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Karl Lagerfeld Gave Tommy Hilfiger the Advice that Helped Him Turn His Brand Around

>> After suffering in the late '90s and early '00s, 2009 was the best year in his brand's 25-year history, Tommy Hilfiger said yesterday. And he owes at least a bit of that success to Karl Lagerfeld.

When Hilfiger was trying to figure out how to turn the line around, he met with Karl Lagerfeld and asked him how he was able to reinvent Chanel successfully. “He said, ‘It was very simple. I looked at the Chanel archives and decided to modernize what existed already and make it relevant for today.’ As simple as it sounds, that’s exactly what we did,” Hilfiger said.

Now, Hilfiger has Peter Som consulting on the brand and made sure it has returned to what it stood for over the years: “a cool, American classic brand — preppie with a twist. That’s exactly what we were when we started."

But he's not stopping there — Hilfiger said he started the brand "based on what I wanted to wear. I wanted preppy clothes that were easy and relaxed . . . Brooks Brothers was very uptight, Ralph was Ralph . . . and I decided to redefine the classics.” And now he's taking on Ralph Lauren in another capacity — he just launched a new, younger-skewing TOMMY line, with its first concept shop in Manhattan (more are following in US and Canada), which could be seen as Hilfiger's answer to Ralph Lauren's Rugby.

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