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Tommy Hilfiger announces key partnerships to drive minority representation

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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Tommy Hilfiger has announced key partnerships with its People’s Place Program to champion Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) in fashion to advance underrepresented communities.

The American fashion brand, owned by PVH Corp., said the first of its partnerships will see it joining forces with Harlem’s Fashion Row and The Fashion and Race Database on several initiatives. Both organisations the company added were chosen to help it lead the way on engaging year-round with “recognised leaders who are known for championing inclusion and diversity”.

Tommy Hilfiger, principal designer at Tommy Hilfiger Global, said in a statement: “The People’s Place Program is a cornerstone in our efforts to open the door to everyone who has been left out by fashion. This welcoming spirit has always been at the heart of our brand, and we are here to do more and to do better.”

The People’s Place Program was launched in July 2020, drawing inspiration from Hilfiger’s very first store of the same name established in 1969 in his hometown of Elmira, NY. The initiative aims to amplify the company’s efforts and dedication of resources to increasing opportunities and visibility for underrepresented communities within the fashion and apparel industries around the world.

The platform acts through three pillars: Partnerships and Representation, Career Support and Industry Access, and Industry Leadership – to achieve meaningful, long-lasting change, explains the company.

Tommy Hilfiger joining forces with Harlem’s Fashion Row and The Fashion and Race Database

The Fashion and Race Database is an online platform created by Kim Jenkins, assistant professor of fashion studies at Ryerson University that expands the narrative of fashion history and challenges misrepresentation within the fashion system. The database is an educational resource that brings the focus back on people who previously had been hidden in the margins of fashion history.

The People’s Place Program will partner with the Fashion and Race Database to fund and support a new research study called ‘The Unsung History of American Sportswear’ to uncover overlooked influences from Black American culture on signature Tommy Hilfiger styles. Throughout 2021, the research will be developed into content series and educational resources that will be available internally, and to industry peers and consumers. The material will be designed to engage with audiences about the unrecognised areas of American style and to open a new dialogue on how marginalised history can come forward through purposeful collaborations in the industry.

“The Fashion and Race Database is thrilled to partner with an American company like Tommy Hilfiger and its namesake brand, a vibrant piece of fashion history,” said Jenkins. “As a professor and founder of the database, it has been my mission to urge brand owners to embrace what fashion education has to offer the industry. Tommy Hilfiger understands and respects the power of this learning, and is leading the charge, showing its peers what is possible in building a more intelligent and compassionate fashion system.”

The research will include a detailed examination of American sportswear through a study of denim, the cotton trade, origins of preppy style at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the sartorial expression of social activist moments, streetwear culture, and additional categories that will come to life through the Fashion and Race Database’s research.

Randy Cousin, SVP, product concepts and People’s Place Program, added: “This critically timed relationship will support the Fashion and Race Database’s goal to centre and amplify radicalised fashion scholarship, illuminate under-examined histories and address representation throughout fashion.”

The second partnership will be with Harlem Fashion Row, a New York-based agency founded by Brandice Daniel in 2007 to champion the advancement of people of colour in the fashion industry.

Tommy Hilfiger will be a supporting sponsor for Harlem Fashion Row’s 3rd Annual Digital Fashion Summit, taking place on February 18, 2021. Hilfiger and Cousin will join Daniel to discuss how the company is working towards creating more access and opportunities for Black, Indigenous and people of colour in the fashion industry.

The American brand will also partner with Harlem Fashion Row to identify ways for emerging talent to receive mentorship and network with internal teams as well as industry insiders.

Commenting on the partnership, Daniel, founder and chief executive of Harlem Fashion Row, said: “We are delighted to partner with Tommy Hilfiger on the Annual Digital Fashion Summit to highlight solutions and practices for diversity and inclusion in the fashion industry.

“With our collaborative effort, we aim to address and implement change. Addressing the concerns takes a long-term commitment and we acknowledge the steps that Tommy Hilfiger is taking, and we are elated about their upcoming plans to provide opportunities for designers of colour.”

In addition, Tommy Hilfiger said that it would be using its global reach to bring communities together to drive positive change through its spring campaigns for both its mainline and Tommy Jeans. Each campaign will feature a diverse cast of social, cultural and creative influencers, including activists, musicians, poets, dancers, and filmmakers.

This month, Black talent, including musician and producer Saba, and the horse riding and mentorship collective Compton Cowboys, will take over the brand’s social media channels to highlight significant moments in Black American history and celebrate the people and culture that inspire them every day.

Over the summer, Hilfiger will launch collaborative capsule collections with actor, model and activist, Indya Moore, and fashion designer and longtime mentee of Hilfiger, Romeo Hunte.

Avery Baker, president and chief brand officer at Tommy Hilfiger Global, added: “We are determined to continue putting real action behind our words. Equity and inclusion cannot be achieved through short-term recognition; we have to bring them to the forefront every day.”

Images: courtesy of Tommy Hilfiger

Harlem's Fashion Row
The Fashion and Race Database
Tommy Hilfiger