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Romeo Hunte is Putting Inclusion in the Forefront of Fashion

Romeo Hunte has been making a name for himself in the fashion industry for years now. His brand, Romeo Hunte New York, has been recognized as one of the up-in-coming forces in fashion. As one of the few Black American designers in a largely white industry, he also recognizes the need for inclusion, in addition to style, in fashion. As such, he has partnered with fashion legend Tommy Hilfiger to help close some of the industry’s diversity gaps. We had the chance to speak with the designer about his fashion house, design aesthetic and work with Hilfiger.

How did you get your start in the fashion industry?

I was raised in Brooklyn, NY, and grew up surrounded by women whose creative approach to fashion inspired me from an early age. I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology, and in 2014 launched my eponymous brand Romeo Hunte New York while also working full time as a personal shopper in luxury retail and in editorial styling. Through my experience working in the industry, I believe I strike the perfect balance between creativity and practicality, which plays a primary role in each collection I design.

How would you describe the Romeo Hunte aesthetic?

Romeo Hunte clothes make bold statements and challenge the status quo through fashion.

When you are designing a collection, do you have a specific type of customer in mind?

I wanted this most recent collection specifically to be for everyone and that the capsule pieces were designed with a wide range of customers in mind. We also put a strong focus on genderless outerwear this season.

As a Black designer, do you feel any constraints on the type of clothing you are expected to design and produce?

As a Black designer, I have personally experienced the reality that your work can often be overlooked, or your voice unheard in what is already a tough industry. Therefore, I am committed to using my position to break barriers and create spaces for the next generation of Black creatives. Brands have an incredible platform, opportunity and responsibility to lead by example in order to amplify different voices and actively embrace everyone in the industry. That’s what Tommy Hilfiger’s People’s Place Program is doing for the BIPOC community, which is often unrepresented in these spaces. By giving underrepresented creatives and designers access to the Tommy Hilfiger platform, it is possible to reimagine the fashion industry and give everyone a seat at the table. It was important to both Tommy and I that representation and inclusivity extended beyond our cast and that the campaign was also developed and executed by BIPOC creatives.

How did your collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger come about?

I have been so grateful to work with Tommy Hilfiger who is such an iconic designer. He has also been a great mentor to me for over five years and this collaboration has been pivotal to my brand. It has not only provided an international platform for my designs but also an opportunity to share my voice as a designer. Established brands have an incredible opportunity and responsibility to lead by example when it comes to diversity and inclusion and Tommy has taken on this charge.

Can you tell us about the theme of the collection and what it was like working with Tommy and his team?

The collaboration brings together our two design worlds: Tommy’s signature Manhattan prep and my Brooklyn streetstyle. New York City was a big inspiration to us both and became a theme throughout the collection. For example, classic, preppy button-down shirts use Tommy’s heritage Ithaca stripe, reimagined in the colors of the New York City subway. Working together was a great, collaborative experience. We had a shared vision and wanted to push creative boundaries, which included deconstructing silhouettes, playing with proportions, and clashing fabrics.

What do you admire most about the Tommy Hilfiger brand?

I admire how Tommy never lost sight of his dream to build a global lifestyle brand. No matter how many times he got knocked down, he has always gotten back up and keeps moving forward. Tommy is truly resilient. I also find it so inspiring how Tommy always follows his intuition and believes in himself. From the very start, he has used his platform to spotlight and share the values that are important to him.

Do you have any other projects coming up that you can share with our readers?

We will be hosting a virtual livestream of the Romeo Hunte SS22 fashion show in the near future! Stay tuned for more details.

Check out the Style Issue.

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