Tommy Hilfiger

Narendra Modi is quite fashionable while Barack Obama dresses safe: Tommy Hilfiger

Tommy HilfigerHis style is as all-American as the red, blue and white palette that he’s made famous so   it’s a little surprising to see Tommy Hilfiger, the icon of preppy style, kitted out in an Indian bandi a denim version teamed with a white shirt and red trousers. But it’s appropriate since the bandi is having a fashion moment, courtesy Prime Minister Modi who has been sporting the pared down Nehru jacket in popsicle colours. The 62-year-old Hilfiger, who stopped over in Delhi this week, spoke about his love affair with Indian textiles that goes back over three decades…

You’ve introduced a Hilfiger bandi in denim and suede and a paisley shawl to mark your brand’s tenth anniversary in India. Tell us about your Indian connection.

The two garments show respect to the Indian design philosophy. I have been quite attached to India for a long time. My first visit was in 1979. During those early visits, my Indian partner and I would go to Chandni Chowk, buy fabric, put it in the back of a rickshaw and make garments the next day. Then I would take them in my suitcase and take them to Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue. I would come back and forth all the time.

Was the bandi inspired by Modi?

It’s an Indian classic. Now, all I need is a Nehru cap and dhoti (laughs). I already have many pairs of kurta-pyjamas.

Narendra Modi will meet President Obama during his US visit. What do you think of the two leaders’ sense of style?

Modi is quite fashionable, while Obama is very traditional and classic. He’s being safe but a man in his position would want to be safe because there is so much criticism about everything he does. If he became too fashionable people would throw stones. Michelle is more fashionable.

What do you think about the way Indian men dress?

They’re coming along. They look more put together than they ever have. And this may go against what I do for a living but I love traditional Indian clothing. I like women in saris and men in kurta-pyjamas. But the world is changing. Young Indian people want to be part of the global fashion scene. When I was coming here in the ’70s, you wouldn’t see one person in jeans. In the ’80s, there were a few but they were just coming back from London or New York. Now it’s a way of life.