Tommy Hilfiger Strikes Key Partnerships to Advance Underrepresented Communities in Fashion

Tommy Hilfiger Strikes Key Partnerships to Advance Underrepresented Communities in Fashion

Tommy Hilfiger has established several partnerships with its People’s Place Program to champion Black, Indigenous and people of color in fashion.
“The People’s Place Program is a cornerstone in our efforts to open the door to everyone who has been left out by fashion,” said Tommy Hilfiger, principal designer at Tommy Hilfiger Global. “This welcoming spirit has always been at the heart of our brand, and we are here to do more and to do better.”
The People’s Place Program was launched last July to amplify the company’s efforts and dedication of resources to increasing opportunities and visibility for underrepresented communities within the fashion and apparel industries around the world. The platform has three pillars: Partnership & Representation, Career Support & Industry Access and Industry Leadership.
 The first round of partnerships includes The Fashion and Race Database, which is an online platform that expands the narrative of fashion history and challenges misrepresentation within the fashion system. It was created by Kim Jenkins, assistant professor fashion studies at Ryerson University. The database is an educational resource that focuses on people who previously had been hidden in the margins of fashion history.
The People’s Place Program will partner with FRD to fund and support a research study called “The Unsung History of American Sportswear” to uncover overlooked influences from Black American culture on signature Tommy Hilfiger styles. Throughout this year, the research will be developed into content series and educational resources that will be available internally, and to industry peers and consumers.
“The Fashion and Race Database is thrilled to partner with an American company like Tommy Hilfiger and its namesake brand, a vibrant piece of fashion history,” said Jenkins. “As a professor and founder of the database, it has been my mission to urge brand owners to embrace what fashion education has to offer the industry. Tommy Hilfiger understands and respects the power of this learning, and is leading the charge, showing its peers what is possible in building a more intelligent and compassionate fashion system.”
The research will include an examination of American sportswear through a study of denim, the cotton trade, origins of preppy style at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the sartorial expression of social activist moments, streetwear culture, and additional categories that will emerge through FRD’s research.
A second partnership will be with Harlem’s Fashion Row, the New York-based agency founded by Brandice Daniel in 2007 to champion the advancement of people of color in the fashion industry.
Tommy Hilfiger will be a supporting sponsor for Harlem’s Fashion Row’s 3rd Annual Digital Fashion Summit that takes place Feb. 18. Hilfiger will join Daniel and Randy Cousin, senior vice president, product concepts and People’s Place Program, to discuss how Hilfiger is working toward creating more access and opportunities for Black, Indigenous and people of color in the fashion industry.
Hilfiger will also partner with Harlem’s Fashion Row to identify ways for emerging talent to receive mentorship and network with internal teams as well as industry insiders.
“We are delighted to partner with Tommy Hilfiger on the Annual Digital Fashion Summit to highlight solutions and practices for diversity and inclusion in the fashion industry,” said Harlem’s Fashion Row chief executive officer Daniel. “With our collaborative effort, we aim to address and implement change. Addressing the concerns takes a long-term commitment and we acknowledge the steps that Tommy Hilfiger is taking, and we are elated about their upcoming plans to provide opportunities for designers of color.”
The company’s Tommy Hilfiger and Tommy Jeans spring campaigns feature a diverse cast of social, cultural and creative influencers, including activists, musicians, poets, dancers and filmmakers. This month, Black talent, including musician and producer Saba, and the horse riding and mentorship collective Compton Cowboys will take over the brand’s social media channels to highlight significant moments in Black American history and recognize people and culture that inspire them every day.
Over the summer, Hilfiger will launch collaborative capsule collections with actor, model and activist Indya Moore, and fashion designer Romeo Hunte, whom Hilfiger has mentored for a long time.
“We are determined to continue putting real action behind our words,” said Avery Baker, president and chief brand officer of Tommy Hilfiger. “Equity and inclusion cannot be achieved through short-term recognition; we have to bring them to the forefront every day."
11 febrero 2021 — Nikita Singh
How Romeo Hunte Is Quietly Redefining What It Means to Be an American Brand

How Romeo Hunte Is Quietly Redefining What It Means to Be an American Brand

11 febrero 2021 — Nikita Singh


 Romeo Hunte’s fashion designs exude his strong point of view and showcase his ambition to build a luxury house.


