How Lewis Hamilton ushered in a fashion renaissance in Formula 1

Formula 1 is never just about sport. Since the early days of motorsport in the 1920s, racing motoring has been synonymous with luxury, style and elegance. Yet it was only later in the century that fashion companies began sponsoring Formula 1 teams. Benetton was one of the first brands to collaborate with Team Tyrell and Team Toleman in the 1980s, which, according to l’Officiel, resulted in now sought-after collections.

Formula 1 is more popular than ever in the US thanks to the Netflix docuseries, Drive to survivewhich has almost attracted 7 million viewers. It diversified the audience for F1, moving from a largely European, affluent and male viewership to women and Gen Zers taking an interest in the sport.

Lewis Hamilton was a clear model for this renewed interest in F1 through his love of fashion, but also through his use of social media and his interactions with celebrities. In 18 seasons he became the most titled driver of all time, with seven individual world championships, eight team titles with Mercedes and 103 Grand Prix victories.

Fashion brands deciding to sponsor F1 is therefore not that surprising. Luxury houses are taking inspiration from the sport for their collections such as Dior’s Fall/Winter 2022 and Chanel’s Cruise 2023, while Ferrari debuted a fashion line during Milan Fashion Week in June 2021.

The sport’s relationship with fashion has only grown stronger. According to a report from Karl Otto.

This success is largely due to Hamilton. Here are some examples of how he contributed to a fashion renaissance within the sport.

The driver showed a variety of hairstyles, jewelry and his love for tattoos since the beginning of his career. Just as NBA stars assert their identity through pre-match fashion, Hamilton quickly stood out as one of the few F1 drivers to showcase his sense of style. This despite old-fashioned views on luxury and what a racing driver should look like.

“When I was first exploring my style in my early years in the sport, it sometimes felt like I was the only one pushing those boundaries,” Hamilton said. Matters of fashion about the criticism he received from fans, commentators and even F1 owner Bernie Ecclestone. “There was a feeling that high fashion and high performance (in F1) could not coexist.”

“The pioneer of fashion in the paddock was clearly Lewis, who opened so many doors for the rest of us younger guys,” fellow F1 driver Pierre Gasly told the news channel. “Our sport is booming right now, which offers great opportunities to build relationships like I have with brands like Vuitton or Berluti.”

Although Tommy Hilfiger has been involved in F1 since the 1990s, Mercedes-AMG decided to enlist the brand as one of its main sponsors in 2018. This resulted in Hamilton designing five collections between 2018 and 2020, as well as a recent collaboration with Awake NY.

The collaboration allowed Hamilton to explore the world of fashion design. It also helped spark female interest in F1 through collections designed for both men and women.

“The increasing interest and involvement of women in F1 is exciting,” Hilfiger said Harper’s Bazaar. “It adds a new, fundamental dimension to motorsport. The engagement we see on our social channels proves that our consumers are interested, invested and engaged.”

Hamilton is the first and only black Formula 1 driver to date. In 2020, he used his public platform to shed light on the Black Lives Matter movement and injustices against people of color. He wore several T-shirts in support of Black Lives Matter and paid tribute to victims of police brutality such as Breonna Taylor. His attitude inspired other F1 drivers to wear ‘End Racism’ shirts and kneel next to him on track at the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix.

“When I saw what happened to George (Floyd), I knew the world was getting angry,” Hamilton said Road and rail. “For me it brought back a lot of pain that I had repressed as a child in England. It’s like being bullied at school. Walking down the street and getting jumped by a gang of kids. Being held back in class, being bullied on race tracks. So all these repressed things that I was using to direct my career came to light. And I realized that I want to use this platform.”

Hamilton invested more than $20 million in his foundation, Mission 44, to support youth from underrepresented backgrounds through education and employment. He said his fight against injustice has given him a purpose that goes far beyond the normal path.

Hamilton said his ex-girlfriend – possibly Nicole Scherzinger, whom he dated for seven years – is the one who introduced him to Hollywood. This was the starting point for his creative endeavors, including his love of fashion, he told GQ.

The driver is also known for his long-term relationship with Justin Bieber and often spends time with celebrities. As well as the glitz and glamour, it’s also a business opportunity for the driver, who is currently producing an upcoming F1 film starring Brad Pitt and Damson Idris.

The sport gradually began to attract public figures, who did not miss the opportunity to show off their outfits on the paddock.

“F1 is the new red carpet,” Ferrari-style creative director Rocco Lannone told Harper’s Bazaar. “We see Rihanna, Adam Driver, Naomi Campbell and many more requesting access to the Ferrari paddock and we recently dressed Alicia Keys in a custom Ferrari suit.”

As Hamilton continued his career, he began to think about how he would spend his time after retirement.

“I went through this phase where I realized I can’t race forever,” he said in a GQ interview, which pushed him to cultivate his passion. “Because when I stop, I drop the mic and I’m happy.”

He launched +44, his own clothing line, with limited edition drops and collaborations with artists like Takashi Murakami and Hajime Sorayama. Hamilton hopes to eventually house talent under his own company, which he wants to be like a diverse LVMH.

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