Arcade games, food stalls and a 40-foot ferris wheel—Tommy Hilfiger pulled out all the stops with a carnival to usher in a new era for his eponymous brand. He speaks to BAZAAR about Gigi Hadid, embracing technology and putting on the show of his career.
In the months leading up to the spring/summer 2017 fashion weeks, much of the talk surrounding the upcoming season was focused on how the brands adopting the “seenow, buy-now” mantra would push forward with this ambitious concept. The new retail model entailed a revolutionary shift in operations: Entire collections would be immediately up for sale online, or made available to shop at boutiques around the world, no less than 24 hours from the moment the designer takes his or her finale bow.
With so much at stake, expectations naturally high. So trust Tommy Hilfiger to kickstart the conversation with #TOMMYNOW, a giant carnival-cum-runway extravaganza that sprinkled some all-American magic into the “have-now”, too. On the South Street Seaport, a large pier jutting into New York’s East River, the American designer repackaged the hype from his capsule collaboration with social-media superstar Gigi Hadid into an extended fall/winter collection that melded Americana themes with Hadid’s sense of cool.
As 2,000 guests sat under a canopy of festoon lights watching Hadid and a squad of models take to the runway, an immersive digital strategy went into overdrive to generate media buzz. “We’ve used digital technology, including a shoppable livestream and TMY.GRL bot for Facebook messenger, to make the show instantly accessible to our fans around the world,” Hilfiger said, “The positive response has been fantastic. It’s the ultimate expression of my brand philosophy, and the show I’ve always wanted to present.”
What do you love about Gigi?
I’ve known Gigi and her family for years and knew she’d be the perfect ambassador for our women’s collections. She has an iconic sense of style that’s very relevant for today, always surprising us with her own unique twist on things. The whole vibe [of this season] is inspired by Gigi, her irreverent and optimistic style also reflects the spirit of the brand.
How has technology changed the brand’s strategy?
Technology creates a fantastic platform to share our brand’s inclusive spirit and democratic philosophy, while also bringing new energy, speed and creativity to the fashion industry. Our passion for digital innovation runs across all areas of our business, from social media and digital marketing to product creation and business operations, and it is shaping the future of our company and the industry.
How do you feel about the millennials’ love of ’90s nostalgia?
Reminiscing on the ’90s reminds [us] of some incredible memories—from our first collaborations with musicians and celebrities, to our continued passion for pop culture. The ’90s revival is really having a moment right now, and we’re celebrating that with our Tommy Jeans collection, which revisits ’90s nostalgia and iconic styles from our archives and early years, updated for a new generation of Tommy fans.
You launched your brand in 1985; 31 years later, has it turned out the way you envisioned?
When I was just starting out in the fashion industry, I dreamed of having a global lifestyle brand, but I never could have expected that our company would grow on such an incredible scale. It has been an amazing journey! We’ll continue to adapt and evolve, and success has come from defining a clear brand DNA and staying true to this heritage over the years.
Clockwise from top: Tommy Hilfiger with Gigi Hadid and his posse of models. Hadid’s approach to dressing up was finessed into spring/summer 2017 looks that ranged from sporty to sexy.