First Look: Tommy Hilfiger, Romeo Hunte Release Fall Collaboration

Sunday September 12, 2021
Originally published on August 12, 2021

Collaborators Tommy Hilfiger and Romeo Hunte describe their new fall capsule collection as "the meshing of Manhattan prep and Brooklyn street."

The collection dives into the Tommy Hilfiger archives, using Romeo Hunte's deconstruction techniques to reconstruct, remix and reimagine iconic pieces like the classic bonded trench coat remixed with sailing jacket color-blocking or clashed with a leather biker jacket. The TommyXRomeo capsule builds on the company's People's Place Program, a three-pillared platform with the mission of advancing representation in fashion and beyond.

Filmmaker Ronan Mckenzie created a short video to capture the collection in motion.

"As a young, upcoming designer, I was lucky to be guided by incredible leaders who made a huge impact on my career," said Hilfiger. "I am passionate about passing that on, mentoring the next generation of design talent. I've been supportive of and worked with Romeo Hunte for over five years. He is one of those truly exceptional newcomers — someone you know is going to make an impact as soon as you see his work. I'm really proud of our capsule - it's truly a meeting point of our two worlds. Together we've really focused on passing the mic to the next generation of BIPOC creatives and thought leaders to increase representation and amplify their talent globally. Through the People's Place Program, we want to give them a true platform to shine."

"Tommy has been such a supportive mentor to me over the years," said Hunte. "Reinvention is a fundamental part of my design DNA, so pushing the boundaries of the brand's archives has been an incredibly creative and meaningful experience. We also wanted to take this concept further, challenging the status quo from the design process to the campaign and the crew to re-imagine and redefine the future. I'm really proud of what we've achieved and hope to inspire the next generation of talent to dream big."

For the Fall 2021 TommyXRomeo capsule, Hilfiger opened the archives to Hunte, clashing classic Tommy Hilfiger design codes with Romeo Hunte's signature deconstruction techniques and with a focus on non-gender specific outerwear. The collection brings a modern and bold twist to the brand's icons — the trench coat, the biker jacket, the Oxford shirt. A preppy button-down comes in unexpected, playful proportions, with the brand's heritage Ithaca stripe reimagined in the colors of the New York City subway.

In addition, as part of the campaign, six one-off, upcycled TommyXRomeo polos will also be auctioned via the online auction site Catawiki, with proceeds donated to the FMA (Fashion Minority Alliance), a non-profit focused on collaborating with fashion and industry stakeholders to build and foster a more diverse, balanced, and inclusive industry that advances meaningful and long-term equity and advancement for BIPOC and historically marginalized creative talent.

TommyxRomeo, In Their Words

What was the inspiration behind the latest TommyXRomeo collection?

TOMMY: New York City was a big inspiration. It's a collaboration that brings together our two worlds — my signature Manhattan prep and Romeo's Brooklyn streetstyle. We explored the archives together to find iconic pieces that the brand is best known for, remixing and reimaging them in bold new ways for today.

ROMEO: The collection is a celebration of the creative intersection between Tommy's established design legacy and my signature deconstruction techniques. Designing a capsule that challenges the status quo and that anyone can wear was also very important to us, so we put a strong focus on non-gender specific outerwear.

How did you approach designing the collection?
TOMMY: Romeo and I share a passion for detail. We wanted to co-create pieces that showcase elevated craftmanship, exceptional fabrics and bold elements. The collection is both edgy and sophisticated.

ROMEO: Reinvention is part of my design DNA, so it's been an exciting challenge to be able to take iconic pieces from the Tommy Hilfiger archives and reconstruct and reimagine them in a way that's both familiar but totally new. We got really creative, deconstructing silhouettes, playing with proportions, and clashing fabrics to create styles that are simultaneously statement-making and wearable.

What is the significance of the six boxes in the TommyXRomeo campaign?
ROMEO: The six boxes symbolize the six core pillars of my brand, namely genderless, sustainability, mixer (mixing media and silhouettes), transformative, stamp (print and details) and heritage. These principles represent who we are, what we do and why we do it. They are the foundations that I build every collection on, and they served as a meaningful shared starting point for myself and Tommy in designing our capsule.

TOMMY: The values represented in Romeo's brand DNA and embodied in his logo truly align with what we as a brand have represented over the past 35 years. Since the beginning I have always looked for partnerships with individuals and brands who share our core beliefs. Romeo brings these values to life everyday through his vision, dedication and designs.

Why do you think fashion is an important platform for fostering inclusivity?
TOMMY: Fashion is the ultimate vessel for self-expression. It brings people together. As a brand, we're on a mission to create fashion that Welcomes All so I wanted to co-design a collection and campaign where everyone feels accepted, included and empowered to express their true selves.

ROMEO: Fashion reaches into everyone's lives; from the clothes they wear every day to the people they follow and admire. This means brands have an incredible platform and opportunity to lead the way by example. But inclusivity isn't just about representation, it's about amplifying voices and actively embracing everyone at all levels of the industry.

Why is mentorship so important to you?
TOMMY: I have been lucky to learn from incredible mentors throughout my career and I am passionate about paying that forward. Our People's Place mentorship program is about fostering a diverse and inclusive community and spotlighting BIPOC creative talent. I've been supportive of and worked with Romeo for over five years, and I see a lot of my younger self in him. I want to nurture his incredible talent in a way that gives back to an industry that has given me so much.

ROMEO: Tommy has been a great mentor to me over the years. He's incredibly supportive, and I've learned a lot from him about the fashion industry. He always reminds me to 'dream big'! The fashion industry is already tough but my experience as a Black designer is that your work is often overlooked, or your voice isn't heard so I am also very invested in sharing my own experiences and using this platform to inspire and guide the designers of the future in following their own dreams.

The TommyXRomeo campaign also spotlights the work of the behind-the-scenes talent. Why was that important?
TOMMY: Our People's Place Program is about creating opportunity for creative talent from underrepresented BIPOC communities, both in front of and behind the camera. That was top of our minds from the moment Romeo and I started to collaborate - from the design process to choosing our talented cast and crew. A lot of the incredible work that brings these projects to life happens hidden behind-the-scenes, so we wanted to take a moment to celebrate that too.

ROMEO: Representation and inclusivity is important at all stages of the creative process, so it was really important to us that the campaign was made by BIPOC creatives. Their voices are also an important part of our message. We wanted to also give the audience a chance to meet the faces behind the collaboration and the campaign to inspire both fans and the next generation of creative talent.

What is your favorite piece from the collection?
TOMMY: The preppy button down. I love the unexpected, playful proportions, and how our heritage Ithaca stripe is reimagined in the colors of the New York City subway.

ROMEO: The classic bonded trench coat remixed with sailing jacket color-blocking. It's a joyful take on a classic piece.

What three words would you use to describe the collection?
TOMMY: Edgy. Sophisticated. Iconic.

ROMEO: Reimagined. Elevated. Exceptional.