Tommy Hilfiger and Lewis Hamilton stage see-now-buy-now in Shanghai
One day before the global, four-week fashion runway season begins its four city tour in New York, Tommy Hilfiger effectively launched the international catwalk caravanserai with a mammoth show Tuesday evening on the Bund, Shanghai’s historic waterfront.
The event marked the fifth show in fashion’s most successful see-now-buy-now concept, and the debut of Formula One multiple-time world champion Lewis Hamilton as a fashion designer. His collaboration with Tommy, underlined with some great new Gothic LH and LWTH logos, came after four seasons when Hilfiger had teamed up with uber model Gigi Hadid.
A runway baptism as a creator with a massive set and a huge show of 113 looks staged on the banks of the Huangpu river, with the soaring multi-colored skyscrapers and the legendary Oriental Pearl Tower of Pudong across the river in the background. In a neat touch, one building done in a huge 12-floor neon version of Hilfiger’s signature red-white-and-blue nautical logo.
Hamilton’s ideas opened the action, before rolling into the main Tommy Hilfiger women’s collection, then segueing into another debut for the brand; Icons of Tomorrow, which featured hipsters like Hailey Baldwin, Winnie Harlow and Maggie Jiang.
Baldwin opened the show in a British phone-box red and white striped outfit of track pants, sports bra, and sweatshirts. The first of 29 pure athleisure looks - bright orange training jackets; red-and-black velvet zippered jerkins, emerald green tops and baseball jackets. All anchored by platform construction boots as the cast marched by the muddy river. Passersby on scores of barges, brightly illuminated pleasure craft and motorized junks all cruising slowly by applauded the models.
Pre-show Hamilton had already released images from his lookbook – in which he is the model – and a whole video. A clever teaser of garments, which began retailing the instant the models exited the 120-meter catwalk.
For chillier moments, check puffers and parkas; cool new patchwork plaid shirts; and blood-red leather varsity jackets, all combined with knits, backpacks and caps with the LH Gothic logo.
Hamilton has been a fixture at major European shows for almost a decade and hints of Riccardo Tisci’s athletic ideas; Thom Browne’s houndstooth check and Virgil Abloh’s Off-White sneaker obsession rippled through the collection. That said, this was a clear and coherent fashion statement of a preppy Americana style with a polished dash of the street. Hamilton may well be a neophyte in the design studio, but he clearly had a very good idea of exactly what he was going to do the first day he met Hilfiger’s design team.
“Honestly, it’s an honor to be a part of the Tommy Hilfiger family. I took on the challenge of being an intern for Tommy, becaused he is an icon,” said Hamilton modestly.
In Hilfiger’s latest techie advance, Tommy teamed up with Alibaba’s Tmall.com, the biggest e-commerce platform in the world. Pre-show, guests could calculate their exact measurements on augmented reality mirrors; then check out multiple looks on their avatar on these huge screens and order for immediate delivery.
Tommy and Lewis got a great ovation at the finale. Hamilton has a huge fan base in China. Since the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix in 2004 he has won a record five victories at the Shanghai International Track, noted for its tricky corner combinations. Life in fashion must seem far simpler.
The runway and front row were also packed with influencers, from Instagram star Lucky Blue, filmmaker Christian Coppola and presenter Laura Tobon to stylist Mia Kong, and biologist and model Ninouk Akkerman.
“I’d rather spend my budget on influencers, macro and micro, than just another bunch of glossy magazine adverts,” underlined Tommy.
The setting was yet another example of China’s growing economic power. A decade ago the Huangpu waterfront was a worn-out strip of docks and decayed buildings, and tatty historic mansions. Today it’s an almost pristine 45-kilometer shoreline with running tracks, mini-bridges, and charming small parks.
Hilfiger does not release exact figures, but China must now account for some $700 million in annual company sales. Not bad going for a designer who began four decades ago with a wee boutique in the basement of an obscure upstate New York town. Talk about enjoying the American Dream in China.
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