NEW YORK — Tommy Hilfiger wants a piece of the U.S. premium denim market. 

On Dec. 7 the company opened its first Hilfiger Denim store here in Soho, bringing to its home market a brand that had previously been sold exclusively overseas. This confirms a report in DNR on July 16.

Hilfiger Denim was originally launched in Europe in 2000 and is now sold in South America, Asia, Canada and the Middle East, both in the wholesale channel and more than 50 freestanding stores. The trend-conscious, youthful label is aimed at consumers 18 to 28 years old, compared with the 25- to 45-year-olds targeted by the flagship Tommy Hilfiger sportswear brand. 

Prices for Hilfiger Denim jeans range from $98 to $175 in the new store (with some limited-edition selvedge styles going up to $250), which is significantly higher than the $55 to $69 that jeans from the Tommy Hilfiger line generally sell for at Macy’s. There are no plans to wholesale Hilfiger Denim at Macy’s—which will become the exclusive retailer of Tommy Hilfiger sportswear next fall, as reported—because Hilfiger execs want to establish the premium jeans business here in a controlled way.

“Denim is not only a way of life in the world today, but it has great meaning behind it,” said Hilfiger in a statement. “It can be chic and sophisticated, it can be raw and rugged, it can be hip and trendy, as well as classic and cool. Hilfiger Denim represents all of that with a premium product for both men and women.” 

Located at 500 Broadway, in a prime location adjacent to Bloomingdale’s Soho, the new Hilfiger Denim store has 3,700 square feet of selling space on the ground level and a similar amount of storage space on a lower level. The store is jam-packed with merchandise and decorative items, and features a funky, ’70s Mod–inspired decor. Black lacquer mannequins, bubble chairs, Tom Dixon mirror balls, a custom-designed LED chandelier, vintage arcade games and a DJ booth help create a hip, stimulating environment with an interactive feel. Vintage concert posters line the walls and are for sale, while the dressing rooms feature foil walls that customers can engrave with their own messages and designs.

Between various fits and washes, customers can choose among 70 styles of denim for each gender. In addition, the store stocks Hilfiger Denim Western shirts, cricket sweaters, baseball polos and T-shirts, as well as licensed categories like footwear, eyewear, watches, hosiery and bags. The store is evenly split between men’s and women’s merchandise, and the company expects sales to likely fall along the same ratio, said Gary Sheinbaum, president of retail at Tommy Hilfiger. 

Sheinbaum added the store should post sales per square foot comparable to other specialty retailers in the area. According to Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of the retail sales and leasing division of Prudential Douglas Elliman, the space—which was previously a Mexx store—was leased for $1.6 million a year. Consolo was not involved in the deal but showed the space to other clients. 

In addition to the new Hilfiger Denim store, the company this spring will open Tommy Hilfiger sportswear units on Collins Avenue in Miami and on M Street in Georgetown. This will bring the company’s total full-price store count to six. There are also 152 Tommy Hilfiger outlet stores in the U.S.

Although Tommy Hilfiger shuttered its Tommy Jeans business in 2005, Hilfiger Denim is not meant to replace that young men’s department store business. “Hilfiger Denim is completely different. It’s much more sophisticated, more fashionable, a true premium offering,” said Sheinbaum. “Globally we compete with brands like Diesel, Replay and G-Star.”