The phrase "The '90s are back" has reached such high levels of tired and overused that I can't stop myself from eye-rolling about it even as I clasp on my velvet choker every other day. It's everywhere but I'm not over it. Partly because I lived it as a tiny child, but also because the more pop culture sinks its teeth into the revival, the harder it is to look away. The weird thing is, the one brand that was the BEST at nestling itself in the sweet spot between fashion and pop culture in the '90s is also the one brand that hasn't (yet) rolled out a throwback collection or campaign in earnest: Tommy Hilfiger.
Originally created as a heritage Americana brand, Tommy Hilfiger developed major through roads into rap and hip-hop in the '90s. In an interview for Steven Stoute's The Tanning of America documentary, Hilfiger explained that he would deliberately commute home through Harlem to witness first-hand the latest trends bubbling up in the neighborhood.
There's an argument to be made here about Hilfiger and his eponymous brand appropriating the styles of Harlem youth for personal gain, but the designer embraced hip-hop culture and gave back to it as best he could. He would use the trends he saw as jump-off points to design to -- for example, seeing the popularity of sagging pants, Hilfiger added logo-hawking waistbands to his boxers. He also often incorporated hip-hop icons like Aaliyah, Kidada Jones, Coolio, and Diddy into his campaigns and shows, further elevating hip-hop in the fashion landscape and helping pave the (literal and figurative) runway for Diddy's Sean John, Russell Simmons' Phat Farm, and Jay's Rocawear.
Tommy Hilfiger was a major part of the fabric of pop culture in the '90s, showing up on the backs of everyone from Britney Spears to Snoop Dogg to Leonardo Dicaprio, Destiny's Child, Rosie Perez, and Pauly Shore. And yet, Calvin Klein is the '90s brand getting the most throwback love. These days, it's impossible to open up Instagram or hop in a cab or take a stroll through your local Urban Outfitters without seeing Calvin Klein -- especially throwback #mycalvins underwear. The '90s leaning reboot benefitted immensely from the normcore movement and helped launch both Kendall Jenner and Justin Bieber to fashion legitimacy. Now it sits in the exact right balance of throwing back and looking forward.
DKNY had a good run at the throwback game with its Opening Ceremony archive collaboration, and most recently, Guess has had a successful '90s revival thanks to A$AP Rocky. But Tommy is still largely and conspicuously absent, a fact made even more perplexing when you consider that the brand is owned by Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation -- the very same company that owns Calvin Klein and was behind the #mycalvins campaign. If your brain is broken right now, you're not alone.
Those in-the-know about the enduring influence of Tommy Hilfiger are relegated to copping vintage threads wherever they (you know, or we *achem*) can find them, but it's not always easy. Even budding fashion icons like Kylie Jenner (perhaps thanks to Ian Connor) are on the hunt for '90s Tommy designs! All signs indicate that the time is ripe for a throwback collection for the brand. So, where is it?