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Trendline: How Tommy Hilfiger gained and lost his street cred

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They’re singing the red, white, and blues at Tommy Hilfiger. The music-savvy designer has hit a sour note with hip-hop stars and suburban kids alike, who are increasingly turning to labels with more street cred (FUBU, Maurice Malone) or prepster cool (Abercrombie & Fitch). Should rumors of Tommy’s purchase of Calvin Klein come true, his fortunes will rise again. But here’s how Tommy gained and lost his cool cred.

March 1993
Appearing on Saturday Night Live in a red, white, and blue-striped rugby, Snoop Doggy Dogg cements Tommy’s ties to street cool.

November 1997
Red, white, and seen all over, Hilfiger launches more clothing lines, debuts Tommy Girl fragrance, and opens a flagship store in a two-story mansion on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills; the kickoff party includes guests Leonardo DiCaprio and Sheryl Crow.

Winter 1998
Goodbye rap, hello rock: Hilfiger declares ”The Year of Music,” sponsors a Stones tour, and uses Jewel in jeans ads.

May 1999
Stock hits 52-week high at 41 1/16.

September 1999
Bush is hired for Tommy’s Madison Square Garden shows. Incensed by the chattering crowd, the band hurls insults. Collection gets mixed reviews.

December 1999
Hilfiger goes highbrow, sponsoring the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Rock Style show, but his Christmas sales stumble; critics cite market saturation.

January – February 2000
The New York Times asks, ”Is Hilfiger Losing the Magic Touch?”; flagship stores to be shut. Despite a thumbs-up for fall tartans, a Feb. 12 MADtv skit depicts the once-hip designer as a co-opting preppy geek.

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