Racing Stripes

Racing Stripes

Formula 1 superstar Lewis Hamilton enters the fashion race with a new, supercharged partnership with Tommy Hilfiger.

Formula 1 superstar Lewis Hamilton enters the fashion race with a new, supercharged partnership with Tommy Hilfiger.

Photography: Cameron McNee

Styling: Christian Stroble

Text: Jake Viswanath

This interview appears in the pages of VMAN40: The New Vanguard Issue, on newsstands now. Order your copy today at shop.vmagazine.com!

Lewis Hamilton was destined to be a racer. With over 60 Formula 1 race victories, four World Championship titles, and a record for the most career points of all time to his name, the driver is arguably one of the greatest of all time. He trained his whole life to master the sport, but another art has now caught his eye. “I never thought there would be anything that would match my love for racing and I’ve got- ten to that point where fashion is equally my biggest love.”

That newfound devotion is the product of Hamilton’s relationship with Tommy Hilfiger, which has grown from Fashion Week run-ins with the designer into a coveted job as men’s Global Brand Ambassador. Now, he’s taking on a more creative role, collaborating with the brand for his first clothing line, Tommy X Lewis, which meshes Tommy’s trademark preppy sportswear with his own high-brow street style.

Growing up, fashion admittedly wasn’t a priority for Hamilton, and for good reason. “All of the money went into racing and we didn’t have much money,” he remembers. “I was never out with friends. I had one goal at the time, which was to be the best racing driver in the world.” But it was the people he admired during childhood that helped him develop his own “urban chic” style and informed the collection. “I’ve grown up very heavily in influenced by music, so I remember watching MTV and seeing people like Aaliyah and Usher and some of these great artists that I admired wearing Tommy Hilfiger.” His distinct tattoos and lucky number 44 become design motifs on everything from luxe tracksuits to clashing patterned shirts.

Having this much involvement in the fashion world is a big step for Hamilton, who hopes that his path will help racers expand into other fields, something that he says Formula 1 frowned upon initially. “Ultimately, we’re all individuals and we all want to be able to express ourselves in our own way,” he explains. “When I started going to shows, every ex-world champion, boss, and the media slated me and said ‘he isn’t focused, he should be training,’ which I was doing. The only way I was able to break that mold is I’d do what I want to do, then I would arrive and win. They couldn’t say anything.”

But there are people who Hamilton hopes will say something. “Ultimately, being accepted as a fashion designer is now my goal. I admire so many people in the fashion world,” he says, recollecting an instance when new Louis Vuitton creative director Virgil Abloh expressed his excitement at seeing Hamilton’s debut show in September. “It would be awesome to, one day, get authentic appreciation by them, you know what I mean?”

SOUVENIR JACKET AND PANTS, FLAG SWEATSHIRT TOMMY X LEWIS
Credits: ALL COTHING, SHOES, AND ACCESORIES TOMMY X LEWIS, HAIR KELLY MENDIOLA, DIGITAL TECHNICIAN FREDRIK ROBITALILLE, PHOTO ASSISTANT WILLIAM COLE, LOCATION STUDIO GRIFFINTOWN, RACE IMAGERY MATT BARON

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Outer Armor: Jacob Hankin