On The Record is Highsnobiety's off-the-cuff podcast series of intimate one on ones with icons and cultural engineers that have shaped and continue to shape the ever changing worlds of fashion, music, tech, art, business, sports and youth culture at large.
On The Record: Tommy Hilfiger
For almost 40 years, Tommy Hilfiger has changed how young people around the world dress. Pushing the boundaries of what a fashion business looks like commercially as a true global brand that just last year generated $4.7 billion dollars in revenue.
Business aside, the storied American brand reshaped what, and especially who, drove influence among youth culture. He was a pioneer in seeing musicians, especially hip hop artists, as powerful marketing vehicles that could culturally, and financially, create value for the business.
First it was Grand Puba from hip hop band Brand Nubian, who shouted out the brand in a song with Mary J. Blige. Then came the rest. Britney Spears, Lenny Kravitz, Aaliyah, Destiny’s Child, Snoop Dogg the list goes on.
Remember, this was at a time when fashion brands refused to work with hip hop artist, dismissing them as drivers of youth culture, and believing a too close association with predominantly black artists would be brand dilution. How times have changed for the better.
I called up Tommy who during our call early on in lockdown was on his boat. We discussed it all, from the early days of Destiny’s Child and Aaliyah wearing the brand to what make up the new foundations of a successful fashion business all these years later.
On The Record: Hector Bellerin
Spanish footballer player Hector Bellerin plays for both the Spanish national team and London footbal club Arsenal where he’s known for his attacking defense style of play. On the field, he’s known as one of the fastest players in the world, who just this month won his third FA Cup at Arsenal.
Off the field, there’s a completely different side to Bellerin. He’s incredibly vocal about environmental issues in his interviews, frequently attends fashion shows, just last year he walked Louis Vuitton’s men’s show, after being hand selected by its Virgil Abloh and he was instrumental in making LA streetwear brand 424 the exclusive off-field outfitter of Arsenal. His public persona is in stark contrast to what we’re often used to from football players. He drives an electric car, he strictly buys vintage, and in his free time is taking a fashion business course. He says that Hector Bellerin on the field needs to be balanced with Hector Bellrin off the field for when the day comes when he does retire. I wanted to dig deeper into this so I called him up at his new house in the English countryside.
On The Record: Lucas Zwirner
The art world is evolving, fast. What has long been considered one of the world’s most elitist societies, composed of high brow art dealers, collectors and artists, has slowly opened up. The digitization of art has not only changed the means in which art is experienced and sold, but it’s also evolved its aesthetic. Most of all, it’s democratized the playing field for a younger generation, one with its own curatorial taste and behaviors.
Lucas Zwirner is highly aware of this shift, and it’s been this shift he’s been navigating through as head of content at David Zwirner gallery in New York, arguably one of the world’s most prestigious galleries that represents artists including everyone from Jeff Koons and Barbara Kruger to Raymond Pettibon and Jordan Wolfson. In his role, Lucas leads and creates a unified brand voice and editorial vision for the gallery, its publishing house, and its online platforms, deepening the conversation around the gallery’s artists, exhibitions, and projects through books, podcasts, video, web content, public programming, strategic partnerships, and online sales. I called him up from his New York apartment where we broke down the many ways in which the art world is opening up, and if, it’s really becoming more democratic.
On The Record: Jonathan Anderson
As creative director of his London-based namesake fashion label JW Anderson, and at Spanish luxury leather goods house Loewe, Jonathan Anderson has been on the front lines of the European fashion scene for over a decade. And unlike many of his peers, he’s been able to innovatively adapt to the ever changing landscape of luxury while keeping an ear out to the desires of the young, yet highly influential, generation of fashion shoppers that dictate the market today.
Whether it’s sitting A$AP Rocky, Frank Ocean and photographer Tyler Mitchell front row at his Loewe shows and strategically launching youthful sub lines Paula’s Ibiza and Eye/LOEWE/Nature, to rethinking the entire show concept with his ‘shows in a box’ for both his brands and curating an entire art exhibition, Anderson continuously pushes the boundaries of what it means to be a creative director at a fashion house today.
On The Record: Sean Paul
There would be no mainstream dancehall as we know it today without Sean Paul. The Sean Paul who created chart toppers including ‘Get Busy’, ‘ Temperature’ and ‘Baby Boy’ with Beyonce. The Sean Paul, who has been nominated for 8 Grammy’s and won the award for Best Reggae Album with his legendary album ‘Dutty Rock’. And the Sean Paul who all of us continue to play at house parties and the club.
I wanted to hear a different side from him, and that we got. Today he still lives in Kingston, Jamaica where he’s from and it’s where I called him up to discuss everything from evolving your public image to mentorship for the next generation, and paying back to the culture that made him.
On The Record: John C Jay
What do Kanye West, Billie Eilish, Daniel Arsham, Hiroshi Fujiwara, Bobbito Garcia and Tom Sachs all have in common? Well, they’ve all been connected (either directly or indirectly) to the heads of large corporations by one man, John C Jay, who is currently the president of global creative at Uniqlo’s parent company Fast Retailing. Over almost two decades at his previous job, as global executive creative director and partner at legendary American advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy, Jay created some of Nike’s most iconic campaigns. Most of all, he’s spent almost forty years exploring what gives a brand meaning, its significance in communities, and especially what pushes it forward in culture.
I remember meeting him in London last year at one of Uniqlo’s events where we spoke about everything from retail and sustainability to pop culture and what makes good design. And then the time ran out. But we had a lot more to discuss, so I called him to continue where we left off.