THE JEWELS IN TOMMY’S LINEUP

Byline: Wendy Hessen

NEW YORK — Though the company has been struggling through some tough times, the push never seems to slow in Tommy Hilfiger’s quest to broaden its megabrand’s reach.
The firm is about to launch its first collection of jewelry, which is expected to register $15 million to $20 million at retail from the launch. The line will start hitting stores in June and roll out to 400 to 500 doors through the end of this year, according to Patricia Stensrud, vice chairman and chief executive officer of Victoria & Co., which is producing the collection under license.
Stensrud said the line could reach retail sales of $100 million within five years. Though the launch is limited to Hilfiger stores and U.S. department stores for now, eventually the line will be rolled out to specialty jeans stores nationwide and internationally.
Capitalizing on Tommy’s signature prepster-meets-rocker sensibility, the far-reaching line offers something for just about all of his customers, whether it’s the tweens and teens scooping up the hot Tommy Girl or Freedom fragrances, more sophisticated women looking for casual jewelry to wear with jeans or the young guys — or “dudes” as Hilfiger likes to call them — looking to accessorize those corduroy suits and pony jeans.
“Whether you favor preppy classics, are more of a motorcycle babe or a fly girl, we’ve got it,” said Hilfiger during a walk-through of the line. “It’s really about casual classics; you can wear these things any way you want to.”
The firm’s new TH logo, as well as its signature red, white and blue flag and the Tommy Rocks biker motif all crop up in various renditions as parts of the line, but there are more subtle elements, as well.
A series of gold- or silverplated link necklaces and bracelets put a more relaxed spin on classic tailored jewelry. Traditional strands of pearls get nontraditional treatment by being strung on pale blue thread or mixed with faceted colored beads strung into the flag pattern on a multistrand pearl choker.
Another series features frosted, colored beads with clean, silverplated accents strung on stretch cord for bracelets. Basics like hoop earrings have tiny, removable flag drops, while intaglio earrings subtly tout the TH logo under blue glass.
For the hipper crowd, there are bracelets made from bike chains that have been threaded with colorful grosgrain ribbons, rings that connect to a wrist chain and dog tags for buddies — a pair of tags with a removable tag that can be swapped with a friend. For those rapper wannabes, there is even a huge cubic zirconia-studded cross on a thick chain.
Among the offerings for men are nameplate necklaces, a pair of American eagle cuff links, a money clip emblazoned with the Hilfiger flag, puka shell necklaces and even a sterling silver guitar clip. Those who aren’t quite ready for full piercing can opt for magnetic stud earrings.
Though a healthy part of the line, about 40 percent, will be reorderable, special items are expected to drive nearly 20 percent of the business, said Stensrud.
The men’s and women’s lines will be sold in their respective departments, but the junior line will likely get some double exposure at some stores, Stensrud pointed out. Average retail prices will be $19 in women’s and men’s merchandise and $15 in the junior line.
Unlike those lines, which have relatively traditional display cases and top-of-counter units, the junior line will be merchandised on an open-sell fixture that can easily be set up in either main-floor jewelry areas or in junior departments. The fixture will carry men’s, women’s and unisex items.
The unit’s imagery and graphics can easily be changed to coordinate with seasonal trends and monthly deliveries of new junior merchandise. Many of the products highlighted will be tied in with those seen on “Houseparty,” the Hilfiger-produced interactive program on the company’s Web site, Tommy.com.
That’s just the beginning of the marketing and product coordination, which will be an ongoing element of marketing jewelry and other accessories.
“One thing Hilfiger does really well is link all their products together at the store level, and we’re excited about tapping into that,” said Stensrud.
She said Hilfiger handbags being shipped to stores for late May deliveries — the same time as the first jewelry deliveries — will all carry a card insert letting consumers know about the jewelry. Around the same time, customers who make a jewelry purchase of $25 or more will get a free color makeover at the Tommy Hilfiger makeup counter.
On the advertising front, the jewelry line is already tied in with the company’s spring campaign. In addition, there will be a spread featuring jewelry in the July edition of InStyle and for fall, 19 spreads are planned to run featuring jewelry and accessories in a host of fashion and lifestyle magazines.
Victoria & Co. owns the Napier and Richelieu jewelry firms and also produces jewelry under license for Nine West and Givenchy.

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