American cool meets British modHow eagerly have Koreans been waiting for the launching of Tommy Hilfiger here?
The inaugural show of Tommy Hilfiger’s 2003 fall collection, on a recent Friday evening in the Star Tower building, gave some indication of how anxiously the American brand has been anticipated. Local organizers had expected 500 guests, but more than 1,000 turned up to jam-pack the fashion show and the reception space on the 30th floor.
To Koreans, Tommy Hilfiger is associated with downtown or hip-hop cool. Local pop singers wore its loose-fitting sportswear even before the brand was officially launched in Korea.
Now the look was grown-up and city-chic. The stylish and sleek presentation in the Star Tower building, associated with young, urban professionals, signaled the brand’s plan for a change: the revival of urban cool in retro-American style.
The runway for the show was all minimalist white, featuring only the simple Tommy Hilfiger logo. The reception hall was decorated in the brand’s quintessentially American colors: red, blue and white.
Since his first launching of a men’s collection in 1984, Tommy Hilfiger, the New York-based fashion designer, has expanded his line of clothing to reflect the modern cool of American youth. Collaboration with partners Silas Chou, Lawrence Stroll and Joel Horowitz led to the establishment of the Tommy Hilfiger brand in 1992.
Today, Tommy Hilfiger is a comprehensive lifestyle brand ― including men, women, children, housewares, perfume, sportswear, watches and cosmetics lines ― sold in 29 countries outside the U.S. Its launch in Korea marks its seventh expansion to an Asian country, following Japan, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.
By Aug. 22, Tommy Hilfiger Korea will have 12 stores, including one flagship store in southern Seoul and 11 locations in major department stores nationwide. According to the company’s domestic partner, SK Global, a total of 46 Korean locations are planned by the end of next year.
Kim Man-gyun, the head of SK Global’s Fashion Business Division, said that some 40 local companies bid for the partnership, which was considered one of the decade’s most coveted deals in Korea’s fashion industry.
The fashion show at the Star Tower building featured the designer’s modernized retro style ― derived from British mod and American preppy, with a twist of bohemian chic. Hilfiger has said the look was inspired by the moment of the “British Invasion” when the Beatles arrived at JFK International Airport in New York on Feb. 7, 1964.
A regimental tie and a pinstriped oxford shirt, worn with a navy blazer with gold buttons and tartan checks, and a Shetland wool Fair Isle sweater worn over an A-line miniskirt revived the back-to-school look that originated in classic British fashion.
If the academic look was too formal, there were some items borrowed from the ’80s: Down parkas, anoraks and hooded windbreakers, matched with training suits and striped shirts or scarves, meant vintage street-athletic. Blousons and officer’s jackets also added military chic a la the ’80s.
The color scheme at the Star Tower show was diverse. Tommy Hilfiger’s signature colors, red, navy and white, were cross-matched with warm natural hues, from beige to taupe brown, camel, mustard, khaki, brown and black.
The ultimate cool this season meant going further back to the past. Skip the disco era of the ’70s, dive into ’60s mod and let the legendary British rock band The Who get passionate with “My Generation.”
Pea coats with large buttons and short A-line dresses in large houndstooth patterns over patent leather boots in black or white could be traced back to the mod look of ’60s model Twiggy.
Digging up ’60s vintage, one cannot help coming across hippie accessories. In this collection, there was a subtle mixture of bourgeois and bohemian. Bell-bottomed pants in denim and corduroy were casually worn with a striped jersey top and a lightly constructed jacket or blouson.
According to Mr. Hilfiger, the time has finally come to dig into our parents’ old, old closet. We must find that perfectly geeky jersey and a narrow knit scarf long enough to graze those shiny go-go boots.
by Ines Cho
More in Features
Sculptor Joo Hoo-sik finds inspiration in the Year of the Cow
Nothing's fair in love and Covid
Top culture stories of the year
[ZOOM KOREA] The pipe organ master with plans for a uniquely Korean instrument
ENFJ-LMNOPQ what does the MBTI say about you?