Tommy Hilfiger on Vogue Week Fall 2020 | Interview

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Designer Tommy Hilfiger and actress Zendaya walk the runway for the Tommy Hilfiger TommyNow Fall Runway Show on September 8, 2019 at the Apollo Theater in New York City. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo credit should be ANGELA WEISS / AFP via Getty Images)

Tommy Hilfiger closed the Tommy x Zendaya runway show alongside Zendaya last September

After COVID, racial injustice and the Black Lives Matter movement, the fashion industry, like many others, is facing a necessary (and long overdue) rewiring. Many brands and designers take stock of how business is done and what could be better – but how does an established brand really mess up their process and create lasting change for the future? That was the question that preoccupied us when we talked to Tommy Hilfiger ahead of the Fashion Week season in spring 21, which will noticeably lack Tommy's typically sophisticated runway concepts, A-Lister model lineups and all-star collaborations.

Instead, the designer is shifting the brand's focus to an initiative that addresses the industry's profound need for representation and inclusion with the launch of the People & # 39; s Place program – a name that Tommy borrowed from his first store which opened in 1969 as a space for people to come together and experience art, music, fashion and pop culture. The three-pillar platform promises at least five million dollars in annual funding for the next three years to advance Black, Indigenous and Colored Representation (BIPOC) in the fashion and creative industries. "The program focuses on partnerships, career access and industry leadership and seeks consistent, long-term change," the brand promised in a press release, noting that a comprehensive plan of action will also be required to correct the company's own shortcomings and forms his internal BIPOC representation for the future. Skipping Fashion Week to pursue this mission seems like a good thing in our book.

Like many of his contemporaries, Tommy takes a punch and diverts his attention from the runway while continuing to innovate in other ways. And while the brand isn't showing a collection this season, that doesn't mean Tommy Hilfiger won't continue to be an important part of the conversation. Here he offers his perspective on the changing industry, how the brand is setting priorities in the midst of all these changes and what he still finds exciting about the future of fashion.

POPSUGAR: How is the lack of runway shows changing the way we shop?
Tommy Hilfiger: As the Fashion Week landscape evolves, consumers will be turning to digital experiences and online shopping even more than before. We have always put on interactive runway shows with virtual attendees, and the emotion and engagement for the audience can be just as strong in the digital space. This change gives us the opportunity to develop new and innovative ways for consumers to browse collections, shop and connect with the brand.

We have always put on interactive runway shows with virtual attendees, and the emotion and engagement for the audience can be just as strong in the digital space.

PS: What message should your brand send in the absence of FW?
TH: We have always believed in being a purpose-driven brand. Our commitment to inclusivity and sustainability is at the center of everything we do and we want to continue our efforts in these areas. We recently launched two initiatives that I'm particularly proud of – Make It Possible and People & # 39; s Place Program. With Make It Possible, we are committed to environmental and social sustainability by creating fashion that “doesn't waste anything and welcomes everyone”. Our People & # 39; s Place program builds on this vision and integrative values ​​of my first business, People & # 39; s Place, and will be the representation of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) in the fashion and creative industries promote. With these two programs, our goal is to achieve meaningful long-term change for the planet and our society.

PS: How did this season drive innovation?
TH: We have a long history of driving sustainable product innovations, including pioneering low-impact denim processes and promoting water management. This season we are promoting these efforts through our “Make It Possible” campaign. We are working to make our clothing more sustainable and we are proud that our FA20 collection includes 40 percent more sustainable styles.

PS: What are you looking forward to for spring & # 39; 21? What do you hope to see your customer and how do you attract her?
TH: I look forward to our industry taking a more consumer-centric and sustainable approach to collections. I think this is what our consumers are looking for – a product that makes a difference and never goes out of style.

The pandemic has put the spotlight on the fact that our industry and countless others need to be more accountable – socially and environmentally.

PS: Given the current changes in the industry, what are you most looking forward to about the future of fashion?
TH: I am excited and encouraged that the fashion industry is focusing more on sustainability and inclusion. The pandemic has put the spotlight on the fact that our industry and countless others need to be more accountable – socially and environmentally. We just launched our Make It Possible program, a ten year commitment to creating fashion that doesn't waste anything and welcomes everyone. We want to drive better change and I look forward to working together across the industry to make a difference.

PS: What does it mean to have style now?
TH: As consumers become more aware of the ethics and sustainability of the clothing they buy, they choose carefully to support companies with strong values ​​of corporate responsibility. To be in style today means to be sure of the clothes you buy – to know that the product looks good but is also good for you.

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