Fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger started his empire with a chain of jean shops in New York in the 1970s, so the man knows his denim.
The US style maven is curious about the faded $7 op shop flares I’m wearing when we meet at Melbourne’s Crown Towers on November 15, hours before he launches his flagship store at the upmarket Emporium.
“Those are very nice,” says Hilfiger, who the day before threw a celebrity-filled party in Sydney as part of his lighting first ever tour of Australia, where he has 17 standalone stores.
“Are they real vintage? Who are they made by? Very nice.”
It’s not every day a suburban matron gets a compliment from Tommy Hilfiger, but as the father-of-five tells The New Daily, he thinks denim is a key part of any woman’s wardrobe.
His own look is head to toe classic Hilfiger: the crispest of khaki chinos, a navy knit with subtle branding over a white box-fresh polo and white sneakers.
“For many years it has been my dream to visit Australia,” says the 68-year-old father of five, who is in town with wife Dee Ocleppo, 52, to talk his style, world and vision.
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What would you never wear?
Hmm. Ah, I would never wear a brown suit. I only wear navy or grey or a black tuxedo. I’ve seen men wearing brown suits and I have a pet peeve about it. I also don’t like violet or sort of aqua turquoise.
If I opened your closet am I going to see a sea of extremely well organised clothes in navy and white and tan?
You’re going to see white shirts. And blue. Mainly light blue, blue stripes, blue and white stripes, blue and white checks, ah, khaki, olive, and some red jeans in addition to blue jeans. Navy blazers, navy suits, grey suits, dark grey, light grey, charcoal grey.
I’m getting the picture.
What’s an easy way for women to look fabulous every day?
Jeans are always great. And you can wear jeans dressed up or dressed down. I think leggings are also very easy to wear, but certainly denim or a white blouse with jeans looks great. I can picture it. I think the jean has to be a well-fitted jean.
You champion adaptive, inclusive fashion to make dressing easier for people with a disability. How are you also becoming more sustainable?
Well, we’re recycling denim, we’re making fabric out of plastic bottles, we are washing without water, which is a big one because when we wash with water the indigo dyes become very toxic so the water waste is tremendous.
I always wanted to build my clothing with a certain quality standard that would allow people to wear the clothes forever. And also we’re not so overly fashionable that something will go completely out of style in a short amount of time.
Who are you designing for?
For men, I think a modern well travelled guy who likes sports and one who could dress up or dress down. We call it sort of preppy. For women, someone who has a certain amount of confidence in herself but I would say is modern classic.
Who embodies that?
Well someone you can relate to is Margot Robbie. To me she embodies the perfect classic look. We Americans think she’s pretty terrific.
What’s your idea of luxury?
I think lifestyle, having time to be able to do what you want to do, eating in good restaurants, exercise, visit and travel to different places.
What inspires you?
I’m really a curious person and I like to really know what’s going on in the wold of pop culture, fashion, art, music, entertainment, sports. I’m really quite obsessed with what is going on.