NEW YORK — In a move to stay ahead of the continually changing shopping preferences of digitally savvy North American consumers, Tommy Hilfiger has today closed his 22,000-square-foot global flagship at 681 Fifth Avenue, another loss to the famed Manhattan shopping street.
In addition, Hilfiger will close its store on Collins Avenue in Miami on April 28.
It’s been a tough time for Fifth Avenue, with stores ranging from Lord & Taylor to the Gap and Henri Bendel vacating the avenue. Ralph Lauren Corp. closed its Polo flagship at 711 Fifth Avenue in 2017, after three years in the location.
Hilfiger opened the four-level Fifth Avenue flagship to much fanfare in 2009, calling it “pinnacle moment” for the brand. The store, designed by Callison Architects and the Hilfiger creative team, was formerly occupied by Fortunoff and was originally designed by McKim, Mead and White.
The store was designed with Hilfiger’s traditional American iconography and presented in new and unexpected ways. At the opening, for example, the decor featured a blue Cadillac fender and a blue surf board, red Marshall amp, a white vintage Sixties television monitor and an old ice skate. A black patent leather sofa sat on an overdyed Persian run, and vintage clothing was interspersed with runway pieces. Rough hewn material such as unfinished wood tables contrasted with elegant Venini chandeliers. A curved floating staircase with a glass railing and fluorescent-lit steps also doubled as a viewing platform for revolving art exhibits.
The Fifth Avenue flagship and the 9,000-square-foot Miami store were the only two full-price Hilfiger stores in North America. The company has 200-plus outlets. The brand has more than 1,500 full-price stores globally, which includes owned and operated, franchise and distributor, licensee and concession models.
“In line with our strategic objective to further reach and engage with digitally savvy North American consumers, we will focus on next generation retail experiences and partnerships to stay ahead of today’s continuously changing shopping habits and preferences,” said Daniel Grieder, chief executive officer of Tommy Hilfiger Global and PVH Europe.
“This means we are reshaping our retail landscape in North America, closing the New York City Fifth Avenue Tommy Hilfiger store and the Tommy Hilfiger store on Collins Avenue in Miami, Fla. Leveraging our store-of-the-future concepts rolled out in the global retail landscape, going forward North America will be the lighthouse region to develop and test new modular, digitally infused retail concepts.
“We continue to invest in tommy.com and the ongoing expansion of strong wholesale distribution partners that keep consumers at the heart of our brand,” he added.
Sources said the new modular concepts will manifest themselves as pop-up stores, which have been successful for the brand.
Some 77 associates are impacted by the Fifth Avenue closing. The company said they will have the opportunity to interview at metro-area company stores and relocate. Some 12 associates will be affected by the Miami closing.
This month, the New York flagship sponsored a three-week pop-up event to acknowledge the Tommy x Zendaya spring 2019 collection. It featured custom activations and interactive experiences for consumers, tying in with the collection’s Seventies theme and power of the zodiac. Among the activations were arcade game stations, a custom photo booth and Snapchat filter, and in-person fortune readings with Tarot guides.
Hilfiger declined to reveal details about the Fifth Avenue lease and cost savings involved. The lease terms will be disclosed when PVH releases its quarterly figures on Wednesday.
Despite the store closings, Hilfiger’s business continues to be on a strong trajectory. For the third quarter, Hilfiger remained PVH’s key strength as the brand continued a robust performance. In the third quarter of fiscal 2018, Hilfiger’s revenues rose 11 percent to $1.1 billion. International revenues were up 16 percent, and the brand showed strength across all regions, product lines and channels of distribution. In addition, Hilfiger’s North American business experienced 3 percent revenue growth.
For the current fiscal year, Hilfiger’s revenues are anticipated to increase about 10 percent.
The company has witnessed strong growth due to its collaborations, initially with Gigi Hadid, and more recently with Zendaya. Its see-now-buy-now global fashion shows — held in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Milan, and Paris — have brought the brand tremendous momentum and changed the way the company interfaces with its consumer. These shows have garnered billions of social media impressions, increased traffic to the brand’s web site and resulted in double-digit sales growth.
Brick-and-mortar continues to go through rough times. In recent months, several big brands have revealed plans to shutter scores of brick-and-mortar stores. As reported earlier this month, Abercrombie & Fitch said it would close up to 40 stores this year, while also opening that many or more new locations. The Gap plans to shutter 230 Gap stores, Victoria’s Secret is closing 52 doors, and J.C. Penney will close 28 locations. Chico’s FAS Inc. plan to close 100 Chico’s, 90 White House|Black Market and 60 Soma stores over the next three years.
When Hilfiger originally opened the Fifth Avenue flagship, between 49th and 50th Streets, the company said it wasn’t looking for that particular location — it was looking at lower Fifth Avenue — and this particular size. But as the brand reorganization progressed, the company became more courageous and gained more confidence to be in a prime Fifth Avenue location. The store was intended to be a real anchor presence for the brand, and was signed with the intention of being for the “long run.” Back in 2009, it was estimated that the flagship would do $1,000 a square foot in sales, or about $22 million a year.
As reported, Calvin Klein, another PVH brand, will close its 18,000-square-foot, three-level flagship store Madison Avenue this spring.