Tommy Hilfiger Partners With Rafael Nadal For The THFLEX Rafael Nadal Edition Tailored Collection

Inspired by Rafa himself, the designs combine Tommy Hilfiger's signature sartorial aesthetic with performance fabrics for a modern collection with precision fit and functionality.

BY JANIE CAI | May 4, 2016 | Fashion

Tommy Hilfiger

He has an asteroid named after him. 128036 Rafaelnadal is the main belt asteroid that was discovered in 2003 by the Observatorio Astronómico de Mallorca. At only 17, Rafael Nadal was already immortalised in the stars.

Now 29, the tennis superstar is surprisingly grounded. Recognised as a passionate player, and yet, also a gentleman both on and off the courts, he is known by two nicknames, “Rafa” and “The King of Clay”, the latter referencing his almost-unbeatable prowess on the clay courts. Born in 1986 in Mallorca, Spain, he has ranked among the world’s top five tennis players since the year they named the asteroid after him. 

But recently, Nadal has been playing an entirely new field. The only person in the world to have won at least one Grand Slam tournament for 10 consecutive years, he now finds himself at the centre of another type of galaxy with his latest capsule collection with Tommy Hilfiger. The fashion world has seen him before though—he was the face of Armani jeans and underwear back in 2011—but this is the first time a global brand like Tommy Hilfiger has collaborated on such an extensive style project with the player. 

“Last year, we launched our partnership with Rafael Nadal with an amazing underwear and fragrance advertising campaign, and an incredible pop-up tennis event in New York City,” says designer Tommy Hilfiger. “This season, we’re continuing to innovate our Tommy Hilfiger Tailored collection with the THFLEX Rafael Nadal Edition capsule collection. Inspired by Rafa himself, the designs combine our signature sartorial aesthetic with performance fabrics—it’s all about modern movement with precision fit and functionality.”

As Principal Designer for Tommy Hilfiger the brand, Mr Hilfiger has been instrumental in developing the earlier TH Underwear lines with the Spaniard, with Nadal himself fronting the campaigns (your girlfriend will certainly appreciate the ads). Now, as the key inspiration behind the latest THFLEX Rafael Nadal Edition capsule collection, it is game, set and match for both sides for a collection of modern suiting and shirting styles.

Put together a talented, dedicated designer and a sportsman who plays to win, and it’s hard not to emerge with a winning combination. Nadal’s high expectations of his on-court apparel are just as demanding when he’s not in a game. And Tommy Hilfiger’s expertise in designing good-looking, wearable classics with just the right dash of American sportive cool has made him one of the biggest names in fashion, something he was bold enough to declare from the get-go with his now-famous inaugural billboard, done in collaboration with influential Esquire Art Director, George Lois. 

The collection is built around core pieces such as a double-breasted navy suit and a single-breasted suit in charcoal—the building blocks of a man’s wardrobe. Subtle design details include a bespoke lining inspired by the grid of a tennis net, along with a sporty grosgrain ribbon detail hidden beneath jacket collars. There is also a selection of six limited-edition shirt styles in classic blue patterns with slight collar variations. The patterns are subtle, and include micro-checks, stripes and solid finishes, and a specialty silk tie offering in Tommy Hilfiger’s signature navy, red and white palette with iconic multi-width diagonal stripes. The classic colours work for both business and casual, giving breadth to the needs of the modern male when it comes to style. 

And whether you are as active as Nadal or not, it doesn’t matter. The THFLEX Rafael Nadal Edition capsule collection is tailored with precision and constructed from innovative Italian-made fabrics that are designed for performance. The cloth has a strong stretch that guarantees a high level of comfort while maintaining a compact hand-feel. Improved crease-resistance keeps it wrinkle-free, even after hours of wear. A special finish helps to maintain the natural breathability of the fine wool, which supports temperature regulation. The last point is a definite plus for the men of Singapore, where the heat and the humidity make donning a suit a Herculean feat.

Nadal might have won 14 Grand Slam singles titles, but he’s also a guy who likes to look good without sweating it, something that all men can relate to. Hence, the suits are made to move with the body, and if you aren’t convinced yet, then you soon will be. The Tommy Hilfiger Tailored ad campaign features two Rafas facing off in a competitive, high-stakes tennis match while wearing THFLEX to better demonstrate the suits’ movability, versatility and comfort. 

In fact, Nadal’s first campaigns for Tommy Hilfiger underwear, Tommy Hilfiger Tailored and TH Bold fragrance were launched with a pop-up game of strip tennis in the heart of New York City that pitted the athlete against celebrities and top models. Each time a team scored a point, their opponents stripped off a piece of clothing, until the Tommy Hilfiger underwear designs for men and women were finally revealed. It was a brilliant stroke of marketing genius and, needless to say, Nadal won all three games.

No shrinking violet, the Spaniard’s passion for his game extends to his life off the courts. In 2007, he founded the Rafa Nadal Foundation to provide a better lifestyle for young people around the world and support marginalised youth who are at risk of exclusion from society. The Foundation combines educational and sports programmes to offer deprived children an opportunity to grow and develop respect, trust and integration. Philanthropy is a matter of mutual concern for Hilfiger. The Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation was launched in 1995 to give back on a global scale through educational and cultural programmes, such as the Fresh Air Fund, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project and the Millennium Promise initiative, which was established to eliminate extreme poverty in Africa. Nadal and Hilfiger share that rare combination of skill and foresight, passion and commitment, to succeed where many have failed. And with this carefully curated collection of high-quality pieces, the fruits of their labour are certainly showing.

From: Esquire Singapore's May 2016 issue.