Tommy Hilfiger Is That You?

What are your first thoughts about Tommy Hilfiger? If you are like me, then you think of red, white, and blue, 90’s fashion, iconic red/blue stripe on denim, etc. But have you taken a look at Tommy lately?

Tommy Hilfiger Campaign Ad at Galeries Lafayette in Paris
Tommy Hilfiger Campaign AW13 Ad at Galeries Lafayette in Paris

Tommy Hilfiger has moved away from the American red, white, and blue, and moved ‘across the pond’, to produce styles that are more reminiscent of a British aesthetic. This “Harry Potteresque” style marks no resemblance to the previous Spring/Summer 2013 collection. Their recent campaign has reintroduced the Rugby shirt as a fashion item, combined with other collegiate colors to produce a collection that is both overly layered and unrecognizable to the brand origin. The brand needs to make more consistent use of its iconic colors to establish greater continuity and cohesiveness. At the moment, it is hard to identify what constitutes a classic Tommy Hilfiger piece. It is also difficult to identify points of differentiation against major competitors. Ralph Lauren – perhaps Tommy’s most well established direct competitor has the signature piece, the “Polo Shirt”. It is crucial for a global brand such as Tommy Hilfiger to create a signature piece that is seen throughout every collection. This will bring brand recognition to the fashion label and is a way for the consumer to makean association with the brand. It is also a walking advertisement.

Naomi Campbell and Claudia Schiffer | Tommy Hilfiger BHI Bag
Naomi Campbell and Claudia Schiffer | Tommy Hilfiger BHI Bag

Tommy Hilfiger is currently selling limited edition BHI handbags, with all proceeds going to breast cancer research; Naomi Campbell and Claudia Schiffer are the spokeswomen. The brand is positioning this item as their current signature piece. However, we believe that a handbag is not definitive of a luxury sportswear label. In addition, it will not achieve enough longevity, and does not have a distinct enough aesthetic to be considered a signature item.

Tommy Hilfiger AW13 Campaign
Tommy Hilfiger AW13 Campaign

Although it can be extremely difficult to create a signature piece that could compete with the Polo shirt from Ralph Lauren, it is possible and will take time. The signature piece will need to target a large segment of the brand’s market and evolve subtly season after season. Therefore some pieces to take into consideration would be a t-shirt, knitwear, or jeans.  Since the market is saturated with these pieces, the brand must differentiate the piece. For example, using fine cotton and innovative technology, or create the extremely light fitting jean. As far as the T-shirt, one possibility would be to incorporate a design with in the logo as Kenzo has successfully done over the past two years with their tiger and now, the evil eye.

90's Trends Cycling Back in the 2010's
90’s Trends Cycling Back in the 2010’s

Tommy Hilfiger achieved its highest level of popularity in the 1990s. Current trends have brought back styles from this era, and this is the perfect time for the brand to rejuvenate its image. Recreating ‘90s style pieces such as denim overalls and oversized t-shirts would be a clever move, as part of a collaboration with High Street stores. These large, popular, and accessible purchase points operate to generate brand awareness, particularly within a youth demographic – which Tommy very much appears to be currently targeting. Other luxury brands such as Isabel Marant, Margiela, and Stella McCartney have done this with great success.

Finally, Scott Schuman, who epitomizes the polished all-American aesthetic, could help bridge the gap between current street style/media trends, and a house that is attempting to stay relevant. Collaborating with Scott Schumann on a Tommy Hilfiger street style fashion film, which appears across both Tommy and ‘The Sartorialist’ web pages and other media, would be an interesting proposition.

If Tommy Hilfiger were to implement any of these ideas for Spring 2015 the brand would have a better chance of re-entering for public consciousness, and achieving a longer term success.

*Collaborative report from Symonne T, Elissa DLP, and myself 🙂
*Campaign pictures from TommyHilfiger.com
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