Would You Pay Non-'90s Prices For Very '90s Clothes?

Photo: Courtesy of Zackery Michael/My Theresa.
On Wednesday, Tommy Hilfiger debuted a capsule collection on MyTheresa.com that looks uncannily familiar — and not because it's already been spotted on It Girls like Gigi Hadid and Suki Waterhouse. The new line is simply a reproduction of the Tommy you used to know — the logo-centric sporty gear everyone and their mothers wanted a piece of back then — at prices that aren't as much a throwback. (The re-edition items range from $198 to $654.) If you're a fan of cropped sweaters and football jerseys that will cost you, the line is available now. But if you consider yourself a pretty skilled thrifter, you've probably come across these same pieces before, in which case, like us, you're wondering if the fashion industry isn't just trolling us right now.

The hip-hop community is to thank for making '90s-era Tommy cool beyond its WASPy roots, but the brand's aesthetic has been more difficult to pin down in the decades since. And though there are signature elements that make it stand out among classic Americana — the red and blue, the wide stripes, the buffalo plaid — it's a stretch to say that its non-logo'd pieces are recognizable. This capsule collection, however, revives the streetwear period of the brand that was so influential, it's almost impossible to forget. But, is bringing back a sure-fire win (like, the exact win) the only way for a label that somehow lost its identity to be relevant again?

Remaking and reselling once-popular logo pieces is not a new strategy by any means. Most recently, Calvin Klein's collaboration with Opening Ceremony (and its offshoot with Urban Outfitters) brought back iconic looks from the same decade. The difference? The #MyCalvins line was offered at a fraction of the price of Tommy's redo. This made it easy for younger millennial consumers to buy multiple pieces, giving the brand a new life with a whole generation of buyers who weren't around to enjoy it the first time — a generation whose social-media tendencies meant major exposure for the brand. And the fact that it sold so well means that these collaborations are indeed profitable, so we can expect to keep seeing them crop up.
Photo: Courtesy of Zackery Michael/My Theresa.
"The point of this collaboration is to celebrate the credibility which [Hilfiger] generated in the ‘90s, which continues to resonate today amongst the next generation of Tommy fans," a press release for the collection states. "The flag logo was the starting point, and Aaliyah was the muse in the design process as she was such an iconic figure for the brand." In other words, the company's going all-in on this '90s thing, which begs the same question asked of all these nostalgia-driven business decisions: Is it worth paying inflated prices to make something old new again?

Let's not forget these items have been living on eBay for the past two decades. And if you don't believe us, you can get the originals here, here, and here — all for under $100. When we asked Buffalo Exchange's marketing director about millennial demand in regards to these types of collaborations, reality kicked in: "We’ve had a handful of customers ask specifically for '90s Tommy Hilfiger, '90s Polo and CK1 logo tees, however, the majority of our customers are asking for current pieces that emulate the styles from this era," Stephanie Lew explained.
Photo: Courtesy of Zackery Michael/My Theresa.
The fact that today's younger shoppers prefer modernity to heritage isn't a shocker, per se, but it's a peculiar observation that comes at a time when the numbers prove millennials are not "brand loyal," and are actually shopping less. But in a world where trends come and go at a faster rate than they used to, maybe newness alone is enough to convince young shoppers to forego a month's worth of lunches rather than seeking out the cheaper originals. Time — and the success of this Tommy line — will tell.

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