Since launching in 1985, the Tommy Hilfiger brand, named after its designer, has risen to international recognition. Celebrities such as Zendaya and Gigi Hadid have released collections with the brand and helped ensure its popularity over the last 35 years. But, while Tommy Hilfiger remains popular and recognized, its environmental sustainability efforts have largely gone unnoticed. Why is that, and how can it be changed?
Tommy Hilfiger has big ambitions.
As with many other large, globally recognized brands, Tommy Hilfiger launched a special campaign to celebrate and promote its sustainability efforts. The campaign is called Make It Possible, and it features goals like reducing negative environmental impacts, increasing positive environmental impacts, and "improving one million lives" in its value chain. Also included in the campaign are two bigger goals: Waste Nothing and Welcome All, both of which will be accomplished by 2030. The Welcome All goal focuses on social sustainability and creating an accepting and positive workplace for employees. The Waste Nothing goal addresses the brand's push to become more environmentally sustainable. The two strategies Tommy Hilfiger laid out to achieve its Waste Nothing goal are: create for circularity and make clothes that last for life. While the create for circularity strategy requires significant reorganization and investing, and results are not expected until 2025 at the earliest, the second strategy focused on prolonging the life of existing clothes has already launched in the form of Tommy for Life.
In order to waste nothing, Tommy Hilfiger launched "Tommy for Life."
Tommy for Life currently has almost 2,500 items for sale on the program's dedicated website. Almost every type of clothing, from puffy coats to denim jeans, are available in sizes ranging from XXS to 3XL and in both men's and women's styles. That's impressive considering only one of three Tommy for Life product lines have been released so far. Currently, clothes sold on the site are coming from the Refreshed line, which includes "renewed previously damaged pieces coming from [Tommy Hilfiger] stores and online operations." The next product line to be released is Remixed, "a new line of unique designs created with the materials from items that [Tommy Hilfiger] can't renew." Remixed will be coming to the Tommy for Life website in early 2021. The final line of clothing yet to be released is Reloved. That will consist of clothing coming from the Trade In Your Tommys program. At the moment, there is no timeline for when to expect the Reloved line, but the Trade In Your Tommys operation is accepting outwear, tops, bottoms, and bags for womenswear, meanswear, and kids clothing. Between the three lines, Refreshed, Remixed, and Reloved, the Tommy for Life program will help the brand take a big step towards achieving its Waste Nothing goal.
There are limitations to the program, though.
Repairing and reselling clothes coming from returns or faulty merchandise is easy. That's why the Refreshed line was the first to be launched. Tommy Hilfiger already has access and control of these clothes and doesn't need to worry about engaging previous customers. The Reloved line, on the other hand, depends entirely on shoppers taking the time to participate in the Trade In Your Tommys program. To entice those customers, Tommy Hilfiger is offering rewards in the form of a discount on future brand purchases for every item sent back. The rewards varying from five to 20 euros per item, and Tommy Hilfiger provides free shipping. That sounds like a great option for young or budget-conscious consumers; the issue is most of them probably don't know about the program. Tommy for Life is sold through a separate website, and finding out about it through the main Tommy Hilfiger site is nearly impossible unless you know what to look for. On the main website, Sustainable Styles, which are made from materials like organic cotton and recycled polyester, are available. However, those styles are different from the reworked and repaired outfits highlighted through the Tommy for Life site. The Sustainable Style clothes are also roughly 35% more expensive than Tommy for Life Refreshed clothes. Hiding the Tommy for Life collection makes financial success for a brand that is still trying to sell new clothes at full price, but it is also undermining Tommy Hilfiger's environmental sustainability efforts. Maybe the brand will be more eager to show off their Waste Nothing plan in the future.
Tommy Hilfiger has an impressive circularity operation brewing in the form of Tommy for Life. The one problem is that the internationally recognized brand is keeping it hidden from customers. By pushing the circularity program to a separate website and promoting new sustainable clothing instead, Tommy Hilfiger keeps a large portion of casual shoppers in the dark and possibly slows down the implementation of its environmental sustainability initiatives. This is an issue that is plaguing the fashion industry as a whole. How to sell circular clothing and still make a profit? Where do new clothes fit into the equation if consumers are buying old clothes instead? Those are tricky questions, and each brand will have to come up with answers that work best for them, but to begin formulating those answers a first step needs to be taken. Tommy Hilfiger needs to scream from the rooftops about its circularity efforts and encourage consumers to engage with them. Only then will the brand learn how its new clothing sales will be affected, and only then can solutions be brainstormed. In the meantime, nothing will change.