Born and raised in Belgium, Raf Simons graduated from college in 1991 with a degree in industrial design and furniture design. After interning at the studio of fellow Belgian designer Walter Van Beirendonck, in 1995 Simons trained himself as a menswear designer and launched his eponymous label later that year. In 2000, Simons shut down his studio to consider new ideas, re-opening it a year later in conjunction with a smaller crew of collaborators. In 2003, he won first prize at the Swiss Textile Awards and from 2000 to 2005 was appointed head professor of the Fashion Department at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, Austria. 2005 marked the launch of Raf by Raf Simons and later that year the designer was named creative director of Jil Sander. Simons' collection of menswear integrates ideas of music and art, blending classic and traditional elements with inspiration from the rebellious youth of past and present. Simons is known for a radical voice against the rigid rules of mainstream fashion and designs for confident outsiders.