Tommy Hilfiger is the latest jewel in the Crown Estate's upmarket makeover of Regent Street in London. But the store, which is a stone's throw from the Brooks Brothers and Timberland flagships, also represents the final touch of a makeover for Tommy Hilfiger itself.
The company has been gradually bringing consumers round to an image of Tommy Hilfiger as a classic modern brand, away from the hip-hop connotations that derailed its UK roll-out in the late 1990s. After years of laying low here, the business now wants the UK share of its European sales to rise from 10% at present to at least 20%. Momentum will certainly get a big push from the Regent Street store, with its library-style wardrobe fixtures and natural rich materials.
The flagship trades across 6,000sq ft on ground and basement levels of the building. On the upper floors, 8,600sq ft will be used for a showroom and company offices.
The store marries the neo-classical pillars seen in Tommy Hilfiger stores worldwide with English Regency-style details, such as an opulent 5ft chandelier in crystal and brass. Scottish tartan fabric is used to frame windows and display wardrobes, while the sofas are upholstered in Savile Row pinstripes.
The historical atmosphere starts from the ground up with American antique oak parquet floors. A two-flight open staircase leading down to the basement is made from the same timber.
Formal and smart casual menswear is located on the ground floor, with womenswear and a laid-back denim lounge downstairs. Access to the basement is via an elegant staircase, framed by a wrought iron railing and a timber hand rail.
According to Claire Plowman, the project manager for retail design, creating an accessible and inviting basement floor was a particular challenge. "We had to cut out and reinforce the building's beam structure between the ground floor and the basement," she says.
The concept was developed by the brand's in-house team over about 18 months, and the shop opened at the end of November.
Tommy Hilfiger has approximately 600 stores worldwide but just seven in the UK, including shops on Sloane Street in London, King Street in Manchester and at Liverpool's Metquarter, which opened in December.
The company also has seven franchise stores in the Republic of Ireland. Retail revenue is about 10% of total turnover for the UK and RoI, which is expected to exceed £50 million for the year to March 31. Tommy Hilfiger chief executive Fred Gehring, backed by private equity group Apax Partners in a May 2006 buyout, wants to take the retail proportion of sales up to 35% across Europe.
With another four or five UK stores believed to be on the radar this year, expect to see more of Tommy Hilfiger's makeover.