How Tommy Hilfiger is Changing the Runway

Last week Wednesday, the fashion industry’s attention was turned to the West coast even though it was one day before the start of New York Fashion Week. Tommy Hilfiger’s second Tommy x Gigi collection debuted in California, creating even more excitement than the prior, record-breaking and game-changing collection between the American designer and his supermodel partner, Gigi Hadid.

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The longstanding format of fashion week has been in flux since last fall. In my article for Moda magazine last spring, I discussed how designers have become burnt out with the traditional, fast-forwarded format of fashion week. Traditionally, designers would show fall collections in the spring and spring collections in the fall so as to set the trends six months down the road and allow fashion publications and retailers to plan for their future issues and make buying decisions. The pressure of working so far ahead in addition to the fact the six month lead time offers bountiful opportunities for knockoffs, the fashion industry began to rethink the runway.

It’s an exciting time for fashion as different designers experiment with new runway formats, showing clothing that can be bought immediately following the runway, playing up social media and involving not just fashion elites but everyday consumers as well. One designer who has stood out and went above and beyond is Tommy Hilfiger.

Following this fall’s first Tommy x Gigi line, “Traffic to increased 900 percent in the first 48 hours and the runway show created over 2 billion social impressions,” according to Business of Fashion.

Why has he stood out? He fully embraced change and strategically experimented with not just one but multiple elements of his show to give it its viral effect.

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The Collaboration:

The Tommy x Gigi collection is a collaboration between the well-established, American designer who had began to lose his position as a household name and the recently explosive supermodel, Gigi Hadid. The collaboration was genius, as Hadid is one of the fastest growing supermodels in the industry and is known for her social media presence. By using the concept of cumulative advantage, as explained here by the New York Times, the designer was able use Gigi’s pre-established fame and social media presence to skyrocket the collection’s audience.

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Danielle Bernstein of We Wore What before the show. Photo source: We Wore What

The promotion:

The social media promotion for the Tommy x Gigi collection began almost 24 hours before the show as fashion influencers like the show’s models and key fashion bloggers were all flown from New York to California on a branded plane dubbed “Tommy Air.” The models and bloggers shared every moment from boarding the plane to their impromptu on-board dance party on their Snapchat and Instagram accounts. The day of the show the same models and bloggers took their followers on their journey through “Tommyland” the branded, pop-up amusement park the show was set up in. While live video from the front row audience is common at all runway shows these days, Tommy x Gigi took it one step further by allowing the looks to be bought in real time, not six months down the road. With the success rate Tommy Hilfiger has seen through this “see-now-buy-now” format, other designers would be silly to not join in.


The audience:

Fashion shows used to be only for the small crowd of the fashion elite. This created a sense of exclusivity designer brands used to leverage as an integral part of their brand identity. Exclusivity is no longer as cool and through social media like Snapchat or Instagram, more and more common consumers catch glimpses of fashion shows. Tommy x Gigi welcomed not only the usual group of fashion influencers but a much larger audience of consumers to view the show in person, according to Business of Fashion. By doing so the designer is tapping into The Long Tail, as mentioned here in Wired, of others interested in fashion but not necessarily in the very small “influencer” crowd. Many of these spectators may have their own smaller fashion blogs or circles of friends interested in fashion that they can now share their experience with and increase Tommy Hilfiger’s brand equity and possibly spark future purchases from these Long Tail groups.


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