A year after it filed bankruptcy, Hartmarx Corp., now called HMX Group, is a changed company. The American men’s wear icon has foreign owners, jettisoned many underperforming brands, trimmed its operations and restaffed its executive suite.
It might have been saved from liquidation by Emerisque Brands and SKNL North America, which purchased the company out of bankruptcy for $128.4 million, but the new entity still has to confront questions that plagued the old Hartmarx for decades — like how its venerable tailored clothing brands will remain relevant in a competitive marketplace where suits are increasingly marginal.
The company’s first step appears to be freshening its image. That task will be in the hands of Joseph Abboud, who was named president and chief creative officer of HMX, where he’ll oversee all marketing and merchandising. His appointment marks a considerable change from the previous management at Hartmarx, which was more interested in manufacturing than marketing. But the new management seems keen on exploring how its brands are viewed in the marketplace and, to that end, it has tapped two agencies — Lipman and Quaker City — to create branding and advertising packages for Hickey Freeman and Hart Schaffner Marx, which should bow soon.