Jil Sander wanted to empower people with her designs.

The 74-year-old fashion designer - who launched her eponymous label in 1968 - has ''never'' considered herself to be a ''feminist'', even though her motivation to create clothes was to make the customer feel ''strong''.

Speaking to Vogue.co.uk, she said: ''I never thought of myself as a feminist, but maybe I was, since I was not happy with the way women presented themselves. I think my work was more about the rapprochement of the sexes and a more androgynous look for men and women. I was looking for more supportive ways to dress myself as a working woman. And since my needs were collective needs in the era of women entering the business world, my work turned out to help them.

''We had to give a lot of strength to women and give them the power that men knew. It was the start of globalisation, we were travelling, and needed clothes to feel strong.''

And Jil - whose full name is Heidemarie Jiline Sander - also felt it was ''very important'' for her to give ''class, quality and personality'' in her garments.

She said: ''I needed the strength and the energy, and also for me it was very important to give class, quality and personality to clothing. It was a time when women had to ask their husbands if they could work, or if they could get a driver's license.''

Although Jil has hinted she struggled setting up her company, she believes inner strength was the key to get her through.

She explained: ''I'm maybe not a feminist, but I was quite young when I started, nothing was easy and I always said you need a lot of strength to do what you want to do when you have a vision and want to build a company. So I always believed in strong women. I'm not a feminist, but I was looking for strong personality.

''Women have to be strong. And we have to support women so that they are able to be in important, responsible jobs. I was always a believer in both, and with my company, I thought women and men needed to work together. I think a woman's situation is much more open today. It has changed a lot. There is still a lot of need but we have to be optimistic and move forward.''