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Tommy Hilfiger Heads for the Beach

Tommy Hilfiger is going on spring break, hitting three hot destinations with model searches, fashion shows and music by rap group The Clipse.

NEW YORK —?Tommy Hilfiger is going on spring break, too.

This story first appeared in the March 5, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Starting next Monday, the designer, who has a big high school and college following, will hit the three hot spring break destinations, staging model searches, fashion shows and music provided by rap group The Clipse.

Promoting its jeans and swimwear business, the company will take its “Tommy Jeans Presents Spring Break” bus to South Padre Island, Tex., next Monday and Tuesday; Panama City, Fla., March 13 and 14, and Key West, Fla., March 17 and 18.

“This is where the kids are and spring break is important to students, so this is a good way to reach a lot of them all at once, very efficiently,” said Peter Connolly, president of marketing at Tommy Hilfiger USA. “You’re reaching a far greater audience than just spring break. When they go back to school, those lucky enough to have gone to South Padre Island are the ones with the tan and the ones who were there, and they’ll want to talk about all the cool things that happened when they were away.”

That might just mean modeling in a Tommy Jeans fashion show, as there will be male and female model searches during the first day of each stop at all three locales, with the actual show taking place the second day — right on the beach. As Arista recording artists The Clipse perform live at each of the events, the lucky 30 or 40 chosen young people will strut down the runway wearing “denim, sexy sundresses, short shorts, tank tops, swimsuits and stuff that kids are wearing,” said Connolly. About 10 professional models will also be used at each of the shows.

While there’s no guarantee for a Tommy modeling contract, Connolly noted: “We’re always looking for new models for the campaigns, so somebody could get lucky out of this.”

Tommy is not the only designer to stake a claim on spring break. As reported, Calvin Klein is also hitting the beach starting next Monday with music, beach and nightclub activities through March 29 in Panama City Beach under the CK brand umbrella.

To promote the Tommy event, there will be radio announcements on local stations featuring The Clipse, who worked with Justin Timberlake on his new album for his debut single “Like I Love You,” as well as signs posted all over the beach and young people riding around in Jeeps spreading the word.

“Basically, we’re taking over the beach,” Connolly said. “They estimate that 500,000 kids go to South Padre for spring break and to Panama City, and Key West is supposed to be the new upcoming area. So the turnout I’m not worried about. We’re worried about getting swamped and controlling it. It’s going to be mobbed.”

Spring break is not a new territory for the youth-friendly Tommy Hilfiger. At last year’s spring break, the company staged a less-formalized model search and fashion show in Miami’s South Beach that attracted some 10,000 youth, Connolly said.

“We didn’t really promote it, so we wanted to do something much bigger and really go after spring break,” he said.