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business Campaigns Editor's pick

ComplexCon: Tommy Hilfiger on aligning with the cultural conversation since the 1990s

Tommy Hlifiger and Gigi Hadid
Tommy Hilfiger and Gigi Hadid

Tommy Hilfiger has always had culture and music at the forefront of how it communicates with consumers, said its namesake designer at ComplexCon this weekend.

The designer was headlining a conversation at the consumer-facing event held in Long Beach, California, alongside Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton and 90s rapper Grand Puba. He used the opportunity to explain that incorporating artists and celebrities who are at the peak of the cultural conversation is core to the brand’s strategy, as seen by the highly popular collaboration with model Gigi Hadid, as well as racing driver Hamilton and Gen Z actress Zendaya (upcoming).

“Doing collabs is really part of the excitement I look forward to every day,” Hilfiger noted. But he believes that in order for them to remain authentic, the brand should only guide and execute their artist’s ideas. This is something he has always focused on.

Aaliyah for Tommy Hlfiger
Aaliyah for Tommy Hlfiger

Although the American brand is soon to be celebrating its 35th anniversary, it was the mid 90s and its popularity among hip hop artists that truly propelled it onto the world stage, Hilfiger explained. Pushing a contemporary aesthetic with an urban New York style of big logos and baggy clothes made the brand stand out among other American names that were expanding at the same time.

Grand Puba first referenced the then mid-sized brand in a 1992 single with Mary J Blige, titled “What’s the 411”. This soon caught Hilfiger’s attention, who started dressing more artists and eventually included singer Aaliyah in a 1995 campaign. From then, the brand featured hip hop and R&B performances on its runways, which Hilfiger cites as the beginning of its entertainment-based fashion shows.

The most recent iteration of this approach lies in the brand’s see-now-buy-now strategy, which has seen elaborate fashion shows taking place for the last several seasons in different locations – from Los Angeles to London, Milan and Shanghai, with the aforementioned current celebrities fronting each occasion.

“We believe consumers want immediate gratification and great experiences,” Hilfiger explained. “My idea is to disrupt and continue to break the rules.”

Earlier this year, Tommy Hilfiger’s chief brand officer, Avery Baker, joined us on the Innovators podcast by TheCurrent, to talk about how risk, authenticity and understanding your consumer are the keys to innovation.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about helping you build innovative integrations and experiences. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology, powered by a network of top startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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business Podcast

Tommy Hilfiger on embracing innovation

Liz Bacelar and Avery Baker
Liz Bacelar and Avery Baker

Risk, authenticity and understanding your consumer are the keys to innovation, says Avery Baker, chief brand officer of Tommy Hilfiger, on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast.

“When you’re trying to do something that really creates an impact and is somewhat revolutionary, then you’ve got to put all the chips on the table,” she explains to TheCurrent’s founder Liz Bacelar, at a live recording at Neuehouse in New York.

LISTEN HERE:

She was referring specifically to the brand’s Tommy Now runway experience, which first launched in February 2017 and most recently took place in Shanghai for Fall 2018. A tech-enabled interactive fashion event, she refers to it as “the right sweet spot in terms of being aspirational and accessible” for the Tommy brand.

Across the market, its set the benchmark in terms of what a digitally-enabled, see-now-buy-now runway experience could, and should, look like; arguably by putting both entertainment and commerce at its heart.

“From the beginning we didn’t think of it as a fashion show as we know fashion shows to be. We see this as a totally shoppable fashion ecosystem that at its heart is a media and content platform. It has a moment of theater, but it also has many layers in terms of engagement and shopability and experience and shareability. It is a multilayered platform,” Baker explains.

And importantly, that got big internal buy-in, catapulting the team behind the launch to make it happen: “What I found was that everyone was so excited about being part of something that was innovative, risk-taking, that was breaking the rules and writing our own story. There was a tremendous amount of excitement, rather than fear and pride to be a part of a program that was trying to be groundbreaking.”

That mentality of how to create experiential fashion show moments targeted to a Gen Z audience, is only a small manifestation of Tommy’s bigger ambitions towards innovation, however.

Beyond digitally-enabled retail experiences, the brand has also been investigating new ways to communicate with consumers through its evolving product – from smart clothing that rewards users per wear, through to speaking to a highly underserved audience through an adaptive line for people with disabilities.

During the live conversation, Baker also talks about how the brand has translated its American roots and values to a global audience, how it overcame the unexpected lull, and why magic and logic need to work together.

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Catch up with all of our episodes of TheCurrent Innovators here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by TheCurrent, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Editor's pick product technology

Tommy Hilfiger launches smart clothing that rewards users per wear

Tommy Jeans Xplore

Tommy Hilfiger has launched Tommy Jeans Xplore, a line of smart chip-enabled clothing that rewards consumers for each wear. In doing so, it is gamifying an experience for its brand fans and ambassadors with immediate rewards, which include discounts and exclusive experiences.

