Thomas Jacob “Tommy” Hilfiger (born March 24, 1951) is an American fashion designer and founder of the premium lifestyle brand Tommy Hilfiger.
Hilfiger born in Elmira, New York. The second of nine children, he grew up in an Irish-American family; he claims direct descendence from Scottish poet 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. Over the years, a number of stores closed in downtown Elmira as shopping traffic shifted to the new Arnot Mall in Horseheads, New York. 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 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), with support from The Murjani Group, 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 honored 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.
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.
In March 2010, Phillips-Van Heusen, owner of Calvin Klein, bought the Tommy Hilfiger Corporation for $3 billion.
Hilfiger has four children with his ex-wife, Susie: Alexandria (“Ally”), Richard, Elizabeth, and Kathleen. His daughter Ally was featured in the MTV reality show Rich Girls and his son, Rich, was signed to hip hop super producer Swizz Beatz’ label Full Surface.
Hilfiger put his Greenwich, Connecticut, mansion on the market in the summer of 2008 for an asking price of $27 million.
On December 12, 2008, he married his second wife Dee Ocleppo (née Erbug), former wife of Gianni Ocleppo, famous Italian tennis player of the 1980s.
On February 25, 2009, the New York Post reported that Ocleppo was three months pregnant, and Hilfiger would welcome a fifth child later in 2009.
On May 4, 2009, Hilfiger and Ocleppo announced they were expecting a boy, who was born on Tuesday, August 4, 2009, and named Sebastian Thomas Hilfiger.
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.
Libelous hoax email
An email saying that Hilfiger appeared on the Oprah Winfrey television show on “28 November” and made racist remarks, and calling for a boycott of Hilfiger’s merchandise, has circulated widely. It was first seen in 1996, seemed to disappear, but reappeared and was still in circulation as of 2011. Winfrey made clear on her show and website in 1999 that Hilfiger had never appeared on her show until then, much less made the remarks attributed to him in the email; and Hilfiger paid investigators, who traced it to a college campus but could not identify the perpetrator. Allegations were reported to the Anti-Defamation League; they wrote to Hilfiger in 2001 “We have concluded that these rumors are completely false, and it is apparent that you never made the statements attributed to you, nor did you appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show”. Hilfiger appeared on the Winfrey show on 1 January 2006, where he and Winfrey repeated that he had not appeared before. Winfrey said about the email “You’re supposed to say, ‘That’s a big fat lie.'”
Hilfiger Denim, a premium-upscale denim collection for men and women. Designs are inspired by American classics and finished with a modern edge.
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.
Tommy, a brightly colored casual line.
Tommy Jeans, a denim inspired clothing collection and corresponding fragrance
Hilfiger Athletics, a sport inspired clothing line and fragrance
Tommy Hilfiger NYC