Full circle. Base-thumping chest, stomach wriggling, connected, pure, gladness, community.
Years ago the ripple of satin, well-cut coats, and luxury American sportswear sealed memories of the first fashion show I attended, at Tommy Hilfiger. Life curves us around and settles us in other distant corners for a time. That exciting place is here again, even though tonight there’s an ocean between us, okay, only a bit of the East River.
The Tommy Hilfiger show is about to begin. I’m photographing from the pier next door, and still feeling everything. It’s Friday night in New York City, and the South Seaport is popping and vibrant. I love New York for this. It’s fall fashion week, and at 7:00pm it’s 84 degrees. It’s been so hot this week that I’ve resorted to cabbing it a couple times—I have a weird thing against throwing money at that.
Seemingly overnight, Tommy Hilfiger has built a massive carnival on Pier 16, with a full-size Ferris wheel and spinning Gravitron. This location in the South Street Seaport, in lower Manhattan, is fitting because it’s going through a transformation of its own. Launching a woman’s line 20 years ago, tonight Hilfiger is welcoming in a new era with an industry-changing move. This is a big deal, and it needed a big stage. He’s named it Tommy Pier and it’s shining as bright as the city lights, with a magical view of the Brooklyn Bridge.
In an unprecedented move this fashion season, Tommy Hilfiger and a handful of other designers are showing “See Now, Buy Now” collections, forever changing how we enjoy and buy fashion. Every other designer is showing a Spring/Summer 2017 collection, which won’t be available for the customary six months from now. Holding roots and future, Hilfiger is marking this historic move with the Tommy x Gigi Collection. It’s his all-American vision wrapped up on his collaborator and muse, Gigi Hadid. Tommy and Gigi are a reassuring pairing, bringing in this change with a sense of ease and lightness–transition without the usual tug of discomfort.
The “See Now, Buy Now” movement is in answer to the churning going on in the fashion industry–declining luxury sales, and spent designers feeling like their chasing their tails. Some say sales have declined because we are an impatient lot who want immediate gratification, and others—like fast fashion–will feed that beast. Also, social media sharing gives us instant access to the new trends. We no longer have to wait six months until our Vogue arrives to get fashion advice and trend news. Trickling down to the consumer, too many women are already over it by the time the “new” fashions hit the stores. In Marketing 101, we learn that the opportunity is lost if budding excitement isn’t captured when it peaks. During this New York Fashion Week, a handful of designers like Tommy Hilfiger, Burberry, Tom Ford and Ralph Lauren, are now going rogue and teaching that marketing class. They’re generating buzz from their shows’ collection, with a marketing campaign behind it and they’re ready to instantly capture sales–like souvenirs from summer vacation.
Everyone’s label, Tommy Hilfiger invited 1,000 fashion-lovers from the general public to the fashion show. The next day, Tommy Pier was open to all, to play in the carnival and see the new line. Booths were themed with Tommy and Gigi’s favorite things, and nostalgic symbols of Hilfiger’s beginnings—a record store, and vintage clothing. What about the clothing? Tommy x Gigi at the pier store, combines a bunch of genres to look modern and cool. Seafaring-fishing-boat knits, with rock ‘n roll leather, oversized navy peacoats, military officer jackets, celestial sheer maxis, faux fur flight jackets, and varsity sweaters. On the runway, black over-the-knee socks with athletic stripes at the top were worn with same color booties, to sex up boyfriend sweaters worn as dresses.
Tommy Hilfiger’s inclusion of various themes in his line, and people at his show, played out again the following day as Kourtney Kardashian brought kids to hang out with everyone at Tommy Pier. Young, or grown-up, unknown or celeb, Hilfiger x Gigi works for us all. It circles back to 1971, as America saw a new wave of freedom and challenging the norms–when Hilfiger opened his first store. Last night at Tommy Pier, a new revolution in fashion has begun—wave the flag!
Photos: Dawn Bell Solich