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Tommy Hilfiger Makes Inclusivity Fashionable

By Victor Gee

There’s something about Tommy Hilfiger’s brand universe that has always made it seem friendly, approachable and accessible to a wider public. But with the Tommy Adaptive line, the American clothing apparel label brought inclusivity to a whole new level.

In a very simulating session entitled Making the Fashion Industry Inclusive - One Innovation at a Time during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2019, Gary Sheinbaum the Chief Executive Officer for Tommy Hilfiger Americas, Lauren 'Lolo' Spencer, a disability actress/public speaker, and the legally blind-born director James Rath, all sat down to discuss how adaptive fashion should be in fashion.

In 2017 Tommy Hilfiger decided to cater clothes to people with disabilities and manufacture garments that can be easily worn. The collection and campaign were a huge success and generated more than 1 billion impressions on online and social media with a very high customer engagement rate.

So why was this innovation in fashion so important? And how was the process like?
C.E.O. Gary Sheinbaum explained that 1 in 5 people have a disability yet most of the mainstream brands haven’t adapted their clothing yet. Tommy Hilfiger hence took on the responsibility of leading this movement.

Adaptive clothing makes life easier, it helps not only people with a disability but also their caregivers. Inclusive design is a better design even to people with no disability, which explains why the products are crossing over to a wider public. According to Sheinbaum, the key for the creative process was co-creation. Most of the innovation that gave people convenience and dignity started from the community that tested everything from the magnetic closures, easy zipping to constructing in unconventional ways.

Every element like customer service needed to have an element of inclusivity; the design, the marketing and even the packaging. But most importantly, the brand made sure to not design new styles: “Our mission is to try to keep the product similar, the styles are the same as we have in the regular lines, it’s just more adaptive… The community needs to be normalized and not segregated,” explained the C.E.O.

James Rath, who directed the campaign, wanted to bring together real and authentic stories that needed to be told. “Nothing about us without us” was his take on involving the community.

As a client, Lolo Spencer shared her positive experience with the new fashion line. She explained that being able to dress independently is life changing since dressing up is a very intimate act, and not everyone is comfortable having someone else do the process. She encouraged and called on other fashion brands to jump on the bandwagon and make life easier to clients with special needs.

Click here to watch the Tommy Adaptive campaign.