NEW YORK, United States — “In the past, we would have a show and there would be a lot of excitement that day… and then the following week, it was business as usual,” said designer Tommy Hilfiger on Sunday at his New York studio, reflecting on the “halo” sales effect created by the brand’s first in-season runway show in September 2016. “This has had such a massive hangover effect, in a positive way.”
Hilfiger’s first in-season runway extravaganza, staged at New York City’s South Street Seaport last September, was a large-scale experiment involving intense effort and coordination across the company’s production, marketing and retail teams. It worked, reports the brand. Multiple styles sold out in 24 hours and sales grew double digits across the women’s category, with the highest gains in America, Japan and China. Revolve.com, for example, saw an over-70 percent sell-through rate on the TommyXGigi collaboration. Traffic to Tommy.com increased 900 percent in the first 48 hours and the runway show created over 2 billion social impressions.
With a framework in place, Hilfiger is doubling down on the approach with a music festival-inspired event on Venice Beach on Wednesday, February 8, 2017, its first-ever show outside New York. The designer will fly out with the models on “Tommy Air,” a branded plane, and content goldmine, on Tuesday night. The next evening, “Tommyland” will feature amusement rides, local food trucks, graffiti artists, rollerskaters, acrobats, fire-throwers and two surprise musical performances. The ambitious event — which is set to rival Victoria’s Secret’s annual runway show in terms of pageantry and spectacle — underscores fashion’s growth as a media and entertainment platform.
“Music has always been a part of our DNA,” said Hilfiger on the plans, adding that brand ambassador Gigi Hadid is a Southern California native. The region’s aesthetic, with a nostalgic twist, served as the inspiration of both the collection and the latest TommyXGigi capsule collaboration.
As with last season, every single item shown on the runway will be immediately available to shop globally on Tommy.com. The day after the show, it will be available at 280 Tommy Hilfiger stores in over 70 countries. At the same time, TommyXGigi will be available at over 150 wholesale partners and the Hilfiger Collection will be available at 39.
Tommy Hilfiger chief brand officer Avery Baker called the Spring 2017 runway show an “evolution” on last season's event, informed by consumer and wholesale partner feedback. The production schedule, while “still really complicated for our team,” remains the same: 70 percent of the show collection was sold to retail teams and wholesale buyers on the seasonal sales calendar in October while 30 percent was left open for purchase closer to the show. Four of the last pieces to be produced were selected by consumers through social media and in partnership with Refinery29, in a bid to maintain engagement between seasons.
“We kept the framework,” said Baker. “We have the ‘pull’ model for the longer production cycle and two waves closer to market that are still a bit more of a ‘push’ model. But I would actually say that they are becoming a pull model because our partners want to know: What’s the new injection?… The dynamic of how it’s happening is changing, rather than the process itself.”
This season, the scale of the initiative has increased. On Wednesday, Hilfiger will present 157 pieces versus about 100 last year, and double the amount of full looks. And for the first time, consumer guests (2,000) will outnumber trade professionals (about 1,000) in the audience.
What's more, guests will be again able to shop the collection immediately after the show at concert merchandise-style pop-ups with more inventory than was available in September, including customisable items that can be individually decorated with badges, patches and screen-printing.
And finally, just as Hilfiger tested a new technology in September — TMY.GRL, a branded conversational-commerce bot that allowed shoppers to browse the collection via Facebook Messenger — the brand is releasing another tech-powered touchpoint this season: a Tommyland image-recognition app aimed as show goers which can identify runway items in still and moving images and help users source them directly to tommy.com.
“This is such a breakthrough in shopping,” said Hilfiger on the app. “I think retailers are trying to figure out their next steps and I believe we are there.” As for Hilfiger’s next steps, the designer hints at plans to take the in-season, fashion-meets-entertainment approach global with elaborate runway events around the world. “I think evolving it into a global tour is an exciting thought,” he said. “Not being disruptive is not an option for us.”