What do you get when you cross a brand as American as the star spangled banner itself, and one of London’s most exciting fashion upstarts? Introducing Tommy Hilfiger and Richard Quinn’s 40-piece collaboration—plus a monogram fusing the instantly-recognisable TH logo and Quinn’s daisy print. It’s been a busy time for Hilfiger, who’s readying to shake up NYFW with his return to the schedule. And ensuring it’ll be an event to remember, this won’t be your average runway outing either. We caught up with the duo to discuss everything from web3 and high school jocks to what to expect from Tommy Factory, the incoming Fall campaign starring Kate and Lila Moss among many others. Take notes!
What confirmed that it was time to show again in-person?
Tommy: We were doing our ‘See Now, Buy Now’ shows and they were so unique and unusual to the industry. We were on a roll when COVID hit, but it gave us the opportunity to think about what we could do next and what was the 2.0 version. We ended up at the 3.0; immersing audiences in brand exploration that bridges IRL and the metaverse and pushes digital boundaries.
What is it about New York City you always love so much?
Tommy: It’s where fame lives. Fashion, art, music, entertainment, and of course, celebrity and sports. New York really is the hub of it.
The concept of your Fall campaign, Tommy Factory, is inspired by Warhol’s original Factory. Take us back to that time.
Tommy: I met Andy in the ‘80s and he invited me to the Factory to show me everything he was doing. That day, he was with another creative who had one foot in art, one in fashion, and a hand in music: Stephen Sprouse. While he’s no longer with us, he was so influential on the scene. They both brought all these things together to capture the spirit of American society and did it with a sense of humor and creativity.
How are you channeling that spirit with Tommy Factory?
Tommy: It’s about bringing in new people. The mix of lo-fi and high-tech, a fusion of style and creativity, while celebrating the epicenter of pop culture: New York. Although we are now a global brand, we will always be inspired by and connected to New York.
Tell us about the casting and the creative team for the campaign.
Tommy: Craig McDean shot it and Katie Grand styled it; we did it in The Bronx. We wanted to have a diverse array of talent, all united by their unique boundary pushing energy, and culture shaping talent: Kate and Lila Moss, Travis Barker, Anthony Ramos, Mr Brainwash, Jon Batiste, Lady Bunny, Steve Wiebe.
Sounds like a fantasy dinner party list!
Tommy: If I could have a dream dinner party, I’d have Warhol, Basquiat, probably Michael Jackson, and a number of different personalities.
You’re always a champion of emerging talent. Where does that come from?
Tommy: Musicians have been a big inspiration and I’ve always surrounded and immersed the brand in pop culture, inclusion, and diversity. I looked at who was actually moving the needle and making a difference in society. Over the years we’ve had David Bowie and Iman, Aaliyah, Britney Spears, Lenny Kravitz, Cheryl Crow, Jewel, and we sponsored a Rolling Stones tour. All sorts of hip hop stars, pop stars, even Hollywood stars since the very early days; using them as models but also collaborating with them. We were probably one of the first brands to embrace celebrities into the fashion world.
The experience will come to life on September 11. What can you tease about your show?
Tommy: It’s going to be experiential. The uniqueness and disruption in how we are doing it is as exciting as my very first show! We have a partnership with Roblox, whereby we’ll be unlocking new sections in the lead up. It’s an industry first in terms of livestream—the catwalk will be incorporated into Roblox for the first time, there’ll be avatar integrations, and exclusive digital items. The play between URL and IRL will all be revealed….
When did you come across Richard’s work and what initially spoke to you?
Tommy: After London Fashion Week, when the Queen of England and Anna Wintour sat in his front row . We kept our eye on him as he’s so original and his approach to pattern, color, and print are revolutionary.
Richard, how did you feel when you were approached?
Richard: Really excited! We knew the different things that Tommy has done, and I wore it growing up, but the breadth of pop iconography and the figures within the pictures, as well as the amazing campaigns and the amount of fashion the brand has influenced, was incredible. The more we looked through their archives, the more excited we got. When I think of American fashion, I think of Tommy as one of the greats. It was a very easy project to say yes to!
What can we expect from this capsule of 40 pieces?
Richard: We looked at all the iconic American traits in fashion, right from high school jocks and cheerleaders, to the archetypes that I have in my work which are more underground, London punks, and the kinky cat.
If you were in an American high school, what would you have been?
Richard: I think maybe a jock during the week and a punk on the weekend. A cat on Sundays!
What Tommy pieces do you remember?
Richard: I had a bright yellow Tommy fleece in the height of the ‘90s. And a plaid shirt that I wore all the way through university.
What’s in this collection?
Richard: We wanted to reinvent the classics, like varsity jackets and sporty puffers from the 2000s. And we loved the ads with men in kilts and boxer shorts. All the separates are really a mix of the two DNAs, and then the dramatic styling adds a high fashion vibe to the collection.
What was the process like working with Tommy?
Richard: It was great. We went to their offices in Amsterdam and we loved all the different anecdotes about how he started the company with a small selection of goods and then suddenly Destiny’s Child came to his in-store show. We learned about the quality, details, fabrication, and really great tailoring in the ready to wear pieces too.
What iconography and references do you always look to?
Richard: I like fantastical kinds of things, and a head to toe look, but I like to clash two unusual things that look like they came from different planets. Maybe a catwoman or DC Comic Book sort of reference, mixed with a prim and proper lady from the ‘50s or ‘60s.
Talk us through the fusion of the TH monogram and your signature daisy design.
Richard: When we were talking about the project and how we could use the classic blue and red Tommy flag, they suggested infusing it with my daisy print. We put it on puffers and separates and intarsia denim in a really luxe way and I’ve loved seeing it come to life!
Tommy, what was the collaboration process like for you?
Tommy: Richard looked at our past and present to put his twist on the way he saw Tommy Hilfiger. I’m so excited. We would never have done something like this on our own—customers have never seen or expected this from us.
What’s keeping you excited about the future of fashion?
Tommy: Digital innovation, the metaverse, blending IRL and URL, Web3, NFTs, combining the powers of fashion and the metaverse. There’s endless opportunities and I’m so obsessed with it! During COVID, I became a student of all of the digital innovation going on: gaming, live stream shopping, what was going on in Silicon Valley. We have to stay ahead.
Richard, what’s next?
Richard: Hearing about the Tommy story—his passion, how much he put in, how the stars aligned and it came back—that’s the exciting part. It’s about finding your voice and showing what you feel and think is cool, in the most curated way. On the business side, there’s so much to learn every day. It’s been a whirlwind, but it’s the tip of the iceberg. I hope to keep growing. Clothes for a film—a fashion-related, creative one—would be very fun!
Are you looking forward to NYFW?
Richard: It’s when our studio is at its busiest, but I am. I hope to have good food, see friends, and I’m excited to see the show and the Tommy team again. I like seeing shows when I’m not responsible!