In anticipation of the opening of his new flagship UK store tomorrow, style director Adrian Clark, exclusively interviews Mr Hilfiger
Tell us why you chose Brompton Road as the site for your new flagship UK store?
“Brompton Road is one of the most important international shopping streets in the world. Linking Harrods to Harvey Nichols, you cannot get a better position for retail. Its just a fabulous location”
We have seen an upsurge in American casual wear growing in popularity here in the UK, spearheaded by Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister and Ralph Lauren’s Rugby, why do you think that is?
“We are closer to home with the Brits, we speak the same language, there is yearn and a desire for American casual wear within your universities with young people. When Ralph opened in London 20 or so years ago, he got a very mixed reaction from people who questioned why an American was coming over to Britain and offering them something that looked British. But he stood the test of time and as other brands entered the market, it has developed into an international style – its cool, its comfortable, its accepted everywhere, yes it has British roots but it has international appeal.”
Where do you stay when you are in London?
“Its between two hotels; Claridges or Blakes.”
You are acknowledged as the master of preppy dressing, how would you say American preppy style differs from British preppy style – given that we are known for inventing it?
“American preppy was born out of our love of British preppy, but we interpreted it in a totally different way - much more relaxed and very casual - my wife would say we are floppier, she is half British, and 25 years or so ago, when I started to design the Tommy Hilfiger line, it was created to be American preppy. I took everything that was traditionally preppy and twisted it, made it younger, gave it a sense of cool. You Brits are bit more proper and a bit more formal in your approach.”
What is the Hilfiger brand’s DNA?
“Always classic with a twist, always a preppy attitude, Ivy League, collegiate meets a military influence. Authenticity and incredible quality are also really important to us and it has to be fresh and yet familiar.”
What goes with everything and is universally acceptable?
“Tartan, it goes with anything, from jeans to a tuxedo jacket and is appropriate everywhere.”
What items of clothing should every man own?
“Chinos, a navy blazer, white, blue, plaid and striped button-down Oxford cotton shirts, V-neck cashmere knits, a mac, loafers.”
What is the most important sartorial rule that men should live by?
“Keep the centre button on your jacket is buttoned.”
Who is the most famous person you know?
What can we expect from you in spring, can you give us an edited sneak preview?
“We took preppy as the home base – much as we always do – but infused it with my love for pop art and Andy Warhol. We decided to explode camouflage as a big statement – we have done it in suede, in cotton, in a bonded mac fabric, we showed it with white, we did it in cashmere, doing it in unobvious colour palettes. Also for spring, we have reinvented our polo shirts, tailored denim, played with chunky knit sweaters in Rothko inspired colours and paired motorcycle style jackets with Breton striped trousers. And my favourite? A varsity style jacket with baseball jacket sleeves.”
Will you be continuing your collaboration with Bass to breathe new life into such an iconic footwear brand?
“Yes for spring we took our inspiration for the Bass collection from the classic khaki, even making them in military camouflage. We have also introduced a desert boot to compliment the loafers.”