What was your inspiration for becoming a fashion designer?

It all started in my childhood…. I was an athlete who excelled in basketball and track and field. I was great at it, but I knew around the age of 13 that I had to do something bigger to take care of my family.  My mother was an inspiration, and although she was a single mother…how she carried herself and engineered her personal style, personified strength…it was pure motivation. I wasn’t familiar with garment construction or illustration, but I did attend classes to refine my knowledge. I forged everything in my radius to cultivate my designs; from school, to the streets, to music [hip-hop was a great imprint], and I knew I wanted to do this! I collected and studied fashion magazines and took advantage of my internships. Working as a personal shopper in a luxury environment, afforded me the opportunity to experience both sides of fashion; business and consumer. I became an invigilator to what clients would have their eyes on and pick at, and it was very apparent that timeless, classic, wearable pieces are what they loved. I had a clear-cut vision for myself as a designer and how I wanted my designs interpreted. From there, I created a collection.


What were/are your greatest challenges to date as an emerging designer?

My challenges have been good, but the industry is not as pretty as it seems from the outside. I thought once I delivered a great collection that was me, unique and of good quality… it would just take off. I did trunk shows very early in my career, which allowed me to acquire some of the best celebrity clientele from Beyoncé to Michelle Obama. I didn’t think I would start a men’s collection so early, but the demand was there. I used menswear fabrics in my women’s collections – and the men took notice and would support my pop-ups and shows. Soon after came the great athlete’s. They would request a women’s jacket for themselves, so I originated bespoke/custom design and created a menswear line. In introspect, I wanted to make my line gender-fluid and focus primarily on luxury outerwear as the outerwear has always had the strongest point of view. I owe homage to my mentor Tommy Hilfiger for giving me the word to make that my focus.


What words of wisdom or advice would you give to an emerging designer like yourself, that’s wants to be successful in the fashion industry?

To learn the business of fashion FIRST, and do not have high expectations until you are experienced. Today’s designer is not just a creative mind. The knowledge of marketing, public relations, branding, and strategy is very essential. Learn how to capitalize from your growth and be perseverant.


11 febrero 2021 — Nikita Singh
Romeo Hunte Has Been Called A “Disruptor” — Now The Designer Is Owning It

