Fashion / Style

Sofia Prantera and Lee Holman on reimagining classic streetwear codes for their Tommy Jeans X Aries collaboration

Tommy Jeans X Aries

What does it take to make a streetwear icon? For a brand like Tommy Hilfiger, there were a few catalysts. It was Aaliyah in the 90s, a strong connection to the music industry since the early days, and a propensity for quality sportswear and denim with iconic branding. For a brand like Aries, one of the new guard's most promising and exciting streetwear labels, it's come down to quippy, recognisable slogans, a fluid approach to the binary, and a luxury outlook on streetwear

In late March of 2023, Tommy Jeans X Aries revealed that the two brands would come together, for what turned out to be a hugely successful collaboration. It's a 35 piece collection that spans menswear and womenswear and footwear, one that references Tommy Jeans' signature codes and archives, updated by Aries' founder and creative director, Sofia Prantera. The handcrafted and distressed techniques that are synonymous with the modern streetwear brand reimagine Tommy's most recognisable codes, playing with proportions and celebrating the decades-long legacy of the Tommy Jeans identity, while splicing it with Aries' discernibly contemporary approach.

"Tommy for me was the brand that dressed American hip hop, I was less interested in Tommy as a preppy brand, I love the way it was hacked and readapted to a new subculture and wanted to do the same." Prantera tells RUSSH.

In a campaign for the collection release, the brand taps photographer Angelo Pennetta to lens rapper GloRilla, grime artist Novelist, and Aries family 5EB, Brian Tshabola, Haajar Djouada, Kasper Kapica, Kirbs, Nathan Rosen and Xiao Wang to echo the sentiment, alongside a film by Prantera will be released to complement the campaign featuring an instrumental version of GloRilla’s ‘Unh Unh’ with special verses by Novelist, Kirbs and 5EB as the film smoothly flows with bold visuals that nod to moments in TOMMY JEANS’ hip-hop history.

It is a meeting of minds. Of old and new to pay homage to what has come before and to what is emerging as we witness the changes in the streetwear landscape.

Below, we chat with Prantera and Tommy Hilfiger's creative director, Lee Holman, on how the collaboration came about, the evolution of streetwear from Tommy Hilfiger's early days, and reimagining the Tommy silhouette.

Tell us about how the Aries X Tommy collaboration came about?

SP: I had met Lee Holman the creative director to discuss working together and we decided a collaboration would give the most interesting results.

LH: We reached out to Sofia to see if she would be open to being a consultant for the tommy jeans label. I was always a big fan of Sofia’s work from her early days of designing for Slam City Skates and for one of my favorite skate brand Silas in the late 90’s. It really felt a natural connection and Sofia’s passion for having fun and being inclusive.


You started the Aries brand in 2010/2011, can you talk a bit about how the brand has evolved in the past decade or so?

SP: Collaborating with Tommy allows us to broaden our reach. The clothes are very much a hybrid of both brands. It’s Aries hacking Tommy. Working with a brand like Tommy allows us not only to explore new styles but especially to produce a more extensive creative around the collection and work with amazing music talent like GloRilla.


Streetwear has certainly evolved during this time, too. What has been your biggest observation in how this landscape has changed?

SP: Tommy for me was the brand that dressed American hip hop, I was less interested in Tommy as a preppy brand, I love the way it was hacked and readapted to a new subculture and wanted to do the same.

LH: After our first call, we really felt Sofia has a similar design ethos to our Tommy jeans DNA, the clashing of different design codes together to create a modern expression of streetwear. There was a passion for Tommy 90’s Archive in Sailing, skate and workwear Denim. Sofia loved our prep heritage in sailing, but wanted to clash these codes through a punk sensibility. It was like we had created the samples in your own home, it needed to feel real and not precious.


Tommy Jeans X Aries

You worked on a film to support the launch of Aries X Tommy – what felt important for you to communicate through these visuals?

SP: I worked with an Italian film director called Dario Vigorito, who is one of my oldest friends, and he allows me to work on videos in a way that would be difficult to do in other circumstances. We have quite a punk approach to things, I think you get your best when you take some risks, and not everything is predetermined. I found that the Tommy Hilfiger team was very open to this process approach that we used and went with it. I didn’t want to make a fashion video, so we made a music video -as I think videos need content- which was associated with Tommy Hilfiger and with Aaliyah. So we sort of built a music video from scratch, GloRilla is performing on it and some young rappers and it is slightly ironic, it’s commercial in a way without being too commercial. The music is amazing and there is a reference to every single hip-hop music video with funny little takes on it.


A lot of the pieces in the collection feel very reminiscent of vintage Tommy Hilfiger, was it intentional to riff of this silhouette?

SP: There were 2 main points to creating the hack & upcycle of the product. First, Tommy’s iconic looks for Aaliyah were created by her stylist by readapting men’s underwear and jeans; at the time Tommy didn’t make womenswear and her stylist used the famous branded elastic underwear to make a bra and accessories for the shoot, so readapting and upcycling seemed like a very valid starting point. Second and possibly more importantly Tommy had just launched a deadstock website and this was made available to us to upcycle in larger scale, we had just done a collaboration with the magazine More or Less which specializes in recycled fashion and we had a blue print for how to readapt jeans and sweatshirts and wanted to apply this on a larger scale.

The collection is based on the idea of Aries hacking Tommy rather than blending of the 2 brands and taking actual Tommy pieces apart, printing them and remaking them into something more elaborate seemed like the most natural process to follow in this particular collaboration.

LH: We sent Sofia and her team samples from the Tommy Archives around our heritage in 90s sailing, skate sneakers and workwear denim, then Sofia started to clash these pieces with her Aries design and graphic codes. This is how the rawness of the printed artwork are overlayed on denim or sprayed stencils on beach slides or taking a logo rib waistband off a Tommy underwear and making a body con dress. It was very direct and Authentic approach to clashing our brands together.

Tell us about the decision to include GloRilla, Novelist, 5EB, Brian Tshabola, Haajar Djouada, Kasper Kapica, Kirbs, Nathan Rosen and Xiao Wang in the campaign, what are the brand connections to each of these talents?

LH: From the start of the collaboration, we wanted the product and casting to feel authentic to both brands and create diverse pieces that were genderless and inclusive.

I’m so excited we have GloRilla in the campaign, so my wish would be to have her create the soundtrack as she has the energy of the collaboration.

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