Talking Shop with Tommy Hilfiger’s Lisa Di Napoli

We caught up with Lisa Di Napoli, vice president of children’s design for Tommy Hilfiger, recently at the annual the Fashion Institute of Technology’s awards for fashion design graduates.

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We caught up with Lisa Di Napoli, vice president of children’s design for Tommy Hilfiger, recently at the annual the Fashion Institute of Technology’s awards for fashion design graduates. Di Napoli, who served as one of the judges, shared a few thoughts on the winning childrenswear designer‘s work as well as her take on current market trends. Despite a retail landscape in great upheaval, the exec with 15-plus years of industry experience under her belt believes opportunities for innovation and growth still abound.

What did you love about winner Samantha Berger’s collection? Samantha used her personal experience and observations as inspiration. (Based on a trip she took to Japan.) That is the essence of being a designer—taking cues from the world around you. Beyond that, she had a clear vision, which she articulated and executed from start to finish. She took her whole project the extra mile by thinking through every detail—right down to the shoes to complete her outfits, which she made herself!

What advice did you have for her during the design process? Exaggerate the design details, but do not let it get too costume-y. Remember a kid has to wear this. It’s fashion, but you must keep the child in mind.

Samantha Berger’s sketch.

What’s one of the major issues facing graduating childrenswear designers? Sustainability is important for the whole fashion industry, but it’s a bigger challenge in childrenswear. It’s difficult to ask the customer to pay a higher price for sustainable clothing when a child’s entire wardrobe has to be constantly rebought every six months. My hope is there will be more innovation around post-consumer recycling. That we, as a society and industry, will find ways for unwanted garments to be turned back into raw materials and come up with easy, convenient ways to collect the clothing so less goes into the landfills.

How has Tommy Hilfiger adapted its collections to the needs of the market recently? Childrenswear has certainly become more trend- and status-inspired the last few years. It’s no longer just the “mini me” look for the 7-14 size range—it’s from baby all the way through to the older child. At Tommy, we have injected looks and ideas from the more youth-driven successes at the brand like Tommy Jeans and the collaborations with Gigi Hadid and Zendaya. 

What are some trends for Fall ’19 on your radar? The ’90s influence in a major way—oversized sweatshirts and outerwear, primary and hyper-bright color, metallic everything and everywhere. High-density and high-shine graphics will also be popular. Plush and high-pile fabric will continue as well as utility pockets and accessories. And because it’s childrenswear, soft and cozy is always a trend.

Berger and her winning design

What do you love about your role at Tommy Hilfiger? It’s powerful to have a great brand as your support. At Tommy, there’s a culture of openness. That openness is what leads to the adaptive clothing line we produce, and that’s what I’m most proud of—that our children’s designs have a wider reach. I’m so pleased to have been a part of the inception of Runway of Dreams at Tommy and thrilled that, as a brand, we continue to expand this category and inspire other companies to do so as well.

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