Tommy Hilfiger’s homecoming show sets stage for an all-American new chapter

Tommy Hilfiger poses with models at his Fall-Winter 2024 fashion show in New York City.

Tommy Hilfiger poses with models at his Fall-Winter 2024 fashion show in New York City. 

Tommy Hilfiger has set the stage for a new chapter at his eponymous megabrand — and he did so by coming home.

On Friday evening, the fashion designer and mogul held his first runway presentation in New York in more than a year; the occasion marked only his second show since the COVID-19 pandemic broke nearly 4 years ago. Hilfiger hosted his ritzy Fall-Winter 2024 fashion show at Manhattan’s Grand Central Oyster Bar, which, as its name suggests, is tucked away amid the hallowed halls of Grand Central Station. (The famed venue is a haunt of tourists, commuters, regulars and local luminaries, well known for its seafood and its martinis — Hilfiger’s favorite cocktail.)

“We thought it was time,” he told CNN in an interview at his Madison Avenue office ahead of the show. “Time to come back and celebrate New York. It’s iconic, and it’s where I started.”

Tommy Hilfiger poses with his designs in his New York studio on September 10, 1987.

Tommy Hilfiger poses with his designs in his New York studio on September 10, 1987. 

It was also time to lay the groundwork for a number of new Hilfiger brand initiatives. Since 2017, the company has largely presented its clothes in a “see now, buy now” format, with merchandise hitting store shelves and e-commerce platforms immediately after a show’s conclusion. Traditional fashion industry scheduling, meanwhile, sees most designers’ collections revealed some six months in advance of their for-sale dates, allowing retailers to order (and brands to produce) the pieces in sync with the seasons they’re meant for.

For Fall-Winter 2024, Hilfiger has largely returned to this format — a move seemingly designed to reposition his collections in the fashion world. That said, though, he maintained there will always be some element of instantaneousness in the brand’s business models — at Friday’s show, for example, the brand noted that its front row guests were dressed in “shoppable collections” — because, at its core, Tommy Hilfiger is not a luxury label. Rather, it’s more a heavily-branded, broad lifestyle universe, ranging from affordable tees and underwear to higher-end offerings, à la the runway pieces.

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From streetwear to sailing gear to sporty and preppy, often with a frisson of celebrity, it’s this lifestyle-driven approach, which is perhaps less about the fashion than it is the feeling, that is the key to Hilfiger’s modern — and continued — success.

Hilfiger’s newest muse and ambassador, Sofia Richie Grainge, was in attendance Friday night. She joining an eclectic lineup of young talent and members of the “Tommy family” that included — take a breath — the actors Damson Idris and Sonam Kampoor, the K-Pop sensation Junho, TikTok stars Noah Beck and Jacob Rott, hair stylist Chris Appleton and models including Halima Aden, Jasmine Tookes and Elsa Hosk, among others.

Elliot Grainge and Sofia Richie Grainge attend Hilfiger's show.

Elliot Grainge and Sofia Richie Grainge attend Hilfiger’s show. 

(Also among those in attendance at the show was Kelly Rutherford, the actor perhaps most famous for playing Lily van der Woodsen on “Gossip Girl.” The TV show’s opening scene featured Blake Lively, playing Lily’s fictional daughter Serena, arriving back in New York City at — where else? — Grand Central Station.)

As models wound through the restaurant, Richie Grainge sat at a banquette with her husband, Elliot Grainge, wearing a khaki trench coat styled with a cream-hued knit sweater. The look embodied the “quiet luxury” trend that took over the fashion conversation last year, thanks in part to the popular HBO series “Succession,” which depicted hyper-wealthy New Yorkers wearing understated yet extremely expensive wardrobes. (HBO is also owned by CNN’s parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery.) Richie Grainge herself has evolved her stylistic approach from an ostentatious Los Angeleno verve into a look that’s more low-key highbrow.

“We plan to collaborate with Sofia,” Hilfiger had said earlier, when speaking with CNN. “She’ll help curate, and she’ll co-design with us along with being the face of our brand.” He noted that Richie Grainge is assuming the throne previously held by Gigi Hadid as company spokesperson-slash-central creator. “Sofia is a style icon, and she’s also just an incredible person.”

Gigi Hadid and Tommy Hilfiger walk the runway at the Tommy Hilfiger's Fall-Winter 2018 show during Milan Fashion Week on February 25, 2018.

Gigi Hadid and Tommy Hilfiger walk the runway at the Tommy Hilfiger’s Fall-Winter 2018 show during Milan Fashion Week on February 25, 2018. 

There’s no word yet as to the look of her collaborative pieces. One might be able to guess, though, by skimming Richie Grainge’s Instagram feed or clicking through Hilfiger’s 50-odd Fall-Winter 2024 looks, where the refreshed Hilfiger aesthetic seemed to be more polished than in recent memory. Slouchy, well-tailored trousers, oversize coats, felted baseball caps, long sleeves, wide collars and collegiate stripe motifs all came together to convey a sense of youthful-yet-measured metropolitan prep.

“We are American classical, we’ve always been American classical,” Hilfiger said. “And I really turned preppy on its head in 1985 when I came up with my first collection… I keep twisting the classics every single season. (This time) we’ve elevated everything. We’ve made it more sophisticated, from the fabric to the shapes to the details.”

The preppy, "American classical" aesthetic Tommy Hilfiger is best-known for — layering, knits, khakis, sports regalia — pictured here in campaign imagery for his brand's 25th anniversary collection in 2010.

The preppy, “American classical” aesthetic Tommy Hilfiger is best-known for — layering, knits, khakis, sports regalia — pictured here in campaign imagery for his brand’s 25th anniversary collection in 2010. 

Models pose backstage during the Fall-Winter 2024 Tommy Hilfiger show. "It's Tommy’s Americana come to life," a press release from the brand said, "in shades of red, white, and blue that infuse the brand’s iconic DNA with modernity."

Models pose backstage during the Fall-Winter 2024 Tommy Hilfiger show. “It’s Tommy’s Americana come to life,” a press release from the brand said, “in shades of red, white, and blue that infuse the brand’s iconic DNA with modernity.” 

Pops of varsity red — employed on pieces like blanket scarves or school uniform-style pants — offset the mostly neutral color palette. (“I don’t believe in being too mundane,” Hilfiger said.) The show featured looks for all genders, but interestingly, Hilfiger also told CNN that he anticipates “that our women’s business will probably surpass the men’s in the very near future.”

Whether it’s his brand or the market that is changing, or both, Hilfiger’s return to the New York Fashion Week calendar marked a fresh vote of confidence for the occasionally beleaguered event. Yes, NYFW is still popular and yes, it’s still big business, but many have questioned what it really means — and why it really matters, or at least to whom — in the current era.

By pumping up the Fall-Winter season with some quintessential New Yorker’s ebullience, Hilfiger — a mainstay of the American fashion complex — made a case for optimism. Furthermore, considering the huge snowstorm that blew into town amid the last few days of shows, his collection’s chunky knit scarves may well come in handy.https://tipatkaiganteng.com/

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