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Phillips-Van Heusen buys Hilfiger

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Bill Radke: An acquisition just announced today in the fashion industry is size extra large. The conglomerate Phillips-Van Heusen, which owns Calvin Klein and Kenneth Cole and Izod and others is buying Tommy Hilfiger for about $3 billion. Joining us to talk about it is Time Magazine’s contributing editor Kate Betts. She joins us live from New York. She covers fashion at Time. Hi, Kate.

Kate Betts: Hi, Bill. Thanks for having me Bill.

Radke: It’s a pleasure. This is big. These are names even I recognize. Has the fashion landscape changed today for consumers?

Betts: Well, this certainly changes the international fashion landscape for American brands. I think Calvin Klein has the biggest name recognition around the world for an American brand. And Tommy Hilfiger has great distribution in Europe and Asia, so it really packs a double punch and it’s going to give them a lot of power.

Radke: How does that work? Why are they stronger together?

Betts: Well they’ll have a lot of power in the marketing world. They’ll have a lot more power in real estate — getting the best location in malls and retail stores around the world. It will just give them, really, financial power and the combination of distribution and name recognition is magical in the retail world.

Radke: OK. Now I remember Tommy Hilfiger, it was preppy and then it was big with rappers in the 90s. Where does Hilfiger the brand stand now? Is it dated? Is it big?

Betts: Well it got kind of lost, it’s true, after their high in the late 90s. But right now I think they’re trying to get back to this preppy, American image — this idea of all-American optimism. That’s what they really capitalize on the best.

Radke: But post-recession, is anybody still buying American optimism?

Betts: Well you know this isn’t really the real world, Bill. This is the brand world. But I think capitalizing on the American Dream has always been very successful for American retailers and apparel makers. So I think, especially in a bad economy, in a recession, people need optimism. That’s what they’re looking for.

Radke: OK. Kate Betts at Time Magazine, covering the fashion world there as contributing editor. Thank you very much.

Betts: Thank you.

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