Photography by Evan Browning
Styling by Alicia Sereno
All Clothing Tommy Hilfiger
Lewis Hamilton knows his way around a racetrack. Having practiced the car-centric sport in some form since he was a young child, he has won the Formula One World Championship five times, earning him a reputation as one of the greatest drivers in history. While he is constantly on the road in more ways than one, he still manages to soak in the culture, show off new looks, and discuss topics he cares about, all with an audience of millions watching his every move.
With the fashion world taking notice of Hamilton’s sartorial sense, it's no wonder that he has developed a close creative relationship with Tommy Hilfiger, who has developed a penchant for reinventing his signature aesthetic through collaboration with high-profile figures of the moment like Gigi Hadid and Zendaya. The designer's releases with the driver have proved fruitful for the menswear sector with their cool yet classic style. As the pair are about to unveil their third collaboration, the reigning king of Formula One tells us that clothes with substance go way beyond fashion.
Unveiled at Milan Fashion Week last Monday, Season 3 of TOMMYXLEWIS molds together Hilfiger’s preppy American vibe with Hamilton’s contemporary streetwear style. The 34-year-old British driver, who travels all over the world for races, wanted to emphasize comfort in the design process, using materials that feel as good as they look. The latest season also focused heavily on sustainability, something that Hamilton, a vegan, cares deeply about. (He also sold his bright red private jet earlier this year because he felt it didn’t align with his stance on environmental issues).
The driver and the designer have collaborated to create a timeless sportswear collection, which they ultimately hope will bring people together. Below, Hamilton opened up to L'Officiel USA about collaboration, working with Hilfiger, and being patient.
Tell me a little bit about the inspiration behind your third collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger.
From the get-go, it was to incorporate my DNA with Tommy’s iconic brand DNA. We tried to be a bit edgy. I am very much into streetwear, so it was all about colliding our styles. From there, it continued to evolve. For our third collection, it was all about how people perceive it and interpret their pieces. It’s the same size as the collection we did for the first season, but we toned it down color-wise. Burgundy plays a large role and I really wanted to keep it edgy but elevated.
Was it hard to edit the collection down?
It was. Very, very hard. But, to be honest, the ones that didn’t make it into the collection I got to keep for myself. But, I’m the only one.
Can you tell me a little bit about the key themes with this collection?
The most important thing for me is the fact that I wanted to push sustainability. It wasn’t a huge focus for the brand at the time and I told them how it was so important to me. They found new vendors, and each year, it continues to advance. This collection is just over 45% using sustainable product and fabrics. I am pushing it constantly. The next one will be even more sustainable. The goal is to get it to 100% sustainable. If I do something, I want it to be impactful. Look at the shows – the first show was very diverse. The best thing about working with Tommy is that I have these ideas, and they really help bring them to life. They hear what I am saying and really run with it.
Are you shocked when people ask you how involved you are in this product?
I think because each time I partner with people, I want to get very involved. For me, I view it as an internship of sorts. To be standing alongside this icon, Tommy the man, is such a wild experience. It’s been a surreal experience. The opportunity to learn from his team is surreal. I never approach things like I know everything – because I don’t. I know what I like and what I don’t, and I certainly have opinions but, it’s beyond collaborative.
What have you learned about the art of design along the way?
This has been the biggest learning curve. I think in life, no matter what it is, we don’t put a lot of thought as to how ‘it came to be.' Like this chair I am sitting on – there were people involved, a creative process and so on. In my main job, I work with nearly 2000 people on my car. So, I have mad respect for the process. And, I’ve learned to be patient. In doing the collection, doing it 12 months ahead, how are you going to know what the trends are going to be a year from now? What people are going to want in the future. It’s an eye-opening experience. And right now, I’m already working on what’s next. You need to be in tune with culture and the world in order to get it right.
Do you have any favorite pieces from the collection?
There are so many. I love the tracksuit and the high top trainers that we’ve done. They are an evolution of what we did in the second collection. Bum bags and pouches are key to me – especially to hold my phone and my thin wallet. With the jackets, people think the ‘leather one’ is leather, but it’s faux. That was something that was important to me and if you put it on, you’ll realize how good it feels.
A lot of this collection is about ‘timeless fashion’ and travel. Can you tell me a little bit about this?
I am always on the road. So, being comfortable is the most important to me. I try to create timeless pieces. Tommy has an archive and for the first few collections, I raided the library to get a sense of the fabrics and logos and colors. It’s so interesting to see how their process has evolved as well.
Have you seen people on the street wear them?
At races, I see them a lot, but I am always so proud and grateful. It’s a conscious decision for someone to go out there and spend the money on a piece that I’ve made. That’s why I also want people to know that there is a sustainable perspective to what I do. It’s not just clothing; for me, it’s something more.
You’re a fabric guy. Do you have any favorite fabrics that you worked with?
For me, I am all about feel. I need to feel it in my hands or my fingers and get an understanding how it feels on my skin. I hate seams that rub on you, so ‘seamless seams’ are something I try to work on. The attention to detail to me is so important. For instance, I like to create tags that can be pulled off easily. My favorite fabrics are shearling, so I used faux shearling which I hope people really respond to. I also love working with corduroy. I found a vintage Tommy jacket and I knew I needed to do something in a similar vein. I also worked with a faux suede that feels so good.
You speak a lot about making unity possible – which is embedded in the collection. Do you hope this collection brings people together in a sense?
I hope people are excited about it. Naturally, fashion brings people together. People from different walks of life are united by clothing and their love of fashion and style. Look at a fashion show, for example, I am always looking at other people and wondering why they are there. My goal is to have a show for this collection either here in NYC, in Paris, or in Milan. I personally never thought I would have my own clothes. Never in a million years – it was always a dream. But to have my own clothes and really love them, it’s a dream come true.