Romeo Hunte Has Been Called A “Disruptor” — Now The Designer Is Owning It

Designer Romeo Hunte is no stranger to devoted fans. Since launching his impossibly cool namesake label in 2014, his clothing has appeared on celebrities like Beyoncé, Michelle Obama, Laverne Cox, and TessaRomeo Hunte is no stranger to devoted fans. Since launching his impossibly cool namesake label in 2014, his clothing has appeared on celebrities like Beyoncé, Michelle Obama, Laverne Cox, and Tessa Thompson and athletes like Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul. Most recently, Zendaya wore Romeo Hunte’s Boxy suit for her InStyle cover story, for which the Euphoria star’s stylist Law Roach pulled all-Black designers.
In July, a week after the RH office has re-opened, Hunte tells me that being in lockdown during the pandemic has given him time to reflect. Despite having had to edit back and hold off on some new drops as a result of stay-at-home orders, the brand has continued to be there for its customers, in part by pivoting to manufacturing masks. “The reviews were just like, ‘Oh, thank you so much. This brightened up my day,’" he says. 
As factories and warehouses closed due to the lockdown, a lot of brands have had to slow down and get creative. Some have had to turn to upcycling old fabrics and pieces for the new collections. Part of it has to do with the fact that they didn’t have access to new fabrics with the closures; another has to do with sustainability — an issue that has been brought to the forefront as a result of the pandemic. Romeo Hunte was ahead of this. In February, he unveiled his Fall/Winter 2020 collection that incorporated archival looks from Tommy Hilfiger. (While the production has since been delayed due to the pandemic, Hunte will be working on making it available by pre-order later this year.) “I'm really excited about this partnership,” he says. “Tommy has been an amazing mentor and like a godfather to me, and just to be the first designer, and the first Black designer also, to work and take his archives and upcycle a lot of the pieces and taking his brand identity and mixing it with mine…” he says.
The partnership came about organically for Hunte who has always been a master of deconstructing classic silhouettes into unexpected, high-fashion creations. “I used to take a lot of my mother's vintage pieces, I got in trouble a lot for that, but I'd take a lot of her pieces and upcycle it. I'd take it apart, deconstruct it, put it back together,” he says. “When I first started the brand, that was not my thing. I was like, ‘Okay, I did that when I was home bored.’ But over the seasons, it's so crazy how fashion really is, it just connects. It definitely connects with your culture automatically and with your past and your experiences, even when you don't really want to express those things.”
When it came to the collaboration, Hunte says he was inspired by the idea of giving existing pieces new life. “I was like, ‘Tommy, I really don't want to do something new. Let's see how we can go into your archives and build these amazing silhouettes and new styles for the show that is very exclusive and, at the same time, find a way to celebrate sustainability in a great big way,’” he says. “I think it's very essential that all brands find a way to be sustainable in some way and shape."
This idea of reinvention has long been part of Romeo Hunte’s DNA, whether it’s taking a trench coat and turning it into a dress by removing sleeves or adding bold elements, like neon piping, to turn an otherwise-classic staple into a can’t-miss style. For his latest collection, which combined business casual wear and sportswear, he sent out blazer-hoodie and denim-and-leather jacket-coat hybrids that appeared, in true Hunte form, simultaneously statement-making and wearable.
While the last few months have brought some downs for the fashion industry, Hunte is hopeful for the future. “A lot of business plans are changing right now. It is definitely a time to be very strategic; but at the same time, be very optimistic and open-minded.” Personally, Hunte says he will continue to “think outside the box” and do “things that I really want to do.” He adds, “I feel like I've been called a disruptor, and now I'm owning it. Like, I feel like I did come in, and I didn't want to play games. I really got straight to the business. And I found a way to structure my business without [financial] backing and a small team.”
This has proven to be successful for Hunte, who, over the years, developed a loyal customer base, as well as industry acclaim. “I just always had to believe in myself and push forward, and I knew that I could do it,” Hunte says. “It’s a dream come true to dress the former First Lady Michelle Obama and Beyoncé.” It wasn’t without its challenges, though. For one, when Hunte was attending the Fashion Institute of Technology (in which he enrolled after turning down two full athletic scholarships), there were not many Black designers that were doing what he wanted to. “There was only, like, Tracy Reese that was on the [fashion] calendar,” Hunte says. “Tracy Reese is an amazing, beautiful designer of beautiful dresses, but I'm not really a dressmaker. So it was hard for me to relate. But it was very inspiring to see.” 
Breaking into the fashion industry proved even harder. “I've been told a lot, ‘It takes time.’ And I'm like, ‘Well, if it takes time, I don't really see that with other designers that are not Black.’ I've seen designers start their first year, their companies skyrocket, and they're all over the internet. They're all over the publications.” He tells me of his first big show, a moment that should have been a celebration of his hard work and talent. “Right before the show started, it was chaos backstage, we are all trying to start on time, open the doors,” he says, recalling a conversation he overheard between two people working the event. My show got called ghetto until the doors opened and the models were all dressed, and then the same people who called it ghetto was like, ‘Oh my god, it was so many good, important, amazing people [watching the show], so much support in the industry.’”
This is hardly an isolated incident for designers of color in an industry that favors whiteness and tries to disregard talent even when it’s right in front of their eyes. “You have to prepare yourself. The industry's not easy, period. I just feel like, as a Black designer, my experience is that I feel like I have to work double, triple harder to even still be here,” he says. “Your work gets overlooked.” With that in mind, Hunte, as someone who has built a strong business and client base, hopes he can inspire young designers to keep following their dreams. “I try and utilize my platform to inspire other designers, to motivate them, like, ‘You can do this, too,’” he says.
While the pandemic has been hard enough on independent designers like Hunte, the news of George Floyd, a Black man, being killed at the hands of the police, added a new layer. “It was a lot mentally to take,” says Hunte. "It was just really hard for us to get back to work, it was so much weight. We already were going through a lot, keeping each other strong, and then for that to happen and more heavy weight to take on moving forward with the brand…” 
Following the racial justice protests, fashion — that has long overlooked Black creatives and kept them out of boardrooms — is going through a reckoning, with many calling on the industry to do better in supporting Black creatives. “I think what young designers want is to be included in the stories and have a seat at the table; their work to be compared to the bigger houses, and not just compared but in mind with the bigger houses for trends, and their drops and collaborations to be acknowledged and to be published. That's what really helps a business,” Hunte says. “I just think it has a lot to do with your presence: How much are you celebrated? How much are you acknowledged? Where do you sit?”
At the time of the interview, Hunte is unsure of his plans for NYFW or the future. “I feel like everyone loves the show and the energy of the models walking. You don't know what's coming out, what's going to walk out next kind of thing,” he says. “At the same time, I don't know if my client is looking forward to it and that it will make them feel like, ‘I want to get up and wear a Romeo Hunte look and feel fabulous again.’ Or is it, ‘I need to pay the rent and the bills and keep lights on’? I don't know. We don't know. We're taking it day by day.”
That uncertainty doesn’t faze him: “The team, we've been strong. We went through wars, but this is one where we're prepared, and we're going to go hard for this show, and for the next season, too.” All to say: We’ve seen nothing yet.
11 febrero 2021 — Nikita Singh
An Interview With Designer Romeo Hunte Who Dresses Beyoncé and Zendaya

