Tommy Hilfiger

Tommy Hilfiger

Infobox Fashion Designer

caption = Tommy Hilfiger logo
name = Tommy Hilfiger
nationality = American
birth_date = Birth date and age|1951|3|24
birth_place = Elmira, New York, U.S.A.
death_date =
death_place =
education = Elmira Free Academy
label_name = Tommy Hilfiger
significant_design =
awards =

Thomas Jacob Hilfiger (born March 24, 1951 in Elmira, New York) is a American fashion designer and founder of the brand Tommy Hilfiger.


Hilfiger was born and raised in Elmira, New York. The second of nine children, he grew up in an Irish family and claims direct descent from Scotland's national Bard Robert Burns. [ [] ] His parents originally intended for him to be an engineer. He attended Elmira Free Academy for high school. Rather than furthering his education, he started to work in retail at the age of 18. Hilfiger would go to New York City to buy jeans and bell-bottom pants, which he customized and resold at a local downtown Elmira store, Brown's.

He later opened his own store, named The People's Place, around the block in downtown Elmira. Although the store was a hot spot for teens with frequent contests and live DJ appearances, there were often more people hanging out than shopping. Over the years, a number of stores closed in downtown Elmira as shopping traffic shifted to the new Arnot Mall in Horseheads, New York. It wasn't long before The People's Place became another casualty. After seven years, The People's Place went bankrupt, when Hilfiger was 25. The site of the original store has since been demolished to make room for First Arena, home of the Elmira Jackals Hockey team.

After turning to the design aspect of clothing by designing for the rest of his stores in upstate New York, Hilfiger moved to New York City with his now estranged wife, Susie. Although he was offered design assistant positions with designers Calvin Klein and Perry Ellis, and was broke, he turned them both down with greater plans in mind.

In 1984, he founded the Tommy Hilfiger Corporation (NYSE:TOM), which went public in 1992, introducing his signature menswear collection. By 2004 the company had 5,400 employees and revenues in excess of $1.8 billion. Hilfiger was named Menswear Designer of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 1995.

In 1998, Hilfiger gave singer Aaliyah her endorsement deal, in which he was honored to have her in his Summer 1998 fashion show in Jamaica.

In 2005, a CBS TV reality show called "The Cut" tracked the progress of sixteen contestants as they competed for a design job with Hilfiger in similar fashion to Donald Trump's "The Apprentice". In the end Hilfiger chose Chris Cortez.

In May 2006, Hilfiger had a close encounter with Guns N' Roses singer Axl Rose at the Plumm in New York City. Hilfiger reportedly took a couple of swings at Axl Rose for moving his girlfriend's drink, before being carried away kicking and screaming by his own security guards. [cite news |url=,2933,196353,00.html |title=Tommy Hilfiger Fights Axl Rose at New York Club |date=21 May 2006 |publisher=Associated Press |accessdate=2007-10-11] Club owner Noel Ashman stated, "Axl was a gentleman and had the good sense not to retaliate as he would have done some serious damage to Hilfiger." Later that night, Rose dedicated the song "You're Crazy" to "My good friend Tommy Hilfiger."

Largely due to declining sales, in 2006, Tommy Hilfiger sold his company for $1.6 billion, or $16.80 a share, to Apax Partners, a private investment company. [ [ Apax Partners' funds complete acquisition of Tommy Hilfiger Corporation. Shareholders to receive $16.80 per share] ] [ [ Tommy Hilfiger Corporation announces European Commission approval for proposed acquisition by funds advised by Apax Partners] ] [ [ Tommy Hilfiger Corp. sold to private investors] ]

Hilfiger put his Greenwich, Connecticut, mansion on the market in the summer of 2008 for an asking price of $27 million. He is dating Dee Ocleppo, former wife of Gianni Ocleppo, famous Italian Tennis player of the 1980s.When Hilfiger has four children. His daughter Ally was featured in the MTV reality show "Rich Girls" and he also has a son Rich Hil who is signed to Hip hop super producer Swizz Beatz' label Full Surface.


Hilfiger has been criticized for manufacturing clothes in sweatshop conditions in the United States territory of Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands. As a U.S. Commonwealth, clothes made there can be labeled "Made in the USA", but federal labor laws including the minimum wage do not apply. In March 2000, the company, along with other defendants, settled a class action suit brought by Saipan garment workers, which had alleged mistreatment by over 20 large U.S. clothing manufacturers. [cite news |url= |title=Eight more U.S. retailers settle sweatshop suit |date=28 March 2000 |publisher=Reuters |accessdate=2007-10-11]

Beginning in 1997, Hilfiger was subject to a vicious e-mail and word-of-mouth rumor claiming he made racist statements on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" saying he wished certain minorities would not wear his clothes. [cite news |url=|title=ADL Letter to Tommy Hilfiger |date=11 July 2001 |publisher=Anti-Defamation League |accessdate=2008-08-21] This was nothing more than a hoax because not only did both Hilfiger and Oprah deny this ever happened, but up to that point Hilfiger was never a guest on her show. Eventually in 2007, Hilfiger appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" to specifically address the vicious rumor. [cite news |url=|title=Oprah interviews Tommy Hilfiger |date=11 May 2007 |publisher=The Oprah Winfrey Show |accessdate=2008-08-21] Despite the allegation being completely untrue, it remains a rumor that continues to be circulated to this day and haunt the Hilfiger brand.Fact|date=September 2008

On May 16, 2007 "The New York Times" reported that Hilfiger fired their union cleaning company and replaced the workers making $19 per hour with benefits with workers making $8 per hour. [cite news |url= |title=Unkind Cut for Janitors at Hilfiger |last=Dwyer |first=Jim |date=16 May 2007 |publisher="The New York Times" |accessdate=2007-10-11] Hilfiger himself receives a minimum of $14.5 million per year from the company.

Product lines

*True Star Gold, fragrance created by Hilfiger and spokeswoman Beyoncé Knowles
* True Star, another fragrance created by Hilfiger and with spokesperson Beyoncé Knowles & True Star Men, a fragrance created by Hilfiger and with spokesperson Enrique Iglesias
* Tommy Girl, fragrance for women
* Red Label, a line of denim-themed products including jeans, t-shirts, and sweatshirts
* H by Tommy Hilfiger, an upscale line which was ended after Tommy Hilfger sold his company, the same sort of style is now carried on under the Tommy Hilfiger label in their specialty stores
* Tommy Hilfiger, the company line of clothes sold in department stores, company stores, and specialty stores
* Tommy Sport, a defunct line that came out in the 1990s and capitalized on Hilfiger's popularity in urban areas.
* Tommy Hilfiger for the Home, a line of bedding and bath products
* Tommy Sailing, was due to be released in January or February 2007.


External links

* [ Official website]
* [ Official Tommy Hilfiger online store in USA]
* [ Official Tommy Hilfiger online store in United Kingdom (UK)]
* [ Official Tommy Hilfiger online store in Ireland]
* [ Urban Legends that allege false claims against Hilfiger]
* [ Anti-Defamation League; Letter to Tommy Hilfiger]

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