This just in: prep is alive and well. Just ask Tommy Hilfiger, whose 1,100 stores dot 90 countries and rack up more than $5 billion in retail sales per year. The business has a come a long way from the Elmira, New York native’s single menswear collection in 1985, and he gives back, too—his foundation contributes to the Fresh Air Fund, the Millennium Promise Initiative and P.S. Arts. We caught up with the American icon in LA to talk trends, tips and… Belgian loafers.
I always knew I wanted to be a designer. Success has been the result of hard work and staying passionate about what I do.
MADE MAN: Where do you see men’s style going in the future?
TOMMY HILFIGER: Preppy pieces will always be part of men’s style; they are items that have been reinvented over time and still work for today. I like preppy but I always like to make it new and different. The key to modernizing preppy staples like chinos, navy blazers and button-down shirts is to update the cuts and fabrics for a fresh feel. Anything colorful and bright works well. So it’s not the preppy that we remember from the past; it’s new and fresh.
MM: What are the dos and don’ts for men’s style on a date?
TH: Stick to quality staple pieces like great jeans, tailored jackets and button-down shirts. Don’t forget the details—a pocket square or vintage watch give the finishing touch.
MM: What is your favorite accessory?
TH: Belgian loafers; they’re a classic that work for every occasion.
MM: What trends do you see emerging in menswear?
TH: Red, white and blue, nautical, elongated stripes are a huge trend for spring. The print is a classic in menswear heritage but can be updated for every season and any occasion. A striped shirt can be paired with chinos at the beach or with a blazer for evening. We always find ways to make the classic design modern and exciting.
MM: How do you account for your success?
TH: I always knew I wanted to be a designer. I started my career at 18 when I opened my first store, People’s Place, to bring rock ’n’ roll fashion from New York City to Elmira, where I grew up. For me, success has been the result of hard work and staying passionate about what I do.
MM: What are you working on next?
TH: Right now I’m excited about our newly opened West Hollywood flagship at the corner of Robertson and Beverly; I have wanted to have a major presence in Los Angeles again for a long time. I love LA. The city is an iconic U.S. destination and the ultimate home of celebrity and entertainment. I have always been inspired by the unique style and relaxed vibe. It has that cool factor.
MM: Where do you like to shop when you’re in LA?
TH: I’ve been collecting vintage pieces since I was a teenager, and LA has some of the greatest vintage shopping in the world. Decades is the best of the best. Cameron Silver knows vintage like no one else in LA. The store feels like a museum for amazing vintage fashion. I’m always looking for new pieces to add to our collection when I’m out here. And if I’m in town, I like to peruse some of the amazing vintage vendors who come to the Rose Bowl.
MM: What celeb would you like to prep out for a night?
TH: Jackie Kennedy. I don’t know… Lady Gaga!