Andy Hilfiger On His New Fashion Line, Andrew Charles

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Despite all the prepster associations, Tommy and Andy Hilfiger have always been, and pretty much always will be, dyed-in-the-wool rock and rollers. Sure, there were the associations with Snoop Dogg, Aaliyah, and Andy’s fashion venture with J.Lo. But a perusal of AH’s iPod will probably turn up the likes of “Mississippi Queen”, “Honky Tonk Woman” and “Blitzkrieg Bop.”

So it’s hardly a surprise to find Andy launching his new namesake, decisively rocker-chic clothing line, Andrew Charles, with Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler as the creative consultant and public face of the brand, along with his daughter Chelsea Tyler. Hilfiger is also following the likes of Kinder Aggugini, Matthew Williamson, and Karl Lagerfeld in the succession of high profile names lured into Macy’s aggressive push towards a new level of fashion cred, with the retailer securing total exclusivity for Andrew Charles. We caught up with Andy Hilfiger as he was prepping for September’s big launch

When did you conceive of the idea for Andrew Charles? Well, Tommy and I put a company together called Star Branding, really to brand celebrities. But when we talked to the stores, nobody seemed that interested in celebrity brands anymore.

You think it was all just kind of burning out? Yeah, and the whole urban thing kinda peaked. So we decided to put our own lifestyle brand together to mix music and fashion, called Andrew Charles. But instead of doing a specific musician’s brand, we figured we’d just put an artist together with Andrew Charles for collaborations, and who better than someone we grew up on, like Steven Tyler?

And there really has been a disintegration of the generational divide in rock & roll, hasn’t there? I think it was Guitar Hero and Rock Band. The kids are playing those classic songs, and they love them.

Yeah, it used to be that you hated your parents’ music. But now they think it’s cool. Also, there are only certain musicians who can pull off the fashion thing believably. Steven has always been a respected fashion icon.

And pretty much inimitable. Yeah, the way he wears his leopards and his scarves. It’s all very ’70s, very gypsy, very boho. And that’s what our line is about. He’s collaborating on the design, and we’re even doing a Steven Tyler scarf line.

And what about Chelsea Tyler? We needed a girl to be in the ads as well. I saw this picture of Chelsea, Steven’s 22-year-old daughter, and I thought she was perfect. I called him up, he asked her, and she was really into it. When we got to the shoot, I brought all my archives, and it was really a lot of the same stuff Steven had in his closet.

Do you find that Steven still has that incredible enthusiasm? Oh my god, yes! We brought him a pair of snakeskin boots that belonged to either Brian Jones or Keith Richards, and he was so excited. He wore them on American Idol, and he’s wearing them in the ads.

What are some of your favorite pieces? I think there’s a jean that’s great, it’s kind of a bell, and it has silver buttons. I like the women’s leopard coat, and our black, tight stretch jeans are amazing.

Are you planning collaborations with other rock stars? Right now we’re focusing on Steven. It could really go on and on with him. But we’re also sponsoring the Ellie Goulding tour. And we manage an indie band called The Click Clack Boom. And Hired Killers, Michael H’s band, play at all of our events.

Do you now consider yourself a fashion designer? Well, I have a great and talented group of designers who are designing for us. I’m more like a creative director. Actually, I’m the producer!