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Hilfiger’s greatest hits

To mark his brand’s 25th birthday, Tommy Hilfiger has created the Icons range, which revisits some of his all-American classics.

Tommy Hilfiger rummages through a rail of samples from his Icons collection, the one-off heritage range for spring 11 showcasing 25 of the legendary designer’s most iconic pieces to celebrate 25 years of his eponymous brand.

It is the end of a long day at Hudson Studios, on West 26th Street in New York, the day before Hilfiger’s catwalk show and anniversary party on September 12.

“When I started 25 years ago, I reinvented the classics,” he says. “I never saw myself as an inventor because I don’t think any designer invented clothes. We started by developing a line for me to wear, which we called.

White Oxford shirt

This piece was in the very first Tommy Hilfiger range and every one since for both men and women.

TH: “So, we take the classic blouse and slim it, put a French cuff on it and high, tight arm holes and line it with the detail and trim and a brass engraved top button on the collar.”

The Icon ribbon runs along the side seams and inside collar on the Icon piece. The original style was inspired by Audrey Hepburn (pictured).

Varsity Shawl Sweater

The first Tommy Hilfiger collections were all about the preppy classics that Hilfiger grew up with, and the varsity cardigan was key to that look.

TH: “Paul Newman and Robert Redford (pictured) wore the varsity sweater, so I wanted to do our version of it in a new way, mixing cashmere into it, making the half-back stripe on the sleeve with the American flag and doing it in a couple of really classic colours. When I originally designed this sweater it wasn’t quite as snug,

it was a bit oversized. I made it in 100% Shetland wool. It’s now made in cashmere because people are so luxury conscious today and want something a bit more friendly towards their skin.”

Pea Coat

The pea coat debuted in 1985, with James Dean (pictured) a major inspiration.

TH: “I took the classic American naval pea coat and I made it a bit different. I cut it in an A-line with higher arm holes, tighter-fitting shoulders, and gave it a bit of a twist on the inside [with ribbon detailing]. I gave it a vintage feel.”

The Icon piece has a more streamlined, modern silhouette with a bright blue lining.


Classic American five-pocket jeans featured in the first collections for Tommy Hilfiger’s eponymous brand in 1985 and in every range since. Hilfiger was inspired by stars including singer Iggy Pop (pictured).

TH: “I took a jean and I washed it in a certain way and I detailed it in a certain way. I gave it a softness and a patina and I gave it details that were really very specifically just for me, but I based it on a classic five-pocket jean. The jean was invented in America and

worn by everyone from workers to rock stars to Hollywood stars to normal people.”

The Icon piece features new whiskering, but the straight-fit five-pocket style remains unchanged.

Ankle Cowboy Boots

Inspired by Marilyn Monroe (pictured) in seminal film The Misfits, ankle cowboy boots evoke memories of Hollywood for Hilfiger.

TH: “When you think of Hollywood you think of American heritage. You think of rock ‘n’ roll. I wanted to refer that to American classics and make them new.”

The boot is designed to look worn, with sun-bleached leather softened by wear. The Icon boots feature leather pull tabs with the Icons ribbon detailing and have a stacked Cuban heel.

Nautical Sweater

All the collections, especially for spring 11, have a nautical element.

TH: “We put the buttons on the side of the cashmere cowl-neck sweater so it can be worn unbuttoned or buttoned all the way up with a higher neck and we put the taping - the ribbon - on the open neck.”

The original piece, inspired by Grace Kelly, featured the nautical stripe in cotton and wool but the Icons range features a wool/cashmere blend.

Long-Sleeved PiquÉ Polo

Inspired by actor Dustin Hoffman’s character in 1960s film The Graduate, the long-sleeved piqué polo featured in the very first Tommy Hilfiger menswear collection and has been a mainstay in the range ever since.

Over the years, the designer has played with the fabrication and experimented with the colour palette and collar shapes. For the Icon version, Hilfiger

has opted for a simple style featuring a breast pocket, traditional long sleeves and button-down collar, executed in soft cotton piqué.

Sleeveless Trench

Trench coats featured in the Tommy Hilfiger menswear line in the 1980s and the first womenswear collections which launched in 1996.

TH: “We made the trench new by taking off the sleeves, putting on the gold buttons, making it into a waistcoat vest - or even a mini dress for some - but doing it in a heavyweight cotton twill, washed and relaxed.”

It also features a slim-line silhouette and the Icon ribbon, in this case in the pocket seams and binding the lining.

The piece was inspired by the style of Grace Kelly (pictured), says Hilfiger.

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