by Stella Hughes
7 min
Jack Chipper for CULTED ©

New York – the city that never sleeps. And that never fails to provide inspiration, it seems. It’s been a long three years – but today, Tommy Hilfiger returned to New York Fashion Week. However, never one to fall into the trap of remaining stagnant, Hilfiger has seized the chance to do something different on its return: presenting a show and collection of industry firsts, dynamic collaboration, and deploying a star-studded lineup to do the honours of unveiling it.

“For this season we’re doing new American classics. We went into the 90s archives, looking at everything that was relevant then, and making it new and relevant for today.” Tommy Hilfiger told us when walking us through the collection ahead of the show. From this starting point, choosing when to launch it was easy – “my heart immediately went to New York’s iconic creative culture. This is where fashion, art, music and entertainment were all coming together when I first started out in the industry. And today, it is still this approach that inspires me to engage with the cutting-edge communities building new creative experiences”.

Jack Chipper for CULTED ©

For Tommy, the show starts before the audience even takes their seat, and never really comes to a close. Far removed from the traditional conventions of fashion shows, this presentation was immersive, interactive and tactile: inspired by the city’s one-of-a-kind creative scene. Drawing on New York’s core tenets as “an epicentre of people and subcultures, a collision of lo-fi and hi-tech, and a fusion of style and creativity”, Hilfiger took it back to where it all began this evening – presenting an immersive experience which saw the show in various stages of creation and construction as part of the performance.

Entering the showspace, Brooklyn’s Skyline Drive-In, which saw the iconic NYC skyline silhouette as a backdrop (no big deal), guests were immediately inducted into Hilfiger’s phygital universe. Guests first navigated through the ‘backstage’ area, before heading out into a courtyard in which every corner had something new to look at, or get involved in. Whether that was a T-Shirt making station, or watching Lady Bunny set the mood with a dedicated DJ set, but Hilfiger took the city’s creativity and condensed it into a mini-city of his own.

However, when they did take their seats on the bleachers, the show’s overarching concept began to take shape. Hilfiger’s constructed city was his school – and we were the students. Threaded through the bleacher-style seating to the abundance of all-American varsity in the clothes themselves, it became evident that we were seeing Tommy Hilfiger in all its glory: revisiting the archives and updating them for the modern age. As the designer explained, here was something for everyone: “the jocks, the skaters, the cheerleaders”.

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In practice, this played out in a number of different ways: familiar tartan was given the ‘TH’ monogram treatment, and archival Hilfiger references were re-energised in new, baggier silhouettes. Borrowing from the aesthetics of streetwear, proportions got larger and shoulders were dropped. Elsewhere, colour came in abundance: the brand’s classic red white and blue formed the collection’s basepoint, from which yellows, oranges and greens popped. Some of Hilfiger’s personal favourites? A camel colourway, men’s tailoring for women, as well as a matching monogram oversized bag and puffer jacket. 

Perhaps the most striking embodiment of the collections dual past and present nature played out in the use of the Tommy monogram – then vs now. Worked into denims, screenprints, embroidery and embossing, the brand’s technological capabilities were showcased: extending an idea into a key permeating motif. “We wanted to sprinkle it throughout the whole entire collection, in many different ways, and many different fabrics”, he told us.  Almost as spectacular as the clothes were the cast: featuring everyone from Lila Moss to Julia Fox.

The monogram also made its way into the season’s key collaboration – with none other than Richard Quinn. “I was at The Fashion Awards – did you see Kylie on stage? She and her dancers were all wearing Richard Quinn and we were just like… ‘wow, that’s so cool’” he elaborated. “Someone in our team knew someone in his team, and then we later found out when we got together that Richard used to wear Tommy tartan shirts in CSM”. It seems the two were star-crossed designers – creating a collaboration that was worthy of the romantic literary illusions.

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Quinn’s signature florals signposted the collab – coming in the form of puffers, two-piece tartan, deep-set embroidered knits and even a studded leather jacket – the “punk rock” moment. “This is real fashion. It’s maybe unexpected, or a little unusual” Hilfiger added. The quick uptake of phones pointed at the catwalk at this particular moment would hasten to agree – you could feel the mutual appreciation and understanding in the Quinn x Hilfiger collab, which translated into a line of expertly-curated references and technicalities – tapping the industry’s most exciting emerging talents for collaborations and owning modern prep.

Despite the fast-paced nature of New York, the show placed a distinct emphasis on the importance of connectivity: connecting people through spontaneous moments of creativity both in person and online in the metaverse. Playing out as a ‘phygital’ runway, the catwalk was also live-streamed on both his website and Roblox, as well as projected at the showspace. The IRL models, streamed via the game, were also accompanied by a new set of skins of the new collection – proving digital fits can still go hard, and that there’s plenty more room for fashion in the metaverse. 

If defying traditional conventions in its show wasn’t enough, Tommy Hilfiger’s show and collection also differed in its timeline: eliminating the usual post-show production period which sees collections hit stores months after the catwalk, and championing a ‘see now, buy now’ concept for both physical pieces and digital versions on Roblox. And although the Roblox element may come as a surprise to some, it actually makes a lot of sense: after partnering last year, the collaboration aims to progress the brand technologically, but also contributes to the metaverse’s capability of democratising fashion as a whole. Streamed to the game’s 50 million users, fashion week’s exclusivity is being broken down and shared out: it’s no longer the case that if you’re not at the show, you won’t understand the collection.

Jack Chipper for CULTED ©

Music was also a major element of the show – starting with Lady Bunny’s DJ set, developing into high-octane bangers from the likes of Beyoncé and Azealia Banks, and closing with Travis Barker moving from the FROW to the stage to deliver a live drum performance while models walked the finale. With the relentless rain, larger-than-life set and star-studded guests and models, it was truly a surreal sight.

Rounding off a collection that does it all was a nod to Hilfiger’s friend and pop-art pioneer Andy Warhol. “In the 80s, I met Andy Warhol, and we became friends – he took me to his factory, and this season is inspired by him. We’re calling it Tommy’s Factory”. Encompassing Fashion, Art, Music and Entertainment (FAME, to Hilfiger), “it’s the perfect expression of what (the brand) stands for as we pay homage to our roots with a return to NYFW”. In other words, this was Tommy’s world – we’re just living in it.

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