armor for their busy lives—something they can throw on and feel great in straight away, something that feels right for a school run, a business meeting, a date night, or a party.

What are your must-buy pieces from the collection? 

I currently wear the Rachel in rose and the Lydia in chocolate on rotation. 

How I'm styling the collection:

As I mentioned, I was personally eager to test-drive pieces from Refine and packed the brand's white slip dress and scrunchie in my suitcase for a recent trip to Italy. Constructed from a shimmery silk crêpe, they at once feel timeless and elegant. Ahead, see how I'm styling the pieces for myself.