The New York Life: Andy Hilfiger Rocks the Fashion World

To play rock ’n’ roll music…That was always Andy Hilfiger’s dream.

“My sister Susie had The Rolling Stones album, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction,” and I would stare at the album cover all day wishing I was one of them,” Hilfiger explains.

Oh, and if that name sounds familiar, it should! He is part of the famous Hilfiger family whose fashion brand exploded on the scene in the 1990s and has remained a household name ever since.

Today, the man behind many successful fashion brands, including one that carries his name, Andrew Charles, is, in fact, living his dream. “I changed course a bit when I went into fashion, but what I did was bring the rock ’n roll with me.”

BELLA NYC chatted with the talented Hilfiger to talk about his love for music and fashion, and why you’re more likely to find him performing on stage than hitting the golf course.

Why rock n’ roll? What captivated you about it?

I’m one of nine kids, and growing up our house had five bedrooms. In each room there was a different kind of rock ’n’ roll music playing. From Cat Stevens, to Carole King, to The Rolling Stones, I was exposed to a lot of great musicians. Those songs still play in my head today.

Your role with the company merged your love of music and fashion; exactly what did that entail?

I came aboard in 1991 and started dressing rappers for their videos and tours. You would turn on MTV and there was Mary J. Blige in one of our rugby shirts. I dressed everyone from performers like TLC, Wu-Tang Clan, LL Cool J, Snoop Dog. After I dressed Snoop for a performance on SNL, the stores completely sold out of rugby shirts the very next day. Tommy’s name being mentioned in songs was the best product placement that was never planned.

Toni Petri, Andy Hilfiger, Marky Ramone of The Ramones, Billy Hilfiger, and Richie Stotts

These days you’re working with multiple fashion brands, including your own line. What has that been like?

We launched Andrew Charles in 2011 with Steven Tyler as the face of the brand. The line is edgy, with a rock ’n roll vibe; he’s the perfect rock ’n roller and everyone knows him. My wife Kim is also my partner and the creative director, and recently we relaunched the brand overseas in Europe.

I’m also working with an artist named Greg Polisseni on a line called ARTISTIX. He had started a denim line in LA, moved it here to NY, and asked me to come aboard to put his art and fashion together. That was a year and a half ago, and we’ve been rocking ever since.

My latest project has been working with La La Anthony on her denim line, which is currently #1 in Lord & Taylor. I call myself her “fashion agent.” I get the buyers to see the line, and we make it happen.

You clearly have a talent for knowing what works; from where do you draw your inspiration?

I’m a collector of vintage clothing and I have the Andy Hilfiger archives, which is a barn full of clothing from all different eras. Whatever I’m doing, I pull old samples to get ideas. I put on my merchant hat and see what sold last year, and I redesign it. I take what’s good and make it better.

During the ’80s you rocked out at some of the biggest venues in New York City, toured all over the country, and have recorded a total of five albums. Are you still performing today?

Right now I have a band called Sway; we all live near each other in Larchmont, NY and play a couple of shows a year between NYC and upstate. We put out a record two years ago and I’ve recently started working on some new songs. When people my age say to me, “Let’s go golfing,” I’m thinking, “No, let’s go rock.”

On His Playlist

 

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