What Advice Did Karl Lagerfeld Give Tommy Hilfiger?

It made the 30-year-old preppy all-American empire what it is today 


Tommy Hilfiger, the brand (and the man) with a preppy all-American aesthetic, has kept its cool factor since since it launched in 1985 - no easy feat in a fickle industry like fashion. And it’s in part due to the words of another designer: Karl Lagerfeld.

According to Hilfiger, the secret to the brand’s currency lies in its ever-changing interpretation of “preppy”. “It can be surf, biker, rock and roll, sporty, sexy. So I’ll continue to hold onto that preppy attitude — because it’s who we really are — but change it all the time: Adjust it, renew it, refresh it.” 

That is a lesson he learned from Lagerfeld (which will likely surface in more detail in his upcoming memoir, set to be released before the end of this year).

“What I learned from Karl was very significant,” Hilfiger recalls, on what the legendary designer said when he asked him his secret for making Chanel so successful. Apparently, the Kaiser coolly replied, “I went into Coco Chanel’s archives, took everything she did, and just made it new and relevant for today.”

Hilfiger took Lagerfeld’s advice to heart. “When our brand was having a slowdown, I took that whole preppy thing that we started in the ’80s and ’90s, and redid it — I reinvented preppy.”

Fast forward to this year, and Tommy Hilfiger is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a Fall-Winter collection that’s a literal take on American football, combined with a dose of Ali MacGraw in 1970’s Love Story.

Think varsity-chic letterman jackets and two-tone football jerseys in luxurious materials like mohair and leather with a commemorative “30” intarsia; brown leather wedge boots with football-like white lacing; kick-pleat skirts and panelled dresses; and whimsical details like helmet pins and football charms on lambskin bags.

Could there be a more apt theme for the Tommy Hilfiger brand than American football? We think not. Hilfiger sure punted it out of the park with this one!

For more on fashion, head here.  

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