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Tommy Hilfiger scores touchdown with football-themed show at New York fashion week

Tommy Hilfiger does not do subtlety. Presumably this is because the 63-year-old designer has by now figured out that subtlety is not what drives his multibillion dollar brand. For Hilfiger it is about pushing his design message for the season in the boldest, most unselfconscious way he can. So for a show that celebrated the brand’s 30th anniversary and took place on Presidents’ Day, the designer mined two of his favourite themes – America and sportswear. The result? A football pitch for a catwalk, a locker room instead of a backstage area, and quarterbacks replaced by models – all of which made for a fun-filled American football extravaganza.

Everything from the autumn 2015 show’s invitation, which resembled an NFL ticket, to the giant screen reflecting the show back to the audience was done with the American sports theme in mind. The designer even took a bow carrying a football helmet. On the front row sat New York Giant Victor Cruz – a smart echo of the fact that at many American sporting events there is now a celebrity “frow” to rival any you might see at fashion week.

The sportswear theme itself is a good bet in terms of sales. Sportswear has a hold on fashion at the moment; trainers and jogging bottoms are as commonplace as colourful fake fur coats and designer handbags, and the trend shows no signs of letting go anytime soon.

There wasn’t much nuance in the theme at Hilfiger. Sixtes and Seventies influenced athletic looks dominated. The designer said in his show notes – or “playbook” as he had it – that his inspiration for this autumn 2015 collection was “An American Love Story inspired by Ali MacGraw”. The opening look, which featured a navy cape with a Varsity stripe and wedge shoes resembling a football nodded to both the NFL and the actor . Similarly, fake fur football jumpers emblazoned with the number 30 and leather laced up cuffs (again inspired by the football) were unashamedly fun and eminently wearable.

Aside from the aesthetic appeal there was another reason why the designer riffed on football. Tommy Hilfiger, which (along with Calvin Klein) is owned by fashion powerhouse PVH, is keen to push its reputation as one of the more democratic fashion brands. As the designer had remarked ahead of the show “our inspiration this season is rooted in one of the most iconic and inclusive American past-times: football.” The emphasis for inclusivity was extended to social media, with looks being tweeted before they debuted on the catwalk giving potential customers a first look at the 30th anniversary designs – some of which were available to buy instantly from the brand’s website. As recent rising profits attest, backing inclusivity and focusing on the Tommy Hilfiger’s fans is the way to score a financial touchdown.

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