Lewis Hamilton On Creating Vegan Kicks With Tommy Hilfiger + How Changing His Diet Fueled His Career

Fresh off his Harlem extravaganza with Zendaya last week in New York, Tommy Hilfiger hit Milan tonight for another big collaboration moment. The designer and British racing champ Lewis Hamilton are celebrating their third see-now, buy-now collection at a packed late-night affair.

Earlier today, Hamilton — the five-time Formula One World champion — talked about the new vegan shoe collection of sneakers, boots and hikers that he crafted with Hilfiger for fall ’19. “With the trainers, for example, it was a serious process to make sure the quality was right,” Hamilton said, noting that it can be tricky to get consumers to embrace faux leather or suede.

For Hamilton personally, adopting a vegan diet has been a game changer in every aspect of his life. “I’ve always been a real lover of animals, but I was never really aware of what was happening. When I opened my eyes and saw it, I was terrified and I wanted to be part of the change, part of the solution,” he said. “I’ve been on a vegan diet for the past two years, and everything in my life has changed. Looking at my career, the last two years have been the most successful. That’s no coincidence.” (Hamilton has actively encouraged his millions of Instagram followers to rethink leather and has also recently invested in meat-free burger purveyor Honest Burgers.)

Hilfiger, too, has stepped up his own sustainability efforts within his main collection — and Hamilton pushed him to go even further with the streetwear-centric collaboration styles. “We didn’t have all the vendors, so we had to go out and find them. I said, ‘Great, let’s do the research,'” Hamilton recalled. “Each time, we have more sustainable products involved, and the quality gets better. Hopefully other people see what we’re doing.”

The racer, who grew up with an affinity for Hilfiger styles, said that juggling his full-time career and design responsibilities can be challenging at times. “I don’t know any other [champion] athlete who’s doing it,” he said, “except maybe Serena Williams who’s the greatest tennis player and also a mom.”

But he doesn’t have plans to switch gears and make designing a full-time gig.

“I feel like I’m your intern,” Hamilton told Hilfiger. The designer laughed and responded, “I would rather say I adopted you as my stepson.”

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