International Fashion Designer
Tommy Hilfiger -The International Fashion Designer
Hello, 8th May 2007
Mr. Americana’s affair with India
‘I’ve derived a lot of inspiration from the colours and (Indian) culture. Tommy Hilfiger is probably more known for colour than any other designer brand in America’. Tommy Hilfiger, the international fashion designer, who created a billion dollar empire out of selling the American spirit, was recently in India on a private visit. He discusses his brand, his-creative impulses, and his love of all things Indian with HELLO!
You first came to India 30 years ago, but why did you wait so long to enter the Indian market?
I started my business when I was 18 years old. I had my own shops, but I had always wanted to manufacture my own jeans. I met this Indian guy who had a very small factory in Mumbai, and he invited me to manufacture with him. I came here in 1978, designed my first collection and flew back to New York. I went to all the big department stores, like Macy’s Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s, with my collection in a small bag. It was a success. That’s how I started making clothes here. In the 80’s, I became partners with the Murjanis, who were supporting Gloria Vanderbilt. I always wanted to be the first American designer brand to come in India. When the time was right, we came here, and we’ve been very successful.
How do you see Tommy Hilfiger relate to India?
The Indian consumer is very modern and brand conscious. They want the same quality, look and fit as the consumer in New York or Paris. We’re offering them the casual side of fashion – a lot of jeans, casual wear… and it’s affordable.
From a personal and design perspective how do you connect to India?
I like the people, the food and the ambience. Mumbai is so exciting to me. I love seeing the contrast. I love the fabrics that India has to offer, the workmanship, the colours of Rajasthan, the handicrafts, the jewellery, and the artistic perfection.
How consistent is your all-American image with your global ambitions?
You have to have a consistent image worldwide regardless of what you are doing. Ours is a global image because the consumer in Tokyo is wearing the same clothes they are wearing in New York or Los Angeles or London. We have a certain niche in jeans and casual wear. It’s preppy; it’s all American; it’s red, white and blue.
Have you intentionally stayed away from couture?
My real heritage and roots are in American casual, preppy classics. That’s really where I’ve made my mark. However, we continue to add layers and I do see us doing dressier, more sophisticated clothes in smaller parts of the business.
Do you see Tommy Hilfiger participating in India Fashion Week? What are your future plans for the brand?
We see ourselves doing fashion shows on our own. We’ll probably have more shows in India, and if they fall during India Fashion Week then great. But I think IFW is for Indian designers, though eventually it may expand beyond that. We currently have eight stores in seven cities, and by the end of this year we plan to add another ten stores at least. In terms of additionally building on the dream, I haven’t finalized my home concept. This would complete the global lifestyle-branding picture, which we want to develop.
Are your children involved in the business?
I have four children but they are not involved in the business. My daughter has tried acting, my son is a musician – he raps in a band. My other two children are too young.
Diary of the Month
Mohan and Guni Murjani along with Vijay and Arti Murjani hosted an exclusive high profile anniversary dinner at Tetsuma, Mumbai for fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger.
The brand has completed three years in India. Those present at the sit-down dinner were Celina and Jeh Wadia, Ramola and Ajitabh Bachchan, Queenie Dhody, Haseena Jethmalani, Simone Singh and Fahad Samar, Michael and Annerie Owen, HELLO! Editor Ruchika Mehta, Princess Francoise Sturdza, Arvind Dubash, Parmeshwar Godrej, Shailesh Chaturvedi and Kate Walsh.