We chat with the F1 superstar about diversity, sustainability, and his new collection with Tommy Hilfiger.
Let’s be honest, the main-man of Formula 1 really needs no introduction. Nonetheless, it’s hard not to boast Lewis Hamilton’s 6 championship titles, 84 victories, and 151 podium finishes. As dedicated and immersed within racing Hamilton is, he brings this same level of devotion to his designs, and it’s clear he is a man of many talents. Having been catapulted into the fashion industry some years ago, he just launched his fourth collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger. The collection encapsulates both British and American fashion in an inclusive street-wear line, which is largely sustainable, made with everyone in mind and focused on unity within diversity. The collection is ready-to-wear lux, complete with the comfiest of staples, and enhanced to encapsulate that high-fashion moment Hilfiger represents. We had the pleasure of catching up with Hamilton (at De Bijenkorf’s pop-up shop of the collection) for a chat on sustainability, diversity, and the future of the industry.
It was great to see the show! You’ve been present in the fashion world for some time now, is all of this something that you’ve always been drawn to or something you’ve learned to appreciate over the time?
It’s something I’ve definitely always been drawn to, but once I was in my 20s I started to appreciate it a lot more. I believe everything in life is meant to be seen. At first, I’d go to these shows and felt that I never really fit in. In the fashion world, I was always kind of out of the ordinary. But when I went to shows, I saw all these people in different styles and really mixed in gender, and I was like: “Oh my god, I feel normal here.” Once I realised that fashion is a way to express myself, I really appreciated it.
Especially being backed by Tommy Hilfiger. That’s a big someone showing you that you belong!
Oh yeah! Tommy has been incredible. I really can’t tell you how grateful I am. He’s an icon. For him to have given me the opportunity to be able to do this has been amazing… Although, I don’t even think he knew how in-depth I would be!
Do you mean about how into fashion you were?
Yeah! I like to be involved in everything.
You can definitely see that within the correlation of your outspokenness on the climate crisis and the fact the line is 75% sustainable. How do you feel the fashion industry needs to adapt to the climate crisis?
I think all industries need to adapt. It’s something that I feel has been a little bit down on the order of priority for a lot of industries. Businesses will do some recycling or something like that, but it needs to be a top priority overall! We’re beginning to see the impact that it has on the world and I’m trying to highlight some of those issues, especially with things that I’m posting on my platform. I’m not trying to push it down people’s throats, but we definitely need to see some change. In the fashion industry, it’s crazy. I think it’s crazy that they will still use animal products sometimes…
Yeah… It’s disgusting to me that in this day and age we still do that! There’s no excuse to cause an animal pain when you can find a sustainable way of doing it. I was really inspired by Stella [McCartney] when it came to my line; she’s a sweetheart. In the first meeting with Tommy [Hilfiger] I said that I wanted my collection to be sustainable, and they were confused by this, but it’s what I really wanted.
Do you think the confusion comes from the fact that your focus on sustainability is something people don’t expect? Particularly if they just know you as the “race car driver”, as these two things don’t always go hand-in-hand.
For sure, that’s the conundrum I would say I’m in right now. If it wasn’t for racing, I wouldn’t have the opportunities to do the things I am doing for the climate; I wouldn’t have the platform. I’ve come to realise the broad awareness I’m able to bring because of racing. Ideally, however, I would like to be someone like Stella [McCartney], one of the real catalysts for sustainability within the industry.
You’re definitely on your way!
Some people are still like, “Why is it not 100% sustainable?”, though. We’re really having to push vendors, find the materials and find new ways of creating clothing. It’s a real mission!
I think what you’re doing is building a framework within the fashion industry for this narrative of sustainability and change. It is one, which hasn’t been seen enough within the industry so far…
Wow! Thank you! I’m trying.
Your collection, however, not only celebrates sustainability, but also diversity and unity. What does these concepts mean to you, and how important was it representing them within the collection?
For each collection I try to find a word that means something to me, something that can be at the front of what the collections are about as a whole. I love that the shows bring so many people together, and within the shows I feel a unity that is so meaningful. Unity and diversity goes beyond the collection as it’s going to take for us all to come together to bring down barriers of discrimintation… We’re all the same, whatever our beliefs are.
What relationship do you think diversity and fashion have to one another?
Fashion has the power to change perception. But at the same time, it is a slow process. Often you go to a show and still a lot of fashion houses are not supporting diversity. How are they missing that?
It’s like self-sabotage! Diversity is what the people want.
Exactly! That’s why you see diversity within my show. It’s something that I’m honestly so proud of. I want people to see themselves in my shows and think, “That would suit me.” We live in a world where sometimes if you don’t see it, you don’t think it’s possible.
You’ve certainly created a great relationship between diversity and fashion so far. What changes towards the cultural perspective of difference do you hope to see in the future?
I’m already encouraged to see the world shifting. The younger generation is the future and it’s so promising to see [what they’re doing], particularly in regards to seeing clothing becoming gender-neutral and seeing changes within gender standards.
I’s really nice to see the use of “gender-neutral” as opposed to “unisex” in your own line.
It’s inspiring to see an eclectic mix of people wearing the clothes in all kinds of different ways.