An Interview With Designer Romeo Hunte Who Dresses Beyoncé and Zendaya

He is well on his way to becoming a household name.
Not many people would turn down a scholarship to college for track and field. Fewer would do so in order to attend fashion school. But for Romeo Hunte, forgoing his full rides to both Long Island University and St. Francis College to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology was a relatively easy decision. “Making that choice was kind of a fork in the road for me but I just knew I had to do fashion,” says the Brooklyn native, who was just as well known for his personal style as his athletic abilities in high school. “My grandmother taught me how to sew and starting when I was 13, I used to take my mother’s old vintage clothes, cut them up and reassemble them,” says Romeo. “Fashion was just always there for me. It was in me.”
While honing his technical craft in school, Romeo did something that is key for anyone hoping to pursue a career in fashion (take note!): he worked and interned within various sectors of the industry. “I had a part-time job in luxury retail as a personal shopper and also interned at Prada in their marketing department,” explains the designer, who says his time in retail later influenced his brand because he understood what real women wanted to wear. “The internship that was most interesting to me was at Vibe Magazine in the fashion department,” he continues. “I learned about sample trafficking and witnessed how much hard work goes into a magazine. I learned so much and it has all stuck with me to today.”
Upon finishing school, Romeo began booking styling gigs and creating custom designs for clients, two of which remain at the center of his collection today: a striped shirtdress and red checkered shawl. “The shawl is very transitional and can be styled in many ways. I noticed that both the younger and older customer were both attracted to it so it’s something I always wanted to keep present,” he explains. Pretty soon, industry insiders began to take notice of his garments when clients wore them at events, and Romeo decided to officially launch his line for pre-fall in January of 2014. Little did he know, he would gain his first celebrity client, Zendaya, that same year. “I met with her stylist, Law Roach, and he was digging everything in the collection,” says Romeo. “Zendaya had a press week coming up and ended up wearing Romeo Hunte three times during it. Seeing the way she carried each look with confidence and sophistication—I felt like I’d completed a piece of my vision.”
His label increasingly gained traction as he met more celebrities, stylists, and editors, and became known for having transitional outerwear and wearable statement pieces at its core. But it was a black and white striped wrap dress custom made for none other than Beyoncé herself that would truly solidify him as a serious young fashion talent. “That custom dress broke the internet. I wanted to do something very sexy yet classic and clean for her. Something very Beyoncé but also Romeo Hunte,” says the designer, who finished off his masterpiece by lining it with 300 brass buttons. “When she tried it on, it fit perfectly. It was so good.” The icing on the cake? “She wore it on my birthday,” remembers Romeo. “I was on vacation and was about to go to the beach when I got the text. I started flipping out, jumping around the hotel room.”
Though the aforementioned professional highlights are stand-outs, there have been many other freak-out worthy moments for Romeo since starting his brand, like seeing Winnie Harlow, Lupita Nyong’o, and Laverne Cox wearing his designs, and getting to attend the 2016 Met Gala. “Always believe in yourself and keep on pushing,” he advises to others hoping to follow suit. “It’s a tough industry, you just have to keep on going—you never know what’s around the corner.” Who knows, maybe one day it’ll be an it-girl wearing your creation.
11 febrero 2021 — Nikita Singh
Romeo Hunte Showstopping Debut 2019 Men's Collection

