Tommy Hilfiger’s Preppy Pop Up and His Secrets to Prep Style

Kerry Pieri
Tommy Hilfiger’s Preppy Pop Up and His Secrets to Prep Style
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Nestled next to the giant beacon of all things trendy and modern, the Hotel Gansevoort in NYCs Meatpacking District, sits an anomalous, white washed wood-shuttered home that appears to have been transplanted sci-fi style from East Hampton, Nantucket or Newport. To say that everyone who walked into it out of the drizzling rain this morning wanted to move in would not be hyperbolic. It was a charming entry into the prepped out world of Tommy Hilfiger, a pop up shop aptly called Prep World a universe of madras, button downs, blue blazers, ribbon belts, colorful decoys, vintage tennis rackets and backgammon.

Following a celebration of his 25th anniversary last year, Hilfiger got a bit philosophical on all things prep and opted to dedicate an entire initiative to it in the form of the aforementioned traveling beach house that worships at the alter of classic American style. So what does prep mean to him now? “Well it’s changed, because early on when I did preppy I wanted to do American, classic preppy. Then, it became global, so I wanted it to be, I would say, wearable, aspirational, and affordable. So, nautical, outdoorsy, dressed up or dressed down, colorful, and unique.” That global influence isn’t just figurative. The dream vaca home will be stopping off in London, Milan, Madrid, Paris and beyond.

So what does a style so inherently American mean to the world at large? Hilfiger explains the affectations prep takes on in different parts of the world, saying, “In Madrid, all the guys wear red pants. And they wear crisp prep. Here, it’s a little more rumpled. In London, it’s a little bit more Old World where they wear preppy with maybe Barbour or wellies, in Tokyo it’s very bright, in Italy it’s very chic, in France it’s a little more dressed up and a little more glamorous and polished.”

Getting back to something more local, what does a girl need to do to get in on the style now? “Well she needs madras for the summer, and she needs nautical. She needs nautical stripes or seersucker,” the designer explains, “and then you’ve got it going on.”

In the spirit of all things prep, Lisa Birnbach, author of The Official Preppy Handbook and True Prep: It’s a Whole New Old World, was also on hand to lend some expertise. “The way to wear it is to make it your own,” Birnbach explains, “You know, it’s like there’s a rule in True Prep: Don’t wear a Harvard sweatshirt unless you went to Harvard, your spouse went to Harvard, or your children presently go to Harvard. Because you know what? It’s only going to invite uncomfortable questions.”

“There’s just a joie de vivre about it,” the author continues, “I think the clothes are happy, the way we integrate color is happy, maybe even juvenile. Which is good because we like to infantilize ourselves, we like to vacation with our parents til’ we’re very old.” If anyone’s parents second home is as charming as this pop-up, that statement is especially valid.

Prep World is open to the public May 5-8. Prices range from $40 for a tank to $298 for a men’s blazer. Click through for the pics.

All photos courtesy of Getty Images/Jamie McCarthy, Dimitrios Kambouris, Theo Wargo