Gabriella and I woke up early on Monday morning to get an 8am breakfast sneak peek at the new Tommy Hilfiger Global Flagship store on New York’s 5th ave, the most expensive street in the world. We were greeted with coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice, and served tasty breakfast treats including the most adorable and delicious bacon egg and cheese sandwiches on the tiniest english muffins I have ever seen! This store, inspired by a modern meets traditional Americana aesthetic has been a huge undertaking for the Tommy Hilfiger Group as this will be their largest retail store, and as it joins the elite mix of retailers on this prestigious shopping boulevard they aim to bring the character of 5th Ave into the store and the Tommy Hilfiger character to 5th Avenue.
Tommy Hilfiger debuted in 1985 as a menswear line, and in my memory, came to prominence in the early 90’s when I was in high school, as a preppy-hood style began to infiltrate the hip hop scene. Grand Puba went so far as to name drop the brand in his 1992 hit song “360° (What Goes Around)” off his solo album Reel To Reel with the line “Girbauds hangin baggy, Hilfiger on the top” and I remember within weeks of that song dropping, that decree became almost like a uniform – exactly what I saw in the hallways of my school. It was an alternative to the other expensive and prominent preppy Americana brand, Polo, which at the time also had a cult following, with so called “Lo-Lifers” running in crews boosting gear from department stores.
Fast forward 15-20 years and although the brand has lost it’s cache as the ultimate cool in urban gear, the Tommy Hilfiger brand has shown it’s staying power, and has and will continue to grow. This new global flagship store has 11,555 square feet of selling space on 4 floors and a mezzanine, decorated beautifully with vintage americana interspersed with a comprehensive Tommy Hilfiger lifestyle including the runway collection, womenswear, menswear and men’s tailored, footwear, accessories, the complete Hilfiger Denim collection, and carefully curated vintage.
We started by following the color-changing LED underlit stairway down to the the lower level,where the Hilfiger Denim collection is housed. This collection is only available at this location, and the Hilfiger Denim store in Soho, and is displayed around a relaxing lounge area with artwork, a denim wrapped bar, a programmable color, and image changing LED-lit chandelier, and an installation of 50 vintage license plates from every state in the union.
The first floor features the menswear collection, and is offset by elegant ivory drapes against walnut columns, channeling the old charm of a library or men’s club. Multi-colored painted Presidential busts from local Coney Island artisans Jimmyplastercreations add humor to the upscale vibe.
A staircase resembling a floating sculpture brings shoppers upstairs, and doubles as a viewing platform for revolving art installations. The Tommy Hilfiger Logo Flag art installation between the first and second level is composed of iconic American found objects like toys, and a vintage Cadillac fender in Red White and Blue, and features artwork by Paul Villinski. A vintage video camera tapes people going up the stairs and loops their images with Tommy Hilfiger runway shows on a monitor. On the second floor, the menswear collection continues, featuring a custom antler head collection mounted to suiting fabric, a collection of arrows and mannequin forms wearing American Indian headdresses from different tribes to pay tribute to all eras of American history.
The third floor begins the women’s collection, casual American sportswear displayed with a twist – classic pieces in an unexpected manner. It is spacious and easy to shop, and keeping in line with the rest of the store will change every month with a seasonal color story. The decor features doors reflective of those in the original Penn Station, a nod to it’s designers McKim, Mead and White, who also originally designed the building that houses the store. Chandeliers were restored from a defunct ballroom in Bushwick, Brooklyn. There is also a whimsical touch on the artwork of the lampshades, and wallpaper in the fitting room, which have been custom hand-painted to incorporate a folky feel.
The fourth floor houses the women’s runway collection in a more refined atmosphere – black & white with hot pink accents. Local artist Paul Villinsky’s “Vintage Vinyl American Records, Wire and Record Player” from the Museum of Art and Design beautifully decorates one wall of the floor, and serve as a nod to music playing an important role in the Hilfiger brand. The look of their runway collection is casual with more luxury accents, and strong fabrication, and aims to be more inclusive than exclusive compared to other luxury brands; elegant luxury that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Carefully curated vintage pieces from other brands are mixed in with the Hilfiger clothing, found on lucite hangers. This floor also has the unique feature of a balcony, which is the only retail balcony on all of 5th Ave, and serves as a lovely location to snap a picture capture your 5th avenue shopping experience.
The general decor and feel of this store are meant to supplement the easy going American feel of the Hilfiger brand, and is worth investigating. Little bits of humor and surprise meet you wherever you look. We were also invited to the grand opening party with red carpet access, and the Tommy Hilfiger runway show at Mercedes-Benz fashion week, so keep watch on the site for those posts. You can visit the Tommy Hilfiger Global Flagship store at 681 5th Ave, between 53rd and 54th Street in New York City.
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