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Six leadership tips from Tommy Hilfiger

Even after more than 20 years, the legendary designer is synonymous with classic all-American fashion and his collaborations with high-profile personalities. Here, Hilfiger shares how to evolve a brand across several decades and international markets.

1. What does leadership mean to you?

My leadership style has always been about promoting and embodying my core values. Determined optimism, inclusivity, circularity, dreaming big, being quality-obsessed and real are principles embedded in our brand purpose. 

2. What are the three biggest lessons you’ve learned when it comes to creating a long-lasting brand?

Stay true to your dreams and the values you believe in. Know your business’s numbers inside and out. And don’t chase trends, because only the classics will withstand the test of time.

3. What are your tips on creating the ideal customer experience?

Since opening my very first store, the People’s Place, I have created retail environments that are destinations for experiences that go beyond shopping. It’s about more than drinking coffee and hearing good music in the background – it’s about sharing culture-rich experiences in spaces where people want to hang out, invite friends and return in their free time. 

4. How do you build and scale a brand without losing its authenticity and voice?

Fashion is about reinvention while staying true to your brand’s identity. Since founding the brand nearly 35 years ago, we have upheld our classic American cool DNA while constantly evolving by staying on the pulse of pop culture. Every season brings an exciting opportunity to reinvent the classics, giving consumers products they know and love, but with a fresh, modern twist.

5. You began working with hip-hop artists from the beginning. What are your tips for creating great collaborations that benefit a business?

Collaborations work when they’re authentic. It’s not about choosing artists with the largest fan base or social media following. Collaborations truly resonate when the partner aligns with the brand values on their own, but can present them through a unique, new lens. My advice is to find people who can tell your story their way.

6. How do you balance focusing on creativity and innovation with also being business-savvy and designing products that will sell? 

I’m fortunate to be surrounded by an incredible global team. I work with dedicated people who are specialised in each of these areas, and teach me so much every day. Innovation is now the key to success in every part of your business, from consumer retention, to creativity, to design.

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