Tommy Hilfiger
Tommy Hilfiger walks the runway at the Tommy Hilfiger Ready to Wear Fall/Winter 2019 fashion show during New York Fashion Week on September 08, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

It comes as no surprise that the British Fashion Council chose Tommy Hilfiger to recieve this year’s Outstanding Achievement Award at The Fashion Awards 2021 for his “ever-optimistic vision to break conventions and celebrate individuality” and his pioneering Make It Possible sustainability program. Hilfiger has been dancing to the beat of his own drum since the brand launch 36 years ago, and this nonconformity has led him to be widely recognized for constantly evolving with the times. From the first-of-its-kind partnership with Elite Model Group bringing hyper-realistic avatars to the forefront of the industry to partnering with POSE breakout actor Indya Moore to celebrate diversity and believing great style knows no boundaries, he has undoubtedly become one of the most influential leaders of the last two centuries and an inspiration to the future generation.

Ahead of Hilfiger heading to the Royal Albert Hall in London at the end of the month, where he will toast to his momentous year among peers, GRAZIA chatted with the American designer on what it takes for a brand to have longevity in today’s world sustainability initiatives and his advice to emerging designers.

GRAZIA: How does it feel to receive such a prestigious honor?

Tommy Hilfiger: I’m incredibly honored to be recognized by the British Fashion Council with the Outstanding Achievement Award, and to join a group of remarkable designers who have won this award in previous years. It is an amazing feeling to reflect on how far we have come as a brand over 35 years and counting. I am proud that we continue to evolve with our consumers, lead initiatives with thought and purpose, and foster meaningful partnerships in our industry. This is just the beginning and I’m excited for what is next for us.

G: You have had so many amazing moments this year, what has been your standout?

TH: The pandemic created a big shift for us, and we took the time to examine what truly matters to us moving forward. We increased our focus on initiatives that make a positive difference within our communities and also on our environment. We continue to advance our social responsibility commitments and efforts through key initiatives like “Waste Nothing, Welcome All” and the People’s Place Program. We also launched some amazing collaborations this year – TommyXIndya, TommyXRomeo, TommyXTimberland, as well as partnerships with Harlem’s Fashion Row and The Fashion and Race Database, and through them, we are engaging with our consumers in unexpected yet purposeful ways.

G: You recently partnered with Julia Haart from Elite Group on a new virtual venture, what do you think this will bring to the future of the industry? How will this venture evolve?

TH: I’m thrilled to partner with Julia and EWG Virtual on this exciting new venture. I always believe in staying ahead of the curve, and virtual technology and experiences are the future so I’m excited to do more in this space. Our goal is to be at the forefront of developing avatars for talent, and to create more integration between digital products, technology, v-commerce, pop culture and entertainment. We’ll be able to offer fans and consumers fresh, innovative ways to interact with content from their favorite influencers, artists, brands, and more.

G: As a pioneer for American Fashion, what words of advice do you have for new emerging American brands?

TH: My advice to emerging designers and brands would be to hone in on their individuality and strengths that make them stand out. Consumers are drawn to brands that are authentic so it’s important to form an identity or signature of your own. Consumers also want to align with brands that are making a positive impact on people and the environment – I think these factors will become more and more essential, not just within fashion but across all industries.

G: What are some of the biggest barriers you broke as an American fashion designer?

TH: For brands to have longevity and to keep evolving while remaining true to their DNA is no easy task, but I’m proud that we continue to stay relevant and connected to our consumers even today. Consumer-centricity guides us in everything we do, and it has helped us be a brand that leads the charge with collections and initiatives like Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive, the People’s Place Program, pop culture-driven collaborations, immersive shopping experiences, and more. To me, the most important part of this success is being able to give back and make a positive difference in the world.