Our Truffle Hunter Magda Berliner sat down with Tommy Hilfiger last week for a chat before the opening fete of his new LA store … complete with red carpets, stars, and an after party at Soho House!
Magda Berliner: Firstly, congratulations and welcome to Los Angeles.
Tommy Hilfiger: Thank you, good to be here.
MB: Why Robertson, and why now?
TH: Location, Location, Location. When we opened on Rodeo, we waited for foot traffic and there was no traffic; we waited for young traffic and there was no young traffic and after a few years we thought we were just wasting our time, so we thought, okay let’s close this store and look for a new location and we started looking and really couldn’t find anything great so we said, let’s just wait and then we found this …
MB: The store is beautiful; I love the awning, the ship awning.
TH: Thank you, this is like an old yacht …
MB: Yes, we love that! The store is interspersed with shots of vintage pieces and fixtures … that goes back to your roots and love of vintage?
TH: Yes, I’m a fanatic!
MB: Let’s talk a little bit of your kinship with music; fashion and rock n roll have had a long alliance; you have worked with Aaliyah, Lenny Kravitz, Britney Spears, Beyonce; and of course tonight Alicia Keys will be performing … Have you had any personal aspirations of being a musician?
TH: Well, when I was your daughter’s age (referring to Magda’s reporting apprentice for the day; 18-year-old Lillian Berliner), I learned quickly I was not musically inclined; I loved music but I couldn’t play. I decided to look like a rock star back then … I wore bell bottoms and had long hair … hippy style. I opened a small shop when I was eighteen and it became successful and then I opened another and another … Then one day I thought, I should be designing the clothes because I think I could come up with better ideas than what I was offering. I started sketching and I made the clothes for my store and I had much success.
MB: You may still have a shot at a career in music … you are much younger than Mick Jagger …
TH: I think this suits me fine … I know how to do this, I don’t know how to do that!
MB: What are some future plans for expansion?
TH: We have stores all over the world: China, Russia, India, Brazil … we have over a thousand stores. We have a brisk business in Europe; in fact, business outside the US is bigger than inside the US …
MB: I believe that’s because you are so successful in bringing the Americana brand globally in a very relatable manner with the different divisions of merchandise, ie: children’s, denim, accessories, etc. … This location will have exclusivity to your tuxedo collection; now is that tuxedo with a capital ‘T’?
TH: No, we do a lot of cool, young tuxedos. They are not black and boring, we do colors as well as black and with awards season we have a whole collection for that customer.
MB: Sounds great! Is it unisex?
TH: No, but I guess a woman can wear as well!
MB: You have a long philanthropic history with foundations that focus on youth health and education, such as Corporate Foundation, Millenium Promise, Camp Tommy and now your collaboration with P.S. Arts … does this have anything to do with your being the second oldest in a family of nine?
TH: It might have something to do with it , but also when I was growing up my mother took in children from our neighborhood who were less fortunate so I think my brothers, sisters and I always looked at how can we help others; whether it was having them over for a warm home cooked dinner or giving them our hand me downs; reaching out somehow.
MB: P.S. Arts has a great place in our community and this collaboration is very exciting.
TH: I think if we can make a difference with a few students, we would be very happy.
MB: Will your family be spending more time in Los Angeles? Do you have a location in mind to settle?
TH: Yes we will be but no, the hotel is fine for now … they do the laundry and deliver room service … they don’t do that at home!
This interview is by Magda Berliner. Special Thanks for the recording assistance of Lillian Berliner.