Items in the collection each have an embedded bluetooth low-energy smart tag provided by Israel-based Awear Solutions, which connects the physical product to a dedicated Tommy Jeans Xplore app. Once activated, the app acts as a direct line of communication to the consumer and based on a points system, allows the user to receive rewards and experiences in real time, based on garment wear.

“We’ve always been at the forefront of digital innovation, using technology to deliver what our customers are looking for – unique experiences and instant gratification,” said designer Tommy Hilfiger to WWD. “Tommy Jeans Xplore is the next evolution of our vision, reaching consumers where they are and inviting them to be a part of the brand experience.”

Rewards include concert tickets through a partnership with Live Nation and exclusive access to the brand and its events, such as visits to the Tommy Archives and invites to its runway shows. Users can also redeem product discounts or convert their earned points into monetary donations to charities.

Tommy Jeans Xplore

The line, which is currently available only in the US, consists of 23 items of clothing across women’s, men’s and unisex designs. This includes hoodies, t-shirts and accessories such as a crossbody bag and a backpack.

Tommy Hilfiger has made strides in establishing itself as an industry innovator investigating how to personalize engagement with its young, digitally-savvy audience across the board. Last year’s launch of a shoppable image recognition app during its LA runway show demonstrated the brand’s commitment to inserting digital moments at every consumer touchpoint.

Engaging with consumers through technology, among other innovations, was the main topic of discussion by Tommy Hilfiger and chief brand officer Avery Baker at this year’s British Fashion Council fashion forum, curated and produced by TheCurrent. Stay tuned for an upcoming TheCurrent Innovators podcast episode with Baker, which will be recorded live in New York City in August.

Tommy Jeans Xplore
Tommy Jeans Xplore
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Editor's pick technology

Hands-on with Tommy Hilfiger’s in-store virtual reality catwalk experience

TommyVR_model

Tommy Hilfiger’s autumn/winter 2015/16 catwalk show is now available to watch via a virtual reality experience in select stores around the world. Using a Samsung GearVR headset, shoppers can watch a 360-degree, three-dimensional version of the runway as though they’re sat on the front row.

“Through virtual reality, we’re now able to bring our one-of-a-kind fashion show to the retail setting,” said Tommy Hilfiger himself. “From the incredible set and music to exclusive backstage moments, consumers will be able to watch the clothes move and see the collection in the original show environment – it’s a compelling and interesting elevation of the traditional shopping experience.”

To provide some context, this is something I’ve been waiting for since the show took place. While the Tommy team stayed quiet about it, my colleague and I had spotted the VR camera (by an Amsterdam-based company called WeMakeVR) on the catwalk back in February 2015.

I finally tried it (as below) in the brand’s London store on Regent Street this week, and was impressed by how realistic it seemed. Head over to Forbes to read my full review.

Tommy_VR_london

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social media

Tommy Hilfiger opens ‘social concierge’ service to 8 million+ followers for #NYFW

TommyHilfiger_spring14_socialconcierge

Tommy Hilfiger is opening up its social concierge initiative to its online following this fashion week season. First launched at its spring/summer 2014 show in September, this service enables users to request bespoke assets – pictures through to collection information – in real-time.

The aim is to provide immediate customised access to the collection and the show, in order to enable social media storytelling.

This was only offered to media and influencers physically in attendance in September, but Monday’s show at the Park Avenue Armory in New York, will invite any of Tommy Hilfiger’s eight million followers on Facebook, 473,000 on Twitter and 155,000 on Instagram, as well as global media, to participate.

A staff of roughly 100 photographers – up from 30 in September – will be on hand to fulfil the personalised requests. They will be both on- and off-site, receiving requests via email and Twitter, and working to respond as quickly as possible.

“Efficiency is a top priority,” a spokesperson at the company told me. “Blink and the moment is over – media and consumers don’t want to wait to see coverage, and the social concierge facilitates that process.”

tommyhilfiger

While there’s no automation involved, it is perhaps inevitable many of the requests will be similar or the same, like a backstage make-up shot, or a picture of Tommy himself, maybe one of the model opening the show (last season Jourdan Dunn), or a detailed view of one of the pieces – therefore easing the load.

An image bank will be created accordingly for the team to draw from throughout the event, but they are also willing to gather more specific assets both backstage and front of house. Fans are actively encouraged to be as creative and original with their requests as they like. Last season saw bespoke deliveries ranging from a personal handwritten message from certain models to an image of Tommy with his thumbs up.

Avery Baker, CMO of the Tommy Hilfiger group, said: “This ‘beat-the-clock’ mentality is an important component of amplifying our brand message in the new digital age of fashion where coverage and commentary are happening in-the- moment before it’s on to the next!”

Tommy Hilfiger is also hosting a runway “Instameet”, inviting 20 local Instagrammers to join onsite on show day and receive a guided tour of the set, including backstage. The initiative is in collaboration with Brian Difeo (@bridif) and Anthony Danielle (@takinyerphoto), both influential New York Instagram users. The hashtags to follow include #tommyfall14 and #nyfwinstameet.