Fashion Icon Ginny Hilfiger: “The best way to help your team thrive is through inclusion and positive reinforcement; it’s also important to be thankful, to be kind and to have fun!”

Alexandra Spirer
Jul 2, 2020 · 6 min read

I feel the best way to help our team thrive is through inclusion and positive reinforcement. I also think that it’s important to be thankful, to be kind and to have fun!

or my series on strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ginny Hilfiger.

Ginny Hilfiger began her career in fashion at a very young age. At seven years old, she often spent her free time at her brother Tommy’s fashion boutique, the People’s Place, in Elmira, New York. Ginny spent her days folding clothes, dressing mannequins, and shadowing her brothers and sisters who had paved the way before her. When it came time to choose a career path, Ginny’s passion for the fashion industry guided her next steps.

Enrolling in the Fashion Institute of Technology for Fashion Design, Ginny spent her summers assisting her brother at his new company, Tommy Hilfiger. In time, Ginny became EVP of Design for the Hilfiger brand, holding the position for over 15 years. Her most notable accomplishments during that time include the launch of Tommy Jeans in 1995 and the launch of Tommy Girl in 1997, which both became brand sensations around the globe.

Following her successes at Tommy, in 2012 Ginny accepted the position as Creative Director for FILA Global, with the vision of revamping FILA’s brand DNA worldwide. Once the revamp was complete, Ginny returned home as she headed the launch of the world-renowned Tommy x GiGi collection, another global phenomenon.

Eventually, this lifetime in fashion would lead Ginny to her current position as the Founder and Creative Director of the Messi Brand, a premium lifestyle apparel brand in collaboration with the world’s #1 soccer player, Lionel Messi. The brand, which launched in September 2019, has taken the industry by storm as they work to create a legacy in the fashion industry as big as Leo has on the pitch.

Thank you for joining us Ginny. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

life in fashion started at a very young age. When I was 7 years old my oldest brother Tommy Hilfiger started his first fashion boutique called “The People’s Place” in our home town Elmira, New York.

Since my mom worked full time, my brothers and sisters would babysit me at The People’s Place. I spent my weekends growing up folding jeans, dusting off makeup and helping customers.

When I was in junior high school Tommy sold “The People’s Place” and moved to New York City to design clothing. Tommy brought me to NYC in the summers and I worked in his showrooms and trailed his designers. I loved it so much that as soon as I could, I went to the Fashion Institute of Technology for Fashion Design. I worked all through design school as a design assistant and I have been designing ever since.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading the Messi store?

There are so many interesting things that I have experienced since we started building the Messi Brand it’s hard to pinpoint one. I would say working with Leo and his family; learning about Leo’s background and the sport of soccer, or as they would call it, futbol.

How did this specific collaboration come to fruition?

Creating the Messi Brand has been about a four year process. It began with my partner, Max’s love for soccer being from Argentina, just like Leo. Throughout my career I have designed lines for many celebrities and felt that this was a perfect fit to develop a lifestyle brand for the worlds #1 soccer player.

What is the inspiration behind the brand? What do you hope to accomplish?

The collection’s precise details and colors are inspired by Leo Messi’s story, the sport of soccer and his detailed way of playing the game. For example, striped tapings using colors from the Argentina national team and from Barcelona FC. We also use pentagon label pieces and patches, M bar tacks, bonded captain bands soccer field green stitching and luxurious casual breathable fabrics. The goal of the Messi Brand is to continue to establish it globally across all ages and genders.

Ginny Hilfiger

What do you think makes the Messi brand stand out from the rest?

The Messi Brand stands out from the rest through its luxurious fabrics, details and bold, clean and colorful graphics inspired by Leo’s story and the sport of soccer. The Messi Brand is a direct reflection of the qualities Leo Messi demonstrates on and off the pitch: we specialize in creating innovative, premium lifestyle clothing with high quality and precision detail in every stitch. We strive for excellence, precision, and humility in everything we do.

What is the next exciting project that the brand is currently planning?

There are a lot of exciting new things that The Messi Store is planning. One being our newly launched, gorgeous beach towels and bathrobes. This collection is special because we were able to use graphics that were especially important to Leo, such as the lion and castle which we call The Messi Dream Print. Next we will be launching new luxurious pieces for fall and holiday as well as accessories.

Ginny Hilfiger & Maria Sol Messi in Barcelona 2019

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

I feel the best way to help our team thrive is through inclusion and positive reinforcement. I also think that it’s important to be thankful, to be kind and to have fun!

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

I feel in managing a large team it’s important to delegate, and to not micromanage. It’s important to give your team the chance to grow while staying engaged and remaining abreast of what’s going on.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am grateful for my brother Tommy who has guided, encouraged and taught me my entire career. I’m also grateful for my boyfriend and partner Max, my daughter Audrey and all of my family and friends who have encouraged and supported me through every journey.

Ginny Hilfger, Leo Messi and Maria Sol Messi

Can you please share your “5 leadership lessons I learned from my experience”?

1. Be a good listener — I have always asked my team their thoughts and opinions and have learned a lot from them.

2. Trust your instincts — I have never checked anyone’s references but have always hired people that I am still life long friends with.

3. Balance — If someone is really great at their job don’t overload them. No one is able to juggle everything and in overloading them they are no longer able to focus on what they were originally so good at.

4. Delegate — give your team the freedom to do their jobs and rise to the occasion but don’t micromanage but still stay aware of everything that is going on.

5. Encouragement and positive reinforcement — It’s important to recognize when your employees are doing a good job.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite life lesson quotes are:

  • Trust your instincts — not only do I trust my instincts finding great people based on a feeling but also in designing my first idea is usually my best.
  • Keep calm and carry on!
  • Slow and steady wins the race — rushing causes mistakes. It’s always better to take your time and do things right which is why our clothing is timeless, great quality and always looks good.

Who do you hope to collaborate with in the future?

I have always been a big fan of Drake and I have always admired Mark Ronson

As far as collaborating with brands we are in talks with some but it is confidential at this point.

Where can our readers follow you?

On Instagram @ginnyhilfiger and @themessistore and on our website www.themessistore.com

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film…

Alexandra Spirer

Written by

I am an entrepreneur, publicist, journalist and event producer based in Sunny Florida. My passion is writing & giving back to others.

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Alexandra Spirer

Written by

I am an entrepreneur, publicist, journalist and event producer based in Sunny Florida. My passion is writing & giving back to others.

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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