I've been in the fashion business for over 40 years. I've seen a lot during that time, and I can honestly say there's nothing quite like the buzz of New York Fashion Week. From final retouches on designs, fittings, castings and set design to the moment the first shoe hits the runway, you get the sense of the industry coming together. All eyes are on New York for the eight days of fashion shows.
We have a cross functional team dedicated to coordinating our runway shows; as soon as one season ends, we almost immediately begin planning the next. Creating a new collection begins with a brainstorm session where I share the season's inspiration with my team. We use 10-foot tall mood boards, key images tabbed in iconic books, and an assortment of fabric swatches. I'm inspired by everything around me -- music, art, pop culture, traveling, my family -- and always seek to recreate the classics with a fresh, modern twist. I find it very exciting to explore new ideas and work them into an overarching theme for a new collection. Over the years I've been inspired by everything from pop art to military prep to the surf lifestyle in California.
Once I find my creative inspiration, I meet with our design teams to review ideas. The design process is a collaborative effort, and that's what I love about it. We bounce ideas around as we visualize concepts with sketches and after countless drawings we begin to solidify the season's designs. Our Fall 2014 collection will channel The "New" England, fusing all-American prep with British heritage. It's a reinterpretation of outdoor gear for city life, with signature styles reimagined with a blend of tech and tradition. Iconic tweeds and tartans mix with sporty downs and nylons. The look is youthful and cool... the hiker girl is the new biker girl.
For months, we're also busy planning digital programs that support the show -- we have embraced digital and social media to help present our collection to our fans in the moment! For Spring 2014 we were the first brand globally to create a Social Concierge program that allowed guests at the show to request bespoke assets in real time -- ranging from photos of a favorite accessory to personal handwritten messages from our models backstage. For the first time, media and influencers had exclusive access to personalized images within minutes of requesting them. The results were amazing -- within a three hour period our #TommySpring14 hashtag had reached over 220 million people on Twitter and Instagram!
The Social Concierge program will return this season with a wider global perspective. We're inviting media who aren't able to attend the show -- and even fans on our own social channels -- to request custom imagery from the Social Concierge. We're also organizing the first ever runway show InstaMeet. A group of 20 local Instagrammers will be invited to meet at our show and share their unique photos, viewpoints and perspectives through the dedicated #NYFWInstaMeet hashtag. I'm excited about the opportunity to service the industry more efficiently through our digital programs and open up our show to even more fans and followers.
The real excitement begins about one week before the show as I watch the designs and details come to life. Our offices in Chelsea become our planning hub and headquarters, and we have seamstresses set up for last-minute alterations throughout model fittings. One of my favorite parts is selecting the music for the show. Our music embodies the spirit of the collection and adds the finishing touch that ties it all together. In the final days before the show, I have countless meetings to review all the final details: hair and makeup, casting, fitting and styling. It's a high energy, fast-paced environment and I love it.
Sunday will be a busy night completing the set design at The Park Avenue Armory. We always do a show-stopping set. Teamwork is so key in preparation and we have an amazing crew who help to bring every show together -- whether we're recreating Central Park or a California beach. And then, before you know it, it's show time!
I'm often asked about my fashion week superstitions, but I don't have many. Success is about hard work and staying passionate about what you do. I do have one good luck charm: having my family in the front row. There have been a lot of high points and exciting milestones over the years and I always look forward to what's coming up next. The best is to still come!