THE INFLUENCE OF AMERICAN STYLING IS FELT ALL ACROSS THE GLOBE, BUT WHEN IT COMES TO PREPPY AMERICANA, NO ONE DOES IT BETTER THAN THE ONE AND ONLY MR. HILFIGER
When it comes to the preppy Americana look, no one does it better than Mr. Hilfiger
Every designer has his or her own distinct signature. Tommy Hilfiger, who first established his eponymous brand around 31 years ago, is a pioneer in bringing preppy styling to menswear. His youthful designs, reminiscent of what’s typically worn by Ivy League students—particularly those who are studious yet relaxed—are wearable, cool and effortless. There’s always a nod to pop culture as well, which makes the brand ever-relevant to the younger generations of each decade.
On a global scale, Tommy Hilfiger has basically planted the seeds of what can only be described as a new American style. While the term “Americana” is often associated with the archetypical ancient Western cowboy look, the brand’s East Coast Americana is a refined, modern look that finds resonance in fashion- conscious youth around the world. In fact, it’s now almost impossible to consider the word “preppy” without conjuring up Tommy Hilfiger’s designs in one’s mind.
What also pushes this fashion house forward is a constant drive for evolution and revolution. From just a menswear line in its early beginnings, it has, to date, grown to include womenswear and kidswear, not to mention fragrances. This year in particular, the brand braces up for yet another big shift as it has decided to embrace the “see now, buy now” approach. Just like a real, young American boy, Tommy Hilfiger always keeps up with current trends and is unafraid to dream big and attain it.
DA MAN: The Hilfiger Edition collection is bringing “the classics” back but with a twist for fall/winter ’16/’17. What’s the inspiration behind this direction?
Tommy Hilfiger: Hilfiger Edition is inspired by everyday essentials redone in a very elevated way. My vision is to infuse the classics with pop culture inspirations and a fresh point of view to create the building blocks for the essential menswear wardrobe.
DA: There’s an obviously relaxed, casual approach to the collection, even in the more formal pieces. Is dressing down the new dressing up?
TH: The signature Hilfiger Edition look isn’t too buttoned-up or stiff—it’s relaxed, playful and fresh. We love this aesthetic that’s approachable, versatile and doesn’t take itself too seriously.
DA: One might look at the presentation and say it’s less sporty than what we’ve seen in previous seasons. Do you think we are past athleisure now?
TH: Our inspiration came from American classics with a sporty, luxe hand, worn slightly oversized with a sense of ease. We looked at each garment from every angle, giving a sense of newness without ever losing sight of what made them special in the first place.
DA: There is a sense of “pajama-inspired” styling, be it in the vertical stripes or the lining (piping) on the edges, in the collection.
TH: Suiting is a key theme for the season, from a classic two-button to pajama dressing. We worked with pajama inspirations like striped prints, lightweight fabrics and piping details, which give a fun, modern twist to the collection.
DA: Is there a particular philosophy behind the chosen colors of this season?
TH: When designing any collection, iconic Americana is always my starting point: The red, white and blue color combination is timeless. For fall/winter ’16/’17, we added in burgundy with pops of white and yellow to keep it fresh.
DA: What’s the most challenging part in creating this season’s collection?
TH: There is a fine line between being innovative and staying true to your brand’s vision. I always find it exciting and inspiring to explore fresh ideas and work them into a new collection.
DA: How do you think are men dressing today?
TH: Menswear is really having a moment right now, and styles have evolved. Today we experiment more with unexpected colors, silhouettes and cuts. We’re
“MENSWEAR IS REALLY HAVING A MOMENT RIGHT NOW, AND STYLES HAVE EVOLVED. TODAY WE EXPERIMENT MORE WITH UNEXPECTED COLORS, SILHOUETTES AND CUTS”
seeing that men are putting more time and care into defining their own personal style, and they’re not afraid to have fun with fashion.
DA: Where do you begin when designing a look?
TH: My starting point and biggest inspirations come from pop culture: fashion, art, music, and entertainment, which I summarize with the acronym F.A.M.E. These provide me with a wealth of inspiration to work from when I’m designing new
collections. I find inspiration everywhere: It could be from a visit to the Met or MoMA, a stroll in Central Park with my youngest son, or heading to a concert with my wife or children.
DA: Tommy Hilfiger, as a brand, is known all over the world for its preppy look. How do you personally define “preppy”?
TH: Preppy is rooted in the American East Coast, and the look is all about confidence and eclectic details. Prep will always have a classic element to it, but it can be interpreted in so many different ways: athletic, laidback, even rock and roll. I am always inspired to see how our consumers around the world interpret our signature “classic American cool” style in their own unique ways. We call it the globalization of prep, and it’s a very inspiring part of the design process.
DA: We’ve also learned about your collaboration with Rafael Nadal for the THFLEX Rafael Nadal Edition collection. How did this begin?
TH: Rafael has been a personal friend and supporter of our brand for nearly 10 years. He embodies an effortless sense of style that reflects our brand spirit; he’s confident, cool and doesn’t take style too seriously. This exclusive partnership has brought one of the greatest athletes of this generation into our Tommy family, and his ongoing ambassadorship continues to resonate with our consumers worldwide.
DA: Will you have any other collaborations with Nadal for this fall?
TH: Nadal’s ambassadorship is driving a strong commercial impact globally across our men’s categories, and his campaigns speak to and engage our next generation of Tommy fans. Nadal will appear in our Fall 2016 Tommy Hilfiger Tailored, underwear and fragrance campaigns, and we’re excited to introduce the new THFLEX Rafael Nadal Edition suiting collection. Inspired by Nadal’s quest for the perfect suit, the collection celebrates our signature
tailored aesthetics fused with performance fabrics designed for modern movement and functionality.
DA: Some major brands have drastically changed their business strategies by streamlining their shows to in-season presentation. Will Tommy Hilfiger follow the same path? And if so, why?
TH: This September we launch a new format for our New York Fashion Week (NYFW) show, opening it to consumers and introducing “see now, have now” immediacy. This is a natural progression of our approach to fusing fashion and entertainment, and making the full energy and excitement of NYFW directly accessible to our consumers globally. We are able to reach new audiences in a new way, with styles available through retail, ecommerce and wholesale channels immediately after they premiere on the runway. It’s the next step in our long history of democratizing the runway, and we look forward to seeing how our consumers respond.
DA: The brand is turning 31 this year. What has been the biggest change in terms of brand identity so far? What’s still missing, if any?
TH: We’ve come a long way over the last 30 years, and it’s been an incredible journey. We continue to adapt and evolve, but our success has come from defining a clear brand DNA and staying true to this heritage over the years. Our business has grown from a single menswear collection into a global lifestyle brand offering tailored, womenswear, kidswear, denim, underwear, footwear, accessories and more. Today our signature look continues to celebrate the East Coast Americana lifestyle blended with the cool, confident, laidback vibe of the West Coast.
DA: What’s the biggest lesson you have learned over the years?
TH: To always stay true to yourself and never give up on your dreams.
“PREPPY IS ROOTED IN THE AMERICAN EAST COAST, AND THE LOOK IS ALL ABOUT CONFIDENCE AND ECLECTIC DETAILS”
clockwise An image from Tommy Hilfiger's digital collaboration with Austyn Weiner and Love.Watts; the season's casual preppy styling; one of Tommy Hilfiger's sketches
Top The color spectrum of the season sticks to the brand’s basics: blue, red and white
Top Tommy Hilfiger with the models during presentation opposite page rafael nadal in the THFLEX collection