Tommy Hilfiger is now the principal designer at the label he found. And he still has this knack to find his way into any retail industry evolution. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Tommy Hilfiger will not mind taking help from virtual reality – if doing so means the apparel brand that bears his name can get in more sales. This is in line with global brands looking to get more growth in what’s seen as the next phase of online shopping.

“When we entered e-commerce, we were thinking of how to drive sales,” said Hilfiger, speaking at The Retail Summit in Dubai. “Just having runway shows wasn’t enough. We wanted to do catalogue runway shows featuring products people could buy immediately.

“We think that the Millennials and Gen Z want immediate gratification. When they see something, they want to buy it immediately.”

Hilfiger now holds the title of Principal Designer at his eponymous brand.

Tommy Hilfiger and Gigi Hadid
Tommy Hilfiger reckons that ecommerce could do with a lot more of real-time digital action.

Live streaming on Roblox

To attract consumers from ‘Generation Alpha’, or those born between 2010-25, the brand is engaging with the age group by diving deeper into Metaverse gaming platforms like Roblox. Its participation at the September 2022 New York Fashion Week was live-streamed on Roblox with a ‘see now, buy now’ element.

“The vision for the future has much to do with what we’ve been discussing regarding Metaverse and digital,” he said. “We feel we are a step ahead in the digital world with video gaming and our partnerships with Roblox and other opportunities.”

The show broadcast on Roblox had avatars wearing the collection walked through the platform’s virtual New York City. “The show was operating in the Metaverse and in real-time. So while we were launching our video game with Roblox, it was shown on the big screens during the show.

“We find that many Gen Z are playing video games, but they’re buying digital skins while playing the video games. Once they buy the physical, they want to buy the digital, and when they buy the digital, they want to buy the physical.”

The brand, which started in 1985 with preppy, casual clothes, is present in more than 100 countries, has more than 2,000 retail stores, and generated $9.3 billion in sales in 2021. (The US firm PVH Corp acquired Tommy Hilfiger in 2010.)

Tommy’s celebrity partners

A life-long student of retail, the 71-year-old designer said he is aware of what is going on in the world of pop culture and has an active presence on all forms of social media, including TikTok.

“I like to know what my competitors are doing at all times,” said Hilfiger.

Hilfiger said the brand had found incredible success collaborating with Gigi Hadid, Lewis Hamilton, Shawn Mendes and Zendaya.

He said, “I saw many brands hiring celebrities to be the face of the brand. But the celebrities were just paid models to become the face of many brands. I wanted to engage the celebrities and influencers into having a say in the design of our products because I felt that bringing youthful energy into the brand would drive the brand forward.

“Fortunately, it’s worked out very well.”