NEW YORK — Tommy Hilfiger's first store devoted exclusively to women's wear opens today at 375 Bleecker Street here on a tree-lined block between Perry Street and Charles Street.
The store is expected to do between $750 and $1,000 in sales per square foot, on par with sales trends in the neighborhood, said Gary Sheinbaum, president of retail.
In the last decade, Bleecker Street has become a sought-after address for retailers and brands such as Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren, Intermix, James Perse and Mulberry have opened there. "The neighborhood attracts people from all over the city as well as international tourists," said Sheinbaum.
Along with the Tommy Hilfiger runway collection, the 825-square-foot store features the best of Tommy Hilfiger sportswear and vintage apparel and accessories chosen to complement the designer's products.
Trent D. Wisehart, senior vice president of creative services, said the new store provides a platform for selling runway designs deemed too forward for wholesale accounts. "Before, products were done for the runway, but it was hard to find a place to sell them," he said. "Now, we have a place."
The Bleecker Street store is considered a lab for new products and ideas. "We're looking into opening more women's stores," Wisehart said. Dual-gender stores in Miami and the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington are in the works.
"We are open to anything that helps us continue to elevate the brand," Sheinbaum said. "We're looking at other great cities in the U.S. and we are selectively considering some 'A' malls."
Hilfiger has had mixed success with U.S. company-owned stores. In 2002, the company said it would close 37 of its 44 U.S. specialty doors and it hasn't opened a store in New York since 2001. The Bleecker Street unit is the designer's third full-priced one in the U.S.
While the store incorporates familiar Hilfiger, American symbols such as the eagle and trappings of the upper-crust lifestyle depicted in advertising ensure there's nothing standard issue about it.
"The theme was a jewelry box with clear, potent color," said Wisehart. "It has a little more of a quaint vibe."Wood floors are painted glossy black and walls are a shade of Benjamin Moore Regimental Blue. Two chandeliers acquired from an estate in Connecticut are dressed with black shades. Black lacquer shelves are attached to walls with aged brass chains. Below the shelves, aged brass rods hold the garments. Items hanging on Lucite hangers are vintage.
The most expensive Tommy Hilfiger item is a beaded dress from the runway show for $450. In the vintage area, there's a lace bolero for $175, and a navy blue silk jacket for $375.
Vintage posters decorate the walls, a stuffed peacock holds forth in one corner of the store and a dress form, painted red, displays watches and vintage charm bracelets. Another Benjamin Moore color, Safety Yellow, provides a bright pop of color on shutters, the fireplace mantle and two large lamp bases made from old wallpaper rollers, which were used to print wallpaper.
A door at the back of the store leads to a boxwood garden with chili pepper plants and yellow mums. Embedded into the patio are grave markers. One, for a Harold J. Lofthouse, is dated 1882 to 1946.
Worn wrought iron furniture anchors the 450-square-foot garden, which will be used for "manicures and Champagne while people shop," said Sheinbaum. "It's just another element to make the customer experience special."
"Each season we will re-create the environment," Wisehart said, explaining that everything from the wall color to the furniture could change. "We're trying hard to create a sense of discovery and surprise."
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