Tommy Hilfiger took time out from running his fashion empire Wednesday to critique clothing created by seniors in Rhode Island School of Design's apparel program.
In freewheeling five-minute conversations with each student, the famous designer offered feedback on everything from fabric choice and tailoring to wearability and marketing.
Hilfiger broke away from the crits to answer a few questions:
Q: What motivates you to take time out from your own projects to critique student work?
A: I enjoy the experience. I feel if I can use my expertise and experience to somehow help one out of one hundred, I'm doing something positive. If I can give them a little bit of advice from someone who is in the business, and I've been in the business for over 25 years, they may be able to have the benefit of knowing what happens to these clothes eventually. Because it's one thing to do an art project and another thing to do something that's commercially acceptable and viable.
Q: You gave feedback to this group of students earlier in the school year. Do the revised designs reflect your feedback?
A: Oh yeah. I've seen the work evolve and I have seen tremendous improvement. It's not easy doing what they do. We have professionals surrounding us in our business who do the pattern-making or the weaving or the knitting of the cloth, the fittings. They're doing it all.
Q: Do you find yourself giving students the same advice again and again?
A: Every crit is different, but one thing I do say over and over is think of the end use, the customer. Think of who is going to wear it and who is going to buy it and how complicated it will be to manufacture. Number two, never give up because if you can't do it one way there's always another way. If your idea is giving you trouble, go to another idea. There are many other ideas.
Interview has been condensed and edited.
RISD apparel students will present their finished collections at the school's annual fashion show, Collection, May 21 at Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Providence.