Tommy Hilfiger

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Tommy Hilfiger
Tommy Hilfiger in 2010
Born Thomas Jacob Hilfiger
(1951-03-24) March 24, 1951 (age 64)
Elmira, New York, United States
Nationality American
Occupation Fashion designer
Religion Catholic[citation needed]
Spouse(s) Susie Hilfiger
(m. 1980–2000)
Dee Ocleppo
(m. 2008–present)
Children Alexandria ("Ally")
Richard ("Ricky/Rich Hil")
Sebastian Thomas
Labels Tommy Hilfiger

Thomas Jacob "Tommy" Hilfiger (born March 24, 1951)[1] is an American fashion designer and founder of the lifestyle brand Tommy Hilfiger Corporation.

Early life[edit]

Hilfiger was born in Elmira, New York.[2][3] The second of nine children of a jeweler and a nurse, he is of German-Swiss and Irish descent, and was raised Catholic.[4] Hilfiger also claims direct descent from the Scottish poet Robert Burns.[5] His parents wanted him to get a college education and pursue a traditional career.

He attended the High School of Art and Design.[citation needed] He also attended GST BOCES Bush Campus[6] in Elmira for machine shop trades.


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 Brown's, a local downtown Elmira store.

With only $150 he opened his own store, named People's Place,[7] 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.[citation needed] His store, The People's Place, was in the basement of a commercial building in Elmira. While it was successful, it was completely destroyed by the large flood that resulted from Hurricane Agnes in June 1972. After seven years, The People's Place went bankrupt, when Hilfiger was 25. This is when he enrolled to study commerce. (The site of the original store has since been demolished to make room for First Arena, home of the Elmira Jackals hockey team.)[citation needed]

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 wife Susie. Although he was offered design assistant positions with designers Calvin Klein and Perry Ellis, he turned down the offers despite the fact that he was broke.[citation needed]

In 1985, 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.[8]

In 1993, Hilfiger was a sponsor for Pete Townshend's Psychoderelict tour.

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

In 1999, Hilfiger was listed as main sponsor for Britney Spears 1999 ...Baby One More Time Tour. His nephew, pop singer Michael Fredo was also a model and spokesperson for Tommy Jeans and was the opening act on Britney Spears' Baby One More Time Tour.

In 2001, Hilfiger signed a contract with Amy Lemons as spokesmodel for Tommy Jeans.

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.[9][10][11]

In March 2010, Phillips-Van Heusen, owner of Calvin Klein, bought the Tommy Hilfiger Corporation for $3 billion.[12]

In March 2012, Hilfiger was announced as the fashion consultant on American Idol.

Personal life[edit]

Hilfiger has four children with his ex-wife, Susie: Alexandria ("Ally"); Richard ("Ricky"); Elizabeth; and Kathleen. On December 12, 2008, he married his second wife, Dee Ocleppo.[13] They had a son, Sebastian Thomas, in 2009.


Hilfiger has been criticized for having manufactured clothes in sweatshop conditions in the United States territory of Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands. Since it is 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 Saipanese garment workers, which had alleged mistreatment by over 20 large U.S. clothing manufacturers.[14]

Product lines[edit]

  • Hilfiger Denim, a denim collection for men and women; designs are inspired by American classics and finished with a modern edge[15]
  • 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 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, a line that 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[citation needed]
  • 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


  1. ^ "Tommy Hilfiger profile: news, photos, style, videos and more – HELLO! Online". Retrieved 2015-07-17. 
  2. ^ "Tommy Hilfiger - Biography, Personal Life, Controversies - Called, Oprah, Company, and People’s - JRank Articles". Retrieved 2014-01-21. 
  3. ^ "Tommy hilfiger News, Video and Gossip". Gawker. Retrieved 2014-01-21. 
  4. ^ "RTÉ Television - The Late Late Show - 21 November 2008". 2008-11-21. Retrieved 2015-07-17. 
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ "The Greater Southern Tier Board of Cooperative Educational Services (GST BOCES) website". Gst Boces. Retrieved 2014-01-21. 
  7. ^ "Inside Tommy Hilfiger's American Dream". Retrieved 2015-07-17. 
  8. ^ [2][dead link]
  9. ^ [3][dead link]
  10. ^ [4][dead link]
  11. ^ [5][dead link]
  12. ^ "Calvin Klein owner buys Tommy Hilfiger". BBC News. 2010-03-15. Retrieved 2015-07-17. 
  13. ^ "Celebrity Babies and Kids – Moms & Babies –". 2012-03-22. Retrieved 2015-07-17. 
  14. ^ "Eight more U.S. retailers settle sweatshop suit". Reuters. 28 March 2000 (archived 2005). Archived from the original on 2005-10-13. Retrieved 2007-10-11.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  15. ^ "Hilfiger Denim Fashion Fair". Retrieved 2010. 

External links[edit]