Tommy Hilfiger is partnering with Canadian singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes on a “Play It Forward” collaboration.
The 23-year-old Mendes will be the face of the summer 2022 global campaign, titled “Classics Reborn,” which features a collection made entirely of sustainable materials. In addition, throughout his upcoming “Wonder: The World Tour,” Mendes will wear more sustainable, custom-made Tommy Hilfiger styles, with the brand donating $1 million to efforts to mitigate and offset the environmental impact of the tour.
The partnership will culminate with a codesigned men’s capsule collection launching in spring 2023, which will reimagine classic pieces more sustainably through recycled and new material innovations and circular design practices.
“Shawn’s not only a multitalented musician — he also represents a new generation of Futuremakers who understand the need for action,” said Tommy Hilfiger. “By joining forces with Shawn to learn, share and innovate, we can build upon what we’ve already achieved and take our sustainability journey to the next level. While we recognize we still have a long way to go, together we can build even more awareness to make a positive, lasting impact.”
Mendes is a three-time Grammy nominated singer, songwriter and producer, known for hit songs such as “Stitches,” “Treat You Better,” Señorita,” and a new single, “When You’re Gone.” He is the third-youngest solo artist to achieve three consecutive number-one albums. In 2019, he launched The Shawn Mendes Foundation which seeks to inspire today’s youth to discover causes they’re passionate about while empowering them to change the world.
“I’ve known Tommy for a few years now and have tremendous respect for his work, so when I learned his vision for his brand of putting sustainable fashion to the forefront, it really aligned with my own goals and felt like the perfect opportunity to collaborate,” Mendes told WWD.
Slated to launch May 16, the “Classics Reborn” campaign was photographed by Craig McDean and features Mendes wearing styles from the 1985 Program collection, including the signature 1985 polo, which is made from organic cotton. Throughout the 1985 Program’s 2022 collections alone, the use of organic cotton reduces CO2eq by about 48 percent and avoids 692 tons of emissions — equivalent to 641 one-way flights from London to New York for one passenger. In the campaign, Mendes also wears more sustainable denim that is produced using 20 percent post-consumer recycled cotton and requires less water and energy during its finishing stages. The look is completed with curated vintage Tommy Hilfiger pieces that reference nostalgic favorites.
For his upcoming “Wonder: The World Tour,” Mendes has committed to making the tour climate positive, by reducing CO2 emissions by 50 percent per show compared to his last world tour in 2019, and mitigating all remaining emissions through a combination of carbon removal and carbon avoidance projects.
To support their shared mission and partnership, Hilfiger will donate $1 million to help make the tour’s Sustainability and Tour Greening Program possible. A substantial portion of this investment will be donated to regenerative cotton farming to continue to build upon Hilfiger’s wider sustainability initiatives. Throughout the tour, Mendes will also wear custom-made and more sustainable designs featuring looks made using liability fabrics and trimming, which are leftovers from past Tommy Hilfiger collections, as well as vintage deadstock fabrics.
For the tour, Mendes plans to reduce their environmental impact and emissions, as well as offset their carbon footprint, to become a full climate-positive tour. “We looked at everything from our merch practices to how we travel and where we stay, to the way we were putting on our show in order to find less impactful ways to play for my fans around the world,” said Mendes. The measures span merchandise, show production, freight, hotels, transport, plastic reduction, catering and food and fan travel. For example, Mendes plans to revamp the merchandising practices on tour, from sourcing materials to reducing shipping routes to point-of-sale, using green practices that reduce emissions and follow industry standards for sustainability. Their merchandise practices will include using organic cotton, limiting merchandise items, printing practices, increasing localization, eliminating single-use plastic, and using circularity and garment suppliers.
“My team and I have worked with climate scientists and youth activists to build out a plan that we can be proud of, and we have the full plan up on my tour site to share with my fans to learn more about what we’re doing. While every decision you make has an impact, we worked hard to make sure those decisions have a positive outcome,” said Mendes.
Hilfiger and Mendes’ codesigned capsule collection for spring 2023 will feature styles that reimagine classic Hilfiger pieces with circular design while scaling material recycling innovations.
“I’ve always been inspired by Tommy and the iconic brand he built, and I’m excited to share our journey together with my fans,” said Mendes. “Everyone has a role to play in creating a more sustainable future, and I’m inspired to see what we can achieve. I look forward to learning from each other, exploring how creative reimagination can have a positive effect on the fashion industry and sharing what living more sustainably means to me.”
