It’s likely you’ll know a Tommy Hilfiger red, white and blue sweater when you see it. With the brand’s small logo embroidered on the left hand side, it’s a staple item in any preppy wardrobe, without realising there is more to the fashion designer than the traditional American aesthetic we’re familiar with. The reality is that the brand is deeply invested in uplifting the next generation of designers and championing diversity, inclusion and sustainability. Last year, the brand announce
nced the finalists of the 2021 Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Frontier Challenge, showcasing six global entrepreneurs building businesses to accelerate change within the fashion industry. In its third edition, the Fashion Frontier Challenge is a global initiative supporting innovative concepts aimed at helping the fashion industry become more sustainable and inclusive. The program is an extension of the brand’s sustainability vision to Waste Nothing and Welcome All. “The Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Frontier Challenge embodies our long-standing mission to harness the power of fashion to foster inclusivity, representation and change,” said Tommy Hilfiger in a statement. “Our industry will only move forward with new, fresh ideas that challenge how we think, build and create.” With over 430 applications from startups and scaleups around the world, the program strives to continue amplifying and supporting diverse entrepreneurs who are working to advance their communities. “As a brand, it’s vital we use our platform to give entrepreneurs like our finalists a voice and opportunity to create real and long-lasting impact,” added Hilfiger. The six finalists include South African-based social enterprise Clothes to Good; Switzerland-based product traceability technology Haelixa; Ethiopian sustainable fashion brand Mafi Mafi; Dutch artificial intelligence startup Lalaland; Kenya-based jewellery business leveraging mobile technology Soko; and Uzuri K&Y a Rwandan-based eco-friendly shoe brand. For the past few months, these entrepreneurs have been supported by Tommy Hilfiger and leading professionals from non-profit business school INSEAD, refining their business plans in preparation to pitch to a panel of industry leaders during the final event. With seven experts overseeing the Fashion Frontier Challenge including Hilfiger himself the esteemed panel will review the final presentations and announce two winners during a special event scheduled on January 12-13, 2022 hosted by Arooj Artab, content creator, illustrator, writer and founder of #DonewithDiversity. The winners will receive €100,000 each to accelerate their ventures, a year-long mentorship with Tommy Hilfiger and INSEAD experts, and a place in the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Program. This amount of support for emerging fashion entrepreneurs is rare within the industry, particularly as it’s led by a globally recognised apparel brand. Through partnerships and collaborations, Tommy Hilfiger is working toward a more circular and inclusive future of fashion. An emblem for change The red, white and blue Tommy Hilfiger logo, a symbolic flag representing change and inclusivity standing tall in the fashion world, is a welcome beacon for emerging designers to access support and resources from an established household name. “It is in our nature to drive change, even in the most challenging of times. We are proud to continue amplifying the ideas of entrepreneurs that are creating the fashion landscape we want, and need, to see,” said Martijn Hagman, CEO, Tommy Hilfiger Global and PVH Europe. Hilfiger himself received the Outstanding Achievement Award at the British Fashion Council’s Fashion Awards last year, when he was recognised for his significant contribution to the global fashion industry and continued commitment to creating an inclusive brand. As part of the Tommy Hilfiger vision to Waste Nothing and Welcome All, there are four pillars that guides the brand; make products fully circular, operate with sensibility to planetary boundaries, always inclusive and completely accessible, and create equal access to opportunities. To date, the brand has implemented several initiatives such as training 82 per cent of their designers on circular design strategies. It was also the first brand to use 100 per cent recycled cotton fabric at an industrial scale for denim jeans, and its appleskin sneaker incorporates 24 per cent of recycled apple fibres as an alternative to leather. Tommy Hilfiger also has a range of adaptive clothing for people with disabilities and Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive Skill, a virtual assistant using artificial intelligence developed by Amazon for Alexa, which can help these customers purchase clothing from the brand. There are 73 million people with disabilities around the world who experience difficulties shopping for clothing and getting dressed. By designing an adaptive range and voice activated virtual assistant, Tommy Hilfiger is ensuring their brand is practical and widely accessible. With the fashion industry changing at a rapid pace, a combined effort is required to ensure both established brands and emerging designers create fashion’s future. Tommy Hilfiger is continuously transforming its entire business and supply chain, documenting best practices, and circular design methods, embedding a culture of inclusivity and accessibility within the bounds of its legacy brand and collections.