The designer is a native of Mississippi, where his love of sewing and design was nurtured by his grandmother, a master quilter. “I always dreamed of moving to New York to be a fashion designer,” he says. “I didn’t know how I’d get there, or when, but I had a subway map pinned to my wall. Before I was 13, I knew the city by heart.”
In 1997 Hollis moved to NYC and began his career in the fashion industry by attending Fashion Institute of Technology.
Wherever his career led, Hollis never lost sight of his goal to head his own business. In fact, he launched his own eveningwear line when he was just two years out of college. Unfortunately, time wasn’t on his side then: “I opened the showroom on September 10, 2001,” he says. “Like just about everything else in New York it all came to a screeching halt the next day.”
Over a decade ago, Hollis’s dream of launching his own company was reborn. “My aim is to make a product that is specifically targeted to the Hilton Hollis customer and to give her clothes that she can integrate into her wardrobe and wear happily for years,” he says. The line has the contemporary feel, classic fit, and technical virtuosity that are hallmarks of the Hilton Hollis style. Every collection features flawless tailoring, luscious imported fabrics—many of which Hollis designs himself—and they transcend the off-the-rack niche with exceptional attention to detail.
Hollis brings a matching passion to the business side of the industry. “It’s not enough just to imagine beautiful clothes,” he says. “It’s my job to produce the right garment for the right customer at the right price.” That dual commitment to craftsmanship and price is working, as Hollis recently expanded his business into Europe by opening a new company in Portugal, where he resides part-time.
Hilton has served as a guest lecturer at FIT, Auburn University and countless museums. He remains committed to his alma mater and to the development of young talent.