From New Wave to Wavering


It was one of Seventh Avenue's mightiest engines. Using street-smart salesmanship to play on urban aspirations of upward mobility and suburbia's lust for hip-hop wear, the Tommy Hilfiger company roared past most of the Avenue's established houses to become the industry mass-marketing story of the 1990s. Even when its sales surpassed $1 billion a year and Tommy became fashion's Establishment, the models and hip-hop stars sporting his red-white-and-blue crest kept the company basking in an aura of cool.

So it came as an abrupt reality check on Wall Street this month when the company made the surprising disclosure that sales weakness...

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