Tommy Hilfiger

Tonie Ong

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Articles on Tommy Hilfiger

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There are some labels in the global fashion industry whose brand identities are heavily-influenced by their native countries or cities. Conversely, there are some whose work and signature styles have defined the styles and look for the cities or countries where they operate. Such examples include Chanel’s classic French easy going chicness, Burberry’s youthful and hip London-look, or Dolce & Gabbana’s sensual Sicilian style. These brands understand that more than their creative outputs, their work symbolizes what other people see the fashions of their respective lands. In the United States of America, one designer also does just that: Tommy Hilfiger.

In many decades, Tommy Hilfiger has defined American style on the world stage. His brand exemplifies the very best of the American upper class and commercialism. Wherever a Tommy Hilfiger store may be, and there are already several in various parts of the world, one will see the essence of the United States’ style and fashion. His singular vision of clean and classic fashion encompasses the largest and most powerful country in the world, to an extent that to wear a Tommy Hilfiger piece is to experience the American dream. A number of the country’s national institutions have even commissioned the New York-based brand to be their official uniform-provider and they’re recognized by the government for their contributions to fashion. Such is the prestige of Tommy Hilfiger.

Photo: Estrop/Getty Images

Company creation and evolution

Gigi Hadid and designer Tommy Hilfiger walk the runway at Tommy Hilfiger Women's Fashion Show in New York.
Gigi Hadid and designer Tommy Hilfiger walk the runway at Tommy Hilfiger Women’s Fashion Show in New York. Photo: Ovidiu Hrubaru

Born on May 24, 1951, Tommy Hilfiger grew up in Elmira, New York to a modest, middle-class family. When he was in adolescence, he opened his first retail store in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, selling 1970’s trendy items such as bell bottoms and jackets with fringes. During this time, he began designing clothes of his own, developing a knack and love for the craft. When his store went bankrupt in 1971, he studied marketing and commerce, gaining a better understanding of the business side of fashion. He established “Tommy Hill” in 1979, which is the first iteration of his eventual fashion empire.

In 1985, the designer founded the Tommy Hilfiger Corporation with the help of the Murjani Group led by businessman Mohan Murjani. The brand got immediate attention with a large billboard at Times Square, New York, one of the busiest and most famous advertising locations in the world. In 1989, Hilfiger left the Murjani group and got financial backing from Silas Chou instead. Around this time, his business was already booming, with a few successful collections under his belt and superstar names endorsing his brand. He soon became a prominent fixture in the New York fashion scene, showing bi-annually at New York Fashion Week and expanding his retail presence to the most renowned retailers in the industry.

Adaptive line

Tommy Hilfiger Launches Spring 2018 Campaign For Its Adaptive Collection
Tommy Hilfiger Launches Spring 2018 Campaign For Its Adaptive Collection

One of the company’s most recent endeavors is their new adaptive line. Named “Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive”, the collection is designed specifically for people with disabilities. It consists of garments with snaps to make it easier for people with prosthetics to wear them, while it also features adjustable hems and waists for people in wheelchairs. The line was announced back in late 2017 and debuted online and in physical stores in early 2018. It was made public with a series of campaign images featuring a number of well-known figures in the disabled community, such as motivational speaker Mama Caxx, and US gold medalist Paralympic Jeremy Campbell.

Star collaborations

Models walk the runway at Tommy Hilfiger Women's fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
Models walk the runway at Tommy Hilfiger Women’s fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Photo:

Today, aside from the Americana-type luxury sportswear the label has become known for all these years, Tommy Hilfiger is also regarded as one of the best brands to collaborate with. A number of big names in both the fashion and entertainment industries have entered into partnerships with the New York-based company, releasing special edition lines and capsule collections. One of the very first ones was the label’s collaboration with singer Marc Anthony. The designer was said to be a huge influence for the singer and helped him establish his own line of menswear, which consists of sleek knitwear and leather outerwear.

Since 2016, the brand has also been in collaboration with model Gigi Hadid, entitled TommyxGigi, who put a more youthful and urban spin to classic Hilfiger designs. The collaboration prompted the label to move to Los Angeles to show their ready-to-wear collection there in 2017, the very first time the label did not show during New York Fashion Week.

“See Now Buy Now”

Tommy Hilfiger bag spotted before Etro fashion show in Milan, Italy.
Tommy Hilfiger bag spotted before Etro fashion show in Milan, Italy. Photo: andersphoto

Tommy Hilfiger was actually one of the few brands who started a new business model that has since been taking over the fashion industry. “See Now Buy Now” is a new strategy high fashion labels are using to encourage better online engagement with clients and customers. It allows people to buy a particular garment or look straight after it was shown on the runway during Fashion Week. Since many of Hilfiger’s designs are basic American sportswear pieces, it was easy for the label to adapt this new business model and immediately make their new seasonal collection available for their consumers.

Superstar muses

Tommy Hilfiger boutiqune in Galway, Ireland
Tommy Hilfiger boutiqune in Galway, Ireland. Photo: Martin Good

Like with any fashion label today, Tommy Hilfiger also thrives through their celebrity muses and endorsers. The brand was actually one of the first to really integrate celebrity and Hollywood culture into their marketing systems, getting prominent faces outside the fashion industry to front their high profile ad campaigns. Within the music industry, the brand has sponsored a number of artists’ musical tours, such as Sheryl Crow, Lenny Kravitz, Britney Spears, and Pete Townshend. On the red carpet, actresses like Zooey Deschanel, Drew Barrymore and Jessica Alba have all sported Tommy Hilfiger, as well as models Lily Aldridge and Behati Prinsloo.

The American spirit is alive and well through Tommy Hilfiger and his massive fashion empire. From his humble beginnings, his loyalty to classic Americana and strategic marketing moves helped him rise through the ranks in the cut-throat industry of fashion. Today, the label is available all over the world—a symbol of the American dream.

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