Consumers are Hot for Hilfiger

By Paddy Kamen

No One Embodies Hip American Classic Designs Like Tommy Hilfiger

Designer_HilfigerTommy Hilfiger is a natural entrepreneur, beginning his retail career in 1969 with just $150 and 20 pairs of bell-bottom jeans. After opening a small chain of stores called People’s Place, Hilfiger began designing clothes. He had a knack for creating garments that people wanted, but couldn’t find elsewhere. In 1979 he moved to New York City to pursue his fashion career in earnest, introducing his first signature collection in 1985. It’s been a strong upward trajectory ever since, with product offerings that include apparel for men, women and children, jewelry and watches, along with licensed fragrance products and home collections.

From his initial stores in New York and Beverly Hills, the Tommy Hilfiger name now represents a global entity with sales of more than $2 billion, 982 signature locations and over 7,000 stores that carry his products worldwide. As one of the leading American designers, Hilfiger has won numerous awards, including “Designer of the Year” from Parsons, “Menswear Designer of the Year” from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and several FiFi Awards from the Fragrance Foundation.

In 2003, Hilfiger stepped down as the chairman of his company, retaining the title of honorary chairman and principal designer. The firm was taken over by Apax Partners in 2006 and sold again to Phillips-Van Heusen in 2010, the year that marked the brand’s 25th anniversary.

This fall, Sàfilo Group will debut the Tommy Hilfiger Eyewear Collection. Their expert designers have created a classic, modern collection that reflects the Tommy aesthetic. Jade Sanscartier, spokesperson for Sàfilo Canada, says the collection is geared to the brand-conscious, under-40 suburban and small-town shopper. While this is a unisex collection that will appeal to many young women, the offering is somewhat stronger for men.

“Tommy Hilfiger is very much part of the North American fashion mindset,” says Sanscartier. “Those who are drawn to it appreciate style at an affordable price. The collection is understated and yet unmistakably Hilfiger, with subtle embellishments like placards, logos and colours that will be recognized by aficionados of the brand. The fact that we see Hilfiger products like apparel and fragrances every day enhances its appeal.”

Tommy Hilfiger sunwear features understated but visible logos in contemporary plastics and metals. A wide range of aviator shapes is available in metal or acetate, including modern metal looks, metal shields, oversized acetates and smaller, sporty acetates. The small aviator in metal, with a metal plate on the temple, is both elegant and sporty, sophisticated for any age. Plastic temples in interesting laminates stand out.

The Rx collection is distinguished by strong personality, combining a preppy flair with vintage feel. Geeky oversized frames continue to appeal to the youth market and Tommy Hilfiger is on trend with plastics and metals in Rx models. “They epitomize American cool, mainstream enough to appeal to the fashion-conscious shopper, and leaning toward the conservative side of the trend,” notes Sanscartier. “The titanium frame is amazingly light, while looking substantial. With the Hilfiger logo etched right through the temple and an interesting front that speaks of design, it presents an edgy, sporty look.”

Both sun and Rx collections feature playful colours including red, pink, white and blue.

There’s little doubt that consumers are still hot for Hilfiger, a designer who has a keen instinct for trends, both current and anticipated. And the eyewear collections, distributed by Sàfilo, capitalize on Hilfiger’s savvy and a brand with undisputed recognition.