It may not be warm in Los Angeles right now — think snow behind the Hollywood sign and record-setting frigid temperatures sending people reaching for their parkas and mittens — but Elizabeth Hilfiger has hot weather on her mind.
Last summer, when Los Angeles suffered through record-setting heat that topped 103 degrees Fahrenheit on Sept. 4, Hilfiger was sitting in her L.A. office, an industrial space in Boyle Heights with concrete floors, tall ceilings and a non-working air conditioner. Wouldn’t it be great, she thought, to have clothing that made you cooler during heat waves like this?
Heat is a hot topic for Hilfiger, who said she is very sensitive to warm temperatures. “I feel heat more than the average person,” she said. “I get hot really easily. When I was going to the Glastonbury Festival in England over the summer, I was searching for clothes to wear to help me if there was a heat wave.”
Her research led her to Techniche International, a company near San Diego that provides a wide range of clothing technology to cope with hot and cold weather. Hilfiger injected some of Techniche’s cooling technology into her spring collection with items lined with Techniche fabric. In addition, jackets come with removable patches in the back that, when soaked in water, can keep the wearer cool for up to four hours. Sweatpants and hoodies have mesh vents, and hats have panels for hyper-cooling properties.
The gender-fluid collection was on the runway last September in New York and seen by Fred Segal’s senior vice president of merchandise, Ashley Petrie, who approached Hilfiger about doing a pop-up at the storied retailer. “She really liked the show,” the Foo and Foo founder and designer said. “We talked about a possible collaboration, and here we are.”
Hilfiger launched Foo and Foo in early 2017, with much of her merchandise being carried by stores in Japan and South Korea. She’s had pop-up shops at the GR8 Tokyo, which is still carrying her merchandise, Galeries Lafayette Champs Elysées in Paris and Dover Street Market in Los Angeles.
She is incorporating a climate and sustainability message into the 1,400-square-foot pop-up space. To show the collection, there is a refrigerator with a glass door that allows you to see interior racks lined with Foo and Foo pieces. A tanning bed’s lower glass shelf has clothes neatly arranged on top.
Hilfiger, whose father, Tommy Hilfiger, launched his self-named brand in 1985, studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, and eventually knew she was going to do something in fashion, even if those sewing classes were really challenging.
She started out screen printing T-shirts and hoodies and moved on to her current art-meets-streetwear clothing line. The label’s name comes from her childhood likeness to the nursery rhyme character, Little Bunny Foo Foo, which gave her the family nickname of FooFoo.
Hilfiger and her three-person team work together to manufacture her line in Los Angeles. Last year, she hired Matt Newman as the company’s president, while she designs the collection with retail prices ranging from $55 to $325.
Asked if her father has given her any words of advice, she said he told her to remember what the American consumer likes and to lean into the fact she is an American designer. “He also told me,” she remembered, “to make sure the elasticity of my waist bands will stay and doesn’t wear out.”