The December 29 issue of Forbes features an in-depth look at Tommy Hilfiger’s turnaround year in a candid article written by Clare O’Connor. It’s a must-read for emerging and established designers alike, profiling the dos and don’ts of building and growing a fashion brand. But don’t expect the normal rigmarole. Hilfiger is breaking all the rules by raising prices, cutting distribution and slimming sizes—and guess what? It’s working. Here are some words of wisdom from the comeback king and his crew.
DON’T PIGEON-HOLE YOUR BRAND
“We made the mistake of following a trend that was going to be short-lived,” said Hilfiger on his 90s hip-hop success. “Because any trend is short-lived.”
DO EXERCISE DISCOUNTS AND PROMOS WITH CAUTION
“It had become so bad that a shirt that was going to have a retail price of $69 was designed in such a way that even at markdown at $39 it would still make money,” said Tommy Hilfiger chairman and former CEO Fred Gehring.
DO CONSIDER EXPANDING EAST
“Asia is up the most [in revenues for 2013],” said Gehring. “The farther east you go, the greater the growth.”
DON’T OVERSATURATE THE MARKET
“If we were going to do this, we were going to be fully committed,” said Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren on the decision to be the sole retail partner of the Tommy Hilfiger brand. “We owned it, and we had to make sure we did everything in our power to sell it because he had no outlet other than us to move through the inventory.”