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Key Dates: Tommy Hilfiger`s first company, People`s Place, declares bankruptcy. Mohan Murjani contacts Hilfiger to design a clothing line for his firm. The Tommy Hilfiger clothing line debuts. Retail sales of the line reach $70 million. Tommy Hilfiger Co. Inc. is established. The company goes public. The women`s line debuts at over 400 major department store shops. Hilfiger launches its bed and bath line; the firm acquires its Canadian licensees and a portion of Pepe Jeans USA for $1.15 billion. Sales and net income falter. Company History: Tommy Hilfiger Corporation markets menswear, womenswear, and childrenswear designed by Tommy Hilfiger. Hilfiger sells a complete line of clothing from socks to shirts, swimwear, jackets, pants, belts, wallets and ties, as well as sleepwear, golf clothes, eyewear, cosmetics, bedding, and home furnishings. The company operates 15 specialty stores, ten Tommy Jeans stores, a Tommy Hilfiger Children`s store, and a dual concept store. Hilfiger also operates 102 company outlet stores that offer branded products as well as out-of-season merchandise. Tommy Hilfiger products, which bear the well known red, white, and blue logo, can also be found in department stores and are marketed in over 55 countries across the globe. Origins Though the company was not incorporated until 1992, its history properly begins with the fortunes of its namesake, Thomas Jacob (Tommy) Hilfiger. Born in Elmira, New York, in 1951, Hilfiger started his first clothing business while still in high school. He and two friends invested $300 in used blue jeans and sold them out of an Elmira basement. Hilfiger never attended college but built up the blue jean business into a chain of seven upstate New York stores called People`s Place. People`s Place sold jeans, bell bottom pants, and other clothing, as well as candles, incense, and posters. The stores were successful enough to afford Hilfiger a Porsche, but they were poorly managed. In 1977, People`s Place was forced to declare bankruptcy. Hilfiger moved to Manhattan and tried to find work as a clothing designer. Though he had no formal training, he had designed and sold vests and sweaters for People`s Place. He worked freelance and then started a sportswear company that went out of business after only one year. He eventually found work designing jeans for Jordache. In 1984, Hilfiger was contacted by Mohan Murjani, an Indian textile magnate. Murjani owned the license to Gloria Vanderbilt jeans and had helped spark the craze for designer jeans in the 1970s. Murjani had an idea to update the popular "preppy" look associated with designer Ralph Lauren and give it a younger and more mass appeal. He chose Hilfiger to design the line for his firm, Murjani International. In the beginning, however, marketing was much more important than the actual clothes. First Marketing Campaign in 1985 The line of Tommy Hilfiger clothing debuted in the fall of 1985 with an ad campaign that featured no clothes but declared that Hilfiger was a designer on par with Ralph Lauren, Perry Ellis, and Calvin Klein. The ads did little more than insert Hilfiger`s name in the pantheon. Yet this was somehow effective. The brashness of the strategy attracted attention in the fashion industry and caused comment by Johnny Carson and other notables. The first ads were centered around New York City, using print and outdoor media. By 1987, the Hilfiger line was attracting more national attention with advertisements in People, USA Today, Newsweek, GQ, Sports Illustrated, and other publications. The entire advertising budget for Hilfiger clothing was only $1.4 million, and ads appeared infrequently. They made a splash, however, with double-page spreads, and because they featured words, logos, or Hilfiger`s face, and no images of clothes or models, they stood out from other fashion advertisements. George Lois, who helped create the ads for the firm Lois, Pitts, Gershon, Pon/GGK, claimed in a March 1988 Marketing and Media Decisions article that he could not make Hilfiger`s clothes "look any better than anyone else`s," and therefore the ads sold "an idea" and not the particular fashion. According to one survey, after only two years of his ads, Hilfiger had succeeded in convincing 68 percent of sampled New Yorkers to name him as one of the top four or five important designers. Sales also attested to the brilliance of the marketing strategy. In 1986, Hilfiger brand clothing was available in 60 department stores and 25 specialty shops and brought in $32 million in retail sales. A year later, retail sales had more than doubled, to $70 million. Though clever advertising turned Hilfiger from an unknown into a top-selling designer, it was not only the mystique of the ads that accomplished this. The clothing was for the most part casual--khaki pants and a big polo shirt being the quintessential Hilfiger outfit. There was a little more flippancy in the cut and colors than the more staid Ralph Lauren style that Murjani had set out to imitate, and the clothes retailed for a bit less than similar designer togs. Hilfiger clothes fit the trend towards more casual work clothes--many offices in the 1980s were instituting casual Fridays--so this particular niche was expanding. Hilfiger clothes became staples of college men and others in the 20-to 35-year-old age group. The clothes were well-made, well-priced, similar to an existing fashion but with enough difference to stand out, and the offbeat ad campaign ignited a craze for them. Expanding the Label: Late 1980s By the late 1980s, Murjani International was trou

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