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NEW YORK — Many business people aim to be moguls, but Tommy Hilfiger is suiting up the talent that gets around them.
Tommy Hilfiger has signed a four-year sponsorship deal with the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team to outfit its 60-plus members and coaches on and off the slopes through the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.
And now that the company has landed the worldwide license and rights to use the U.S. Ski Team logo, its design staff is already at work on apparel and accessories for women, men and children. The replica and casual items will make their debut in stores for holiday 2003.
Skiers have already been hitting the bumps in the designer’s red, white and blue ski jackets, pants and turtlenecks. Silver medalist Joe Pack said during a phone interview Thursday: “The stuff is pretty stylie. It’s very durable, very functional and stays on when you’re pulling off a quadruple twisting triple backflip.”
The daredevils will also wear Tommy Hilfiger sportswear for interviews and USFST-related promotional events, said Celia Visconti, senior vice president of marketing. The company will serve as associate sponsor of three elite international competitions in North America, including the world championships at Deer Valley.
“While I’ve always admired the athletic ability in general, the extreme devotion, motivation and fearlessness exhibited by the men and women of the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team are particularly impressive,” Hilfiger said. “To me, they are the very embodiment of the all-American qualities this company represents.”
The fact that Hilfiger supported individual freestyle skiers like gold-medalist Eric Bergoust was a selling point with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, according to Ted Morris, the group’s vice president of corporate sales and marketing. Six brands were in the running for the deal, which was previously held by Phenix, a Japanese label.
Freestyle skiers are pitching in with the design process, wear-testing the high-performance pieces and phoning in and e-mailing their requests for attire with articulated knees and elbows, among other feedback. Jackets and pants are made of waterproof, breathable fabrics developed under the designer’s in-house Coldstop program. The athletes also train in their uniforms, said P.J. Reynolds, director of sports marketing for Tommy Hilfiger.