By  on January 29, 2008

WASHINGTON — With Tommy Hilfiger's classic Americana styling and hallmark red, white and blue touches, it's only fitting that the brand's new store here in the nation's capital practically wraps itself in Old Glory.

These aren't just any flags. They are vintage incarnations, each neatly displayed and echoing Hilfiger's familiar apparel tags.

The flags are one of the ways the store, which opened Jan. 18 at 3229 M Street NW, seeks to tie its colorful new sportswear offerings to an older sense of American tradition in the historic and trendy Georgetown neighborhood.

The product, however, is designed by the company in Europe and mirrors the fashions distributed to its stores there. Hilfiger goods sold to U.S. wholesale accounts are designed in the U.S.

As the brand's fifth standalone store Stateside, the shop is in the vanguard of Hilfiger's reintroduction to the higher end.

"Our strategy, which ties to our global retail strategy, is really to do select upscale streetscape stores," said Gary Sheinbaum, president of retail. "In the U.S., it is a reintroduction in terms of really looking to elevate the brand and the product."

The Hilfiger sportswear collection retails for $49.50 to $495, and pieces from the runway collection will be added at the end of next month.

In addition to flags, the store features eagle statuettes as well as posters from the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies, and a collection of vintage college T-shirts, which retail for as much as $150 and tie the 3,300-square-foot Hilfiger outpost to Georgetown University, located blocks away.

There are also a smattering of vintage accessories.

"We think that there's some really cool vintage product out there that just enhances the overall mix," Sheinbaum said. "It creates a bit of a surprise. It just adds a cool factor."

Washington's status as the center of government, as well as the stream of college students, Capitol Hill staffers and international visitors, plays to Hilfiger's strengths, Sheinbaum said.

The company plans to open "several stores a year," Sheinbaum said. Still on tap for 2008 is a unit planned for South Beach, Fla. "We don't have an amount of stores yet that we're thinking about,'' he added.The Georgetown unit is split evenly between men's and women's offerings and is designed to appeal to both sexes. The dark, heavy mantelpiece and bookshelf displays, for example, are offset by a midcentury crystal-style chandelier.

The store is intended to have a residential feel, enticing shoppers to hang out, said Trent Wisehart, senior vice president of creative services.

The eclectic mix of found objects, including a carved bench from a local antiques store, can be switched around and walls can be repainted to highlight new merchandise and keep the look fresh.

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