TOMMY RAISES FUNDS — AND POSSIBILITIES

Byline: Kristi Ellis

LOS ANGELES — Tommy Hilfiger came to town last week with a lot on his plate.
He was here to scout new store locations, shoot an ad campaign and orchestrate a fashion show as a key sponsor of the seventh annual Race to Erase MS.
Hilfiger, who is closing two enormous flagships — in Beverly Hills and London — said he is replacing those units with smaller specialty formats in areas of those cities that cater to “younger, hipper” crowds.
A more immediate concern, however, was a fashion show for the Race to Erase MS, which was held Friday at the Century Plaza Hotel. Hilfiger’s co-sponsors were Nancy Davis and VH1 president John Sykes.
Dustin Hoffman, Sylvester Stallone, Michael Clark Duncan, Jim Belushi, Natalie Cole, Angela Bassett, Dominique Swain and Bijou Phillips attended the fund-raiser, which enriched the coffers of the Nancy Davis Foundation for Multiple Sclerosis by about $2.5 million.
As celebrity models primped and pranced backstage, Hilfiger discussed his new, more disciplined business strategy.
He said he has a team looking to locate two stores — one focused on sportswear and one on denim — in such areas as Melrose Avenue and Sunset Plaza in Los Angeles, and in Santa Monica, Calif. The stores should each be about 10,000 square feet. Hilfiger’s flagship is 20,000 square feet.
“I want to be in an area where there is a lot of young traffic, and Rodeo Drive doesn’t give me that young traffic,” Hilfiger said. “It is touristy and it’s old.”
Hilfiger said his Rodeo Drive flagship, which opened in 1997, was just too big and expensive.
“I don’t want to run flagships at losses,” he said. “We built our business with logic and we don’t want to walk away from that logic.”
The company operates 100 outlet stores, 10 full-price stores and 25 international stores. It plans to open another 10 units this year, Hilfiger said.
Hilfiger also spent three days here on the shoot for his fall ad campaign for Tommy Girl, Tommy and Freedom, which is being shot by Mario Testino.
As the models slipped into Hilfiger’s spring 2000 collection, highlighted by red, white and blue rock ‘n’ roll western wear, Hilfiger, decked out in a signature pinstriped suit, waited for the music to begin.
“I’m not nervous tonight,” he said. “The press isn’t reviewing me.”