So I finally like Tommy Hilfiger? And I can’t buy it?
I would never describe myself as a preppy person. Yes, there was that time I was a retail specialist for Polo Ralph Lauren and was decked out in kelly green cable knit sweaters and white cargo pants, but that was short-lived. Tommy Hilfiger was the enemy then—a design hack who was stealing Ralph’s essence and parading cheaply-made and moderately-priced polos and button-downs on a runway and calling it fashion. After I moved on from Polo (and all my sweaters were dropped off at the consignment store) I never gave Hilfiger a second thought, writing him off as brand with which I had no interest or connection. Plus, by that point Tommy was, for lack of a more PC term, pretty ghetto.
Then in 2010 the company came out with the Hilfigers, a new campaign centered around an eclectic, Royal Tenenbaums-esque family. It wasn’t my aesthetic, but I could appreciate the style and the idea of the campaign. And they had names!
Then came the holiday commercial, which piqued my interest yet again. Yes, I recognize it’s marketing, pure and simple. Nevertheless…
I didn’t want to be a Hilfiger, but I wouldn’t mind having one for a friend.
So imagine my surprise when I saw his latest F/W 12 collection at New York Fashion Week.
It was like Burberry Prorsum, Gucci, and Lanvin had a love child. And I wanted everything.
Yes, at times there were a few too many references to Prorsum (zip-away coat from A/W 10) and Gucci (black shearling coat from any season ever), but on the whole I found it to be a solid collection.
So I did some digging and came across the show for S/S 12.
Not as good, perhaps, but I still found many things I would wear. So I went to the website to check out the prices.
Nothing. There was nothing except boring polos, shirts, and striped sweaters. No reference to a collection whatsoever. Not even link to a video. Knowing that companies often dumb-down their assortments in the US, I went to the UK and Japanese sites. Still nothing. It’s as if the runway collection doesn’t exist outside the runway.
Hilfiger is not alone in this. Lacoste, Nautica, and DKNY all show menswear at NYFW. Even for these relatively mass-market brands, the collections tend to skew toward the conceptual and nothing of what you see on the runway or presented in showrooms makes it to retail. All you find are piles of $39.99 Nautica cotton v-necks at Macy’s and an entire rack of DKNY pants at TJ Maxx.
Why are these brands even bothering with the expense of putting on a fashion week presentation? Publicity? Prestige? You think Joe Six-pack in Akron, Ohio, is going to buy a Nautica sweater because he read a review of the collection in the New York Times? Or that some 17-year-old kid will buy a Lacoste polo because Felipe Oliveira Baptista (yes, Lacoste has a designer) was inspired by the gear worn by the 1966 French national ski team?
In December of last year, Hilfiger announced that is partnering with Ittierre S.p.A, an Italian manufacturer that will produce and distribute the runway collection throughout North America, Europe, and Asia, beginning with this A/W 12 collection.
“Partnering with Ittierre is a wonderful opportunity to reach new customers and to further evolve our most elevated expression of preppy American classics,” said Hilfiger CEO Fred Gehring. “Over the past few years, the successful repositioning and elevation of the brand has led to an increase in the demand for our runway collections.”
If this does indeed happen the clothes do make it to the stores, I’ll take Look #6 please.