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Tommy Hilfiger Goes Upmarket

Fall 2007 Fashion
Source: tommyhilfiger.com
Fall 2007 Fashion

Grace Kelly and Jackie O are the two women Tommy Hilfiger sent down the runway yesterday. The collection of trench coats, silk knit dresses, tuxedo shirts and sport jackets referenced a glamorous 1950s-era wardrobe. Hilfiger said that his goal is to stay all-American in the sensibilities of the clothing but sell that polished American sportswear to a global market.

Since Apax Partners purchased Tommy Hilfiger and took it private in 2006, much of the expansion of the brand has been via growth in Europe and Asia. In fact, Hilfiger told me that the goal is to continue opening stores overseas (they've more than 700) in markets where the brand didn't have exposure when it was public. China and India are two markets in which he's very interested in opening new doors.

Here at home, Macy's is a major retailer of Tommy Hilfiger apparel. Whether the new collection that includes more expensive fabrics (like silks and organzas) will find shelf space at mid-market Macys stores is another question. The Bloomingdales division seems more likely to carry pieces like the white silk faille bow back dress that ended the show.

I asked Tommy how he's tempering consumer trends right now with the growth in the high-end consumer category and the potential slowdown with the mass market. Hilfiger said that the company hasn't abandoned their core customer base in casual wear but in response to the consumer shift they've added a more expensive layer of clothing onto the collection. That more-upmarket line dominated the clothing on the runway...

Questions? Comments? retaildetail@cnbc.com

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