interview TommyxNadal

20 Questions w/ Hilfiger & Nadal


Illustration by Robert Risko

Twenty questions (rapid-fire style) with Tommy Hilfiger and Rafael Nadal, who talk everything from career highs and regrets (or the absence of) to good sportsmanship and classic style

what did you want to be when you grew up?

Tommy Hilfiger: When I was a teenager, I fell in love with the phenomenon of rock ‘n’ roll music, but I couldn’t play an instrument! I decided I could still look like a rock star, which inspired me to start designing clothes.

Rafael Nadal: Since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to do sports for a living. In the beginning, I played a lot of soccer, but in the end I chose tennis. I love sports in general … But tennis is my passion.
your work ethic …
TH: Tireless.
RN: Discipline, hard work, respect.
career highs …
TH: Celebrating the brand’s 30th anniversary this year with special events all over the world.
RN: Roland-Garros (the French Open), my first Wimbledon, the U.S. Open to close the Grand Slam victory, the Australian Open, the Davis Cup win …
On surmounting challenges …
RN: I think that to come back after an injury to the highest level of competition, that has been my greatest challenge.
TH: Consumers around the world always want something unexpected and exciting, and that’s what drives me. I love the challenge of reinterpreting my designs in new ways each season to keep the “prep look” modern and fresh.
any regrets?
TH: I try not to have regrets and to learn from every experience.
RN: I have always tried to avoid regrets. Could I have done differently some things in my career? Maybe. But that, I can’t change, so I don’t even think about it.
On the pursuit of excellence …
RN: Victory is about recognizing all the work that went into achieving your dream. Winning a trophy is always nice, but my personal satisfaction comes from reflecting on the passion, motivation, and determination that went into getting me there.
TH: I’m passionate about our products, and I love meeting and hearing from customers around the world. They really push me to continue to innovate.
On personal style …
TH: My rule of thumb is to strike a balance by sticking to the classics and playing with color, texture, and print to give them a modern update. On any given day, I keep it simple with jeans or chinos and a comfortable dress shirt.
RN: Off the court, I tend to stick to the classics, but I like to have fun with color and accessories. I’m from Spain, so colors are important for me.

what is the key to success?
TH: A strong work ethic.
RN: There are many elements, but I believe the keys are hard work, passion for what you do, talent, and discipline.
what do you wear for a night out?
RN: A Tommy Hilfiger Tailored suit, of course.
TH: A classic, navy blue blazer is my staple. It’s a look that can take you from office meetings to dinner out with friends or family.
this one’s for the fans; boxers or briefs?
TH: I will leave that one to Rafa. <laughs>
RN: Off the court, I wear Tommy Hilfiger trunks. 
Where is your happy place?
TH: Anywhere is happy with family.
RN: Mallorca, back at home, with family and friends. That’s when I am not competing.
your defining quality is … 
TH: Passion.
RN: Determination.
your inspiration is …
RN: I’m inspired, always, by my family—my parents, my sister, my girlfriend—and Mallorca.
TH: My wife, Dee, is my muse and, along with my children, my greatest love. I’ve always admired her amazing taste and style. Since I founded Tommy Hilfiger in 1985, my inspiration has always remained rooted in classic American style.
On being a good sport …
RN: I consider myself to be respectful, and I believe this is a main value for sports. Good sportsmanship goes beyond the game; it starts with respect, and it’s something I aim to instill with the tennis academy I am building in Mallorca, which will open in May 2016.
TH: Good sportsmanship means treating others with respect. I consider myself a pretty good sport, too.
What talent would you most like to have?
RN: To run faster.
TH: Musical talent, or artistic so I could follow my passion for contemporary art.
your alternate-universe profession is …
TH: A movie director.
RN: A soccer player.
words you live by …
TH: Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”
RN: Live for what you are and what you do.
On giving advice …
RN: Always stay focused.
TH: The possibilities are endless, so never be discouraged by a setback, no matter how big.
And receiving it …
TH: The best advice I was ever given was, “Stay true to yourself.”
RN: “Keep your ambitions high.”
What’s your motto?
TH: Never give up.
RN: Always give and try your best.

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