NEW YORK — Ginny Hilfiger isn’t looking to follow in her brother’s footsteps — at least not completely.
“I like the idea of this being a small company,” Hilfiger said of her new line, called Ginny H., which will launch a full collection for spring retailing. “The clothes have to remain classic, but special, for stores that have real relationships with their customers.”
After working the last 15 years at Tommy Hilfiger, it’s no wonder she wants to run a small brand. Leaving her first job at Tweeds catalogue in 1990 to join Tommy, Hilfiger aided in the launch of Hilfiger divisions. She started Tommy Jeans, the women’s sportswear and junior lines, helped with several licensed divisions and departed this year after designing the H Hilfiger collection for Federated Department Stores.
“Tommy’s been very supportive of me, and I’m so grateful for my experience at Tommy Hilfiger,” she said. “I wouldn’t be able to do this without it.”
At Hilfiger, she said that continuous traveling, including months at a time in Asia, took her away from her family. Now she has time with her seven-year-old daughter, Audrey, and husband, Chris Mahl, who spent 20 years working in the technology industry, most recently at Oracle. Mahl left his position to help his wife start her company, which is based out of their Upper East Side apartment here.
“I worked to take a lot of companies from start-ups to grown-ups, so I really thought I could be a great business partner for Ginny,” Mahl said.
Hilfiger launched a small line, mostly made of shearling vests and blouses, for holiday retailing. Those pieces are sold at Scoop here and at Anastasia Holland in Amagansett, N.Y.
Mahl said he anticipates sales of the spring collection to increase, especially since it’s a larger line consisting of Swiss cotton blouses, dresses and pants, Belgian linen embroidered dresses, Japanese denim jeans and Italian leather jackets and coats. Hilfiger said she paid close attention to every detail, including a cotton-lined leather jacket, which is more comfortable than satin for spring weather. She has bra-friendly double-layered cotton tank tops, and all the pants are half-lined. Some jackets are trimmed with upholstery trims, normally seen on furniture.
“Chris’ mom works in the upholstery business, so we worked together on the trims,” Hilfiger said.
The line wholesales from $100 to $1,200. Mahl said he expects $2 million to $4 million in first-year sales and hopes to sell in 25 to 35 better specialty stores across the U.S. In addition, the company’s Web site, ginnyh.com, which also offers product for sale, is to launch today.
“The idea here is to have simple, comfortable clothes that women can put on and feel put together, but in that effortless way,” Hilfiger said. “I know that women today don’t have the time to think about what to put on in the morning. These are all simple, classic, elegant clothes so that women can sleep that extra half-hour in the morning, get up, dress and go.”