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The BoF Podcast: Lewis Hamilton on How His Formula 1 Career Led Him to Collaborate With Tommy Hilfiger

From race cars to runways, Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton sat down with BoF’s Editor-in-Chief Imran Amed to discuss his collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger, who also makes a special appearance in this week’s episode of the BoF Podcast.

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LONDON, United Kingdom — Lewis Hamilton, six-time Formula 1 world champion and the latest collaborator for Tommy Hilfiger's #TommyNow collections, hasn't always felt confident in his personal style.

Aged 23, Hamilton secured his first Formula 1 championship, the youngest driver to have claimed the title at the time. But his skill in the car didn’t translate to a feeling of acceptance in the boardroom.

During his first meeting with Formula 1’s boss, “I remember him looking me up and down and it felt so judgemental because I wasn’t in a shirt… I remember feeling like I had to conform to what he wanted me to look like in order to be good enough to be accepted into the environment.”

Hailed as one of the best racing drivers in the history of the sport, Hamilton began his career at eight years old. He likens his own remarkable rise to the top of Formula 1 to Cool Runnings, the film which documents the unlikely story of the Jamaican Bobsled Team at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada.

“I relate a lot of my life to that movie because they arrive at the top of a hill with a rust bucket and everyone goes quiet… when we got to races I remember people looking at us like, 'What are they doing here.'”

From the front row to backstage, Hamilton transformed chance meetings with Tommy Hilfiger into a Mercedes-Tommy Hilfiger official apparel partnership.

The naturally shy Hamilton has always channelled his personality through his own sense of style. His first foray into fashion was at a Hugo Boss runway show which sparked an interest in an industry "that embraces individual self-expression." He felt his passion for music and style was reflected in the clothes and that "gave me that space to be able to express myself," he said.

From the front row to backstage, Hamilton transformed chance meetings with Tommy Hilfiger into a Mercedes-Tommy Hilfiger official apparel partnership that ended Mercedes’ long-term relationship with Hugo Boss. In 2018, he inked a deal to become a Tommy Hilfiger ambassador.

“I liked him as a person and I liked his sense of style,” said Hilfiger. “He also brought in a lot of his own ideas and it gave our brand a refresher.”

Tommy Hilfiger’s latest see-now-buy-now collection — a mix of graffiti-laden neon cargo pants, utility vests and classic logo emblazoned knitwear — marked the release of the American brand’s fourth collaboration with Hamilton.

A vegan and environmentalist, Hamilton addressed the collaboration’s steps towards sustainability and the challenges this has encompassed — including packaging and sourcing materials from vendors.

"From the development of the font of the logo down to the zippers and the buttons, he spent hours with the team," said Hilfiger.

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