Hugo Boss has tapped former One Direction singer Liam Payne to be the first brand ambassador for its younger-skewed label starting this summer.
As part of the deal, Payne, who is now a solo artist and songwriter, will work with brand and creative director Peter Deirowski to design a capsule and also be the face of its bodywear collection.
The U.K. singer will appear in campaigns for both the Hugo x Liam Payne capsule collection for fall 2019, and the bodywear campaign for cruise/resort 2020. The campaigns will be shot by fashion photographers Mert & Marcus.
Payne said the brand reached out to him after seeing him wear the collection to a few events and asked if he’d consider becoming an ambassador. He was initially surprised, but then flattered, and agreed to come on board.
Payne said he’s always enjoyed looking good and has recently begun paying more attention to the fashion world. “Fashion has slowly crept up on me,” he told WWD.
“I knew if I wanted to do something in fashion it should be with Hugo,” he added. “They design clothes that guys like me want to wear. Fashion started out as a hobby for me, but I’m loving being part of the creative process.”
The 25-year-old said he’s not intimidated with the thought of having to shed some clothes for the bodywear — read, underwear — part of the campaign and is pretty comfortable in his own skin. “This is a very body-conscious world,” he said. “I’ve been training a lot lately, but I’ve always done that, so we’ll see how it goes.”
What was new to him was working to create the capsule collection. That collection of ready-to-wear and accessories will be revealed in July during Berlin Fashion Week with a presentation and concert. The pieces will be available for sale immediately following the event.
“I thought, ‘How am I going to design clothes,’” Payne said. But Deirowski and his team brought him their initial ideas for the collection and asked for his input. For Payne, the process gelled once he actually saw sketches on paper and he worked with the team to “put my DNA into the pieces, and it slowly spiraled from there.” He said the capsule is “toned down,” which is reflective of his personal style that he described as “laid-back smart casual.”
Earlier in his career, he wore flashy, trendy pieces, but now, he’s comfortable in more-subdued looks.
And that’s fine with Deirowski. “Liam is not only a very talented musician, he’s also got great style,” he said. “This type of creative partnership is something we’ve never done before and we can’t wait to show everyone what we’ve been working on behind the scenes.” In the past, the brand has worked with Jared Leto and Zac Efron as ambassadors for its fragrances, but this is the first for the apparel.
“Hugo is not just about fashion, it’s about an idea: that being your authentic self is the boldest thing you can do,” Deirowski added. “That’s why Liam is the perfect fit for us — he’s authentic in everything he does.”
Payne said outside of his partnership with Hugo, he’s been working on some new music that he’s sharing on Instagram and some streaming sites. “And I’m dipping my toe into acting,” he said. He was among the finalists for Steven Spielberg’s remake of “West Side Story” but didn’t get the role, and has been auditioning for other parts, according to published reports.
Payne rose to fame as a member of the boy band One Direction, which released five albums and headlined four world tours. They started disbanding in 2015 and went their separate ways soon after.
He said he remains friends with the other members of the band — Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik — but they don’t keep in close touch anymore as each has moved on to other things.
He said he enjoyed his time in the group but is also happy to be flying solo. “They’re both great,” he said, “but for different reasons.” He said performing with a group, there was always a safety net. “If you messed up, you know you have your brothers around you to pick you up. There’s more pressure being solo, but it’s still great.”
And now he can concentrate on his Hugo project in addition to his music. “It’s so grateful that Hugo saw me in their stuff and reached out. I’m really enjoying this.”