Above is Tommy Hilfiger’s 2016 Spring/Summer collection, I love this collection but am some what conflicted about the designers inspiration, let me explain why. It’s a beautiful celebration of Island life in Jamaica and a perfect snap shot of 1970’s and 80’s downtown trends; It looks and feels like authentic Jamaican fashion, style and culture; however the collection does feel some what of a ripe off; Hilfiger has totally ripped off Jamaican fashion and paid zero amount of homage to the people who have pioneered the style. From my research I have found no articles or video footage of Hilfiger mentioning Jamaica or the ‘Jamaica’s downtown street culture’ as primary inspiration for this collection; sadly over 70% of this collection can be found in Jamaica’s markets, which strikes me as being counterfeit. As much as the designs are authentic, they have zero amount of purpose or meaning from the designer, which makes the pieces become mere copies and counterfeits of the original culture the garments were created in. For those that are not familiar with Jamaica’s heritage or culture this collection may seem pure genius, as he has created a strong conveyance of island life as his narrative, used those island colours as a generous amount of vibrant colour within the collections palette (Rastafarian colours), a strong use of textiles (constructed textiles vs prints) a lovely blend of retro 1970’s hippie style with a heavy emphasis on retro Jamaica’s post colonial struggle and the street trends that then emerged. It’s a beautiful celebration of the Jamaica’s cultural development but Hilfiger does not note Jamaica in his works,and that frustrates me deeply. It would be like me creating a 22 piece collection of Versace inspired silk printed shirts, and taking inspiration of 1980’s Milan socialite party scene culture and not paying any homage to either Milan’s elegant nightlife in the 1980’s and the man (Gianni Versace) who inspired the collections overall styling. It just comes across as arrogant and rude.
It wasn’t long ago that African Americans boycotted his brand for remarks he made about ‘to many black people wearing his fashion, he did not create his clothes for Blacks to wear’ of which he strenuously denies. Who really truly knows the truth but under two decades later it is he whom is now the wearer of Black people peoples Fashion. (funny isn’t it)
If a designer we often take from other cultures to inspire our collections however it’s important to pay respect to the culture you are borrowing or evolving ideas from. In this collection Hilfiger has not evolved the style and form of dress, sadly there is nothing new here, the mesh/ string vest style garment can be brought from any town’s market/stores in Jamaica for a fraction of Hilfiger Luxury price tag.
Further reading; http://www.highsnobiety.com/2015/10/07/tommy-hilfiger-racism-scandal/