Asked what inspires him and what he hopes to create with his codesigned capsule, Mendes said, “I’m inspired by truth, honesty and new ideas. I hope our collab inspires others to think of sustainability with everything they do, especially with the clothes they wear and the way they buy. Because the truth is we need to act together.”
Discussing how he got interested in sustainability and how this collaboration works with his mission to change the world, Mendes said, ” I have been really inspired by the work I have seen from incredible young people and changemakers around the world trying to make a positive impact on our planet. I am humbled to learn from them and other experts, and to do my small part to contribute to the mission. My hope is that we can all learn together and inspire others to do the same.”
In explaining why they decided to partner with Mendes, Avery Baker, president and chief brand officer of Tommy Hilfiger, said, “We’ve been on a sustainability journey at the company for awhile and we launched our new targets in September 2020, and the work started before that. We came to believe it was time to share that progress with our consumers, and time to start being more public about the progress we’re making and intend to make in the space.”
She said they’ve known Mendes for years, and he came with them to the Met Gala in 2018, as well as last week.
“We’ve always stayed in touch with Shawn and his team and he’s become increasingly passionate about the area and topic of sustainability. He was interested to partner with the brand where there would be real substance in the partnership,” said Baker.
Through conversations, they realized they had an opportunity to do a multiseason, multifaceted partnership “where our mutual goal is to make style more sustainable, and we can leverage the strength and the power of not only our brand platform and our apparel expertise, but also what he’s doing in his industry and the impact he’s creating with his fans and through the tour and the music industry,” said Baker.
She said Mendes is the face of the campaign and is the ambassador for one of their most important sustainable programs, the 1985 Program. It’s the company’s biggest essentials program and consists of the most iconic Tommy men’s pieces, specifically polos and oxford shirts that have all been reimagined with more sustainable materials. The overall program features styles made from both organic cotton and transition cotton. It was introduced to retailers about a year ago.
“What’s exciting is it’s probably the most important program of our iconic items that we have at scale at the company. Having Shawn be the face of this really indicates the intention and the ability that we’re going to have to do things more sustainably at scale across our most important categories,” said Baker.
Baker said the team and Mendes have done a lot of the design by Zoom and they had an in-person meeting with Mendes as well. She said it’s too soon to share what the looks will be. “All the styles will be anchored in modern classics,” she said. Everything is produced with circular design and in a sustainable manner. The label will feature Tommy Hilfiger’s name, along with Mendes’.
“This project for us is not just a collaboration that’s a product launch. When we’ve done those collections in the past, they’ve been really effective in driving brand heat, attracting new customers and driving traffic. We expect it to do all those things. We really look at it as a commitment to our sustainability journey and a kickoff for this chapter of sustainability for the brand,” said Baker. “That’s where we’re really excited to have a partner like Shawn who’s equally invested in this journey and his own journey. We believe that it’s incredibly important as we look to doing business in the future, and it’s also incredibly relevant for consumers today.”
The tour starts in North America this summer and goes throughout Europe the following summer.
There will be constant communications around the whole program, and Mendes will be an active participant. “He’s very personally engaged and involved in making sure we achieve the mutual objectives we’ve set out to achieve. Our teams are working really closely together and it’s been exciting to see the sharing of knowledge between the experts on his side who are advising him on the production of his tour and sharing experts with our internal team,” she said.
She said the products and partnership are in line with his style, which she said are more modern, understated classics produced in a sustainable, future-oriented way.
“Shawn has really strong appeal with Millennials and Gen Z across both males and females. We feel it’s a great opportunity for the appeal he has and the appeal that we have, and we found a sweet spot between the two,” said Baker.
Ads will run across social channels (You Tube, TikTok, Instagram and Pinterest), outdoor placements with sound and around music venues, windows, and store and consumer event activations. It is the first time that Hilfiger will be running audio ads on Spotify, both in the U.S. and European Union. It also has a paid and earned integrated media partnership with Hypebeast across regions.
“It’s on the scale of a global brand campaign,” she said. The 1985 Program collection will be globally distributed with key retail partners such as Galeries Lafayette, El Corte Ingles and Macy’s, as well as direct-to-consumer channels.
Hilfiger will begin showing retailers the Shawn Mendes capsule in July.
“Besides his passion for sustainability, what we’ve been really inspired about is what we would call a Futuremaker. We’re very oriented around connecting with Futuremakers. To us, a Futuremaker is someone who’s shaping culture and leading the next generation for change, and I think he is very focused on youth issues, mental health and sustainability and very focused with his own foundation on how he can inspire and empower the next generation,” said Baker. “For us, his personal passion and the role he’s playing in the space felt like a great match with the spirit and attitude of Tommy.”
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