Tommy Hilfiger: There will never be a point that we say 'OK, now we’re inclusive'

He made streetwear preppy and pioneered the celebrity fashion collaboration, but Tommy Hilfiger's latest project is rooted in his life as a parent.

Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive is now available in Australia.

Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive is now available in Australia.

On Thursday, the all-American apparel brand will launch Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive, a clothing collection designed to meet the needs of people living with a disability or chronic condition.

"My first-hand experience raising children with autism showed me what a struggle something as simple as getting dressed in the morning can be," says Hilfiger. "That has always been a big issue in our household."

The 69-year-old father of five says witnessing his children feel that they have to "dress differently" from their friends at school prompted him to act and start a conversation about making fashion more accessible.

Hilfiger previewed the range during New York Fashion Week last September, unveiling 10 adaptive styles at the Tommy Hilfiger X Zendaya showcase. The Adaptive line, already available in the US, will be rolling out across Australia, Japan and Europe this week.

Styles from the range are designed with subtle modifications including magnetic closures, easy-open necklines, wheelchair-friendly pieces and fits for prosthetics.

Tommy Hilfiger was inspired by his own experience as a father of children with special needs to launch an inclusive fashion line.

Tommy Hilfiger was inspired by his own experience as a father of children with special needs to launch an inclusive fashion line.

While Hilfiger is the first mainstream brand to release an end-to-end adaptive line, other brands including ASOS and Nike are turning their attention to the possibility.

"The fashion industry historically lacks diversity," says Hilfiger. "So many people feel excluded by what they see represented in fashion, which is unacceptable."

While inclusivity, like sustainability, has become a buzzword in fashion, forward-thinking brands understand the power of perception. But not just that, they also recognise the growth opportunities. According to Coherent Market Insights, the global market for adaptive clothing is expected to grow from $US278.9 billion ($388.16 billion) in 2017 to $US400 billion ($556.7 billion) by 2025.

"Whether it be in gender, body type, body needs, ethnicity or age, we have a responsibility as designers to create clothing that celebrates all consumers," says Hilfiger. "There will never be a point that we say, ‘OK, now we’re inclusive.’ It’s a continuously evolving definition, and a journey we will always be on."


In February, Hilfiger released his fourth collection with Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton during London Fashion Week. The gender-neutral line broke new ground with more than 75 per cent of styles in sustainable materials, including vegan suede and 100 per cent sustainably sourced cotton.

Hilfiger's goal for the company is to become 100 per cent sustainable by 2024 and, as with his Adaptive line, he believes other brands should lead by example.

"We need industry-wide partnership to make lasting, meaningful change. No one can do it alone," he says. "We are working hard to share our wealth of sustainable concepts, processes, and materials, and are encouraging total transparency about the industry’s processes."

Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive is now available online.

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