Romeo Hunte Showstopping Debut 2019 Men's Collection

Yesterday afternoon fashion designer Romeo Hunte showcased his first Men’s Ready-to-Wear collection in New York City at the Dream Hotel Downtown in Chelsea. The Spring collection references an iconic Downtown Brooklyn style that Romeo Hunte is well known for with many unexpected and welcoming juxtapositions. 
For the 2019 Spring collection, Romeo was inspired by luxe street wear and contemporary swimwear in both appearance and in the use of the textiles he selected. The pieces were fun, wearable and had the perfect balance of classical tailoring with luxurious outwear vibes. Romeo Hunte continues to create the genius that he started: a lineage of modern classic apparel that mixes luxurious, practical and transitional at a contemporary price point.
Hunte’s concept and inspiration for this years show was to add unexpected elements together to create a sort of dialogue in the pieces. He wanted to play with the look and feel of swimwear and the unexpected yet on-trend of fur to create innovative garments. The Mens Spring 2019 collection consisted primarily of light overcoats, mix media jackets and jumpsuits that mimic classic wet suits. The collection personified and references the strong nature of water and fur in a way that only Hunte can translate into powerful pieces and looks. Many of the model had bright burst of primary colors: blue, red and yellow. The fabrics were complex and yet complimented each other in totally unexpected ways: mink fur, denim, camouflage, cotton and French terry to name a few. Referencing prior collections Hunte managed to reinvent many of his signature pieces in totally new ways while still paying homage to his prior collections. The models walked down the runway, featuring an array their past and present collaborations, including such totally unmissable brands like Swarovski, Look Mate London Socks, Kopenhagen Fur and Teva. 
Romeo Hunte is one to watch. If you are one of the few people unfamiliar with his designs. Hunte last year was spotted by WWD as “Designer to Watch" and in 2016 was honored by Essence Magazine as a “Designer to Watch.”  Teen Vogue was quoted saying the following about Hunte, “He is well on his way of becoming a household name.” Hunte also has been fortunate to attend the 2015 & 2016 Met Gala and as the industry continues to take notice of the brand, in 2017, Hunte was nominated as a finalist for Women swear Fashion Group International Rising Star Award. As a result, it is no surprise his mens collection is already surrounded with buzz before the doors even opened up yesterday to the invite only list of attendees. Among the 2019 Spring showcases attendees were celebrities such as NFL player running back Corey Clement for Philadelphia Eagles, Nigerian-American rapper, singer and songwriter Thutmose- well known for his songs “WuWu and Ride With Me”. Actor and son of retired American NBA hall of fame basketball player Isiah Thomas-Zeke Tomas. American actor Derek Luke-  popular for his performances in Antwone Fisher and Captain America. 


11 febrero 2021 — Nikita Singh
Fashion Brands Making Cloth Masks You Can Buy Now

Fashion Brands Making Cloth Masks You Can Buy Now

This spring, international design houses incited headlines for flipping their ateliers into manufacturing hubs for medical masks and gowns. From Ralph Lauren to Louis Vuitton, these efforts inspired additional corporations to follow suit and combat the burden that COVID-19 inflicts worldwide. While members of the fashion industry have made significant contributions to relief efforts, this area of commerce has faced a sharp decrease in consumer spending, placing strain on those working in production, retail, and beyond. Yet, in spite of current strains on these businesses, emerging brands are pooling their resources to support at-risk populations in whatever ways they can. La Ligne, for example, will be providing 15 percent of its sales to ROAR NY, along with a mask with each purchase.
In a time when the principle of community bears crucial to protecting those who need it most, we highlight some of the fashion brands volunteering their teams to provide relief to vulnerable populations and medical responders. Purchasing from these names we have grown to love will not only finance the production of critical supplies, but also supports the longevity of their businesses through this uncertain time. 



11 febrero 2021 — Nikita Singh