Tommy Hilfigher

Tommy Hilfiger

  1. The Origin
  2. Early life
  3. Finding Tommy (1984–1990s)
  4. 1990s – 2004
  5. 2005- 2011
  6. 2012-2016
  7. Recent years
  8. Brand status
  9. Charity work x Tommy Hilfiger

The Origin

Thomas Jacob (born March 24, 1951) is an American fashion designer best known for founding the lifestyle brand Tommy Hilfiger Corporation in 1985. After starting his career by co-founding a chain of record stores in upstate New York in the 1970s, he began designing preppy for his own eponymous menswear line in the 1980s. The company later expanded into women’s clothing and various luxury items such as perfumes, and went public in 1992.

Hilfiger published his first book in 1997, titled All American: A Style Book and he has written several since, including Tommy Hilfiger through Assouline in 2010. Hilfiger’s memoir, American Dreamer: My Life in Fashion & Business, co-written with Peter Knobler,was published November 1, 2016. Hilfiger’s collections are often influenced by the fashion of music subcultures and marketed in connection with the music industry, with celebrities such as American R&B artist Aaliyah in the 90’s.

Contestants in the CBS reality show The Cut competed for a design job with Hilfiger in a similar fashion to The Apprentice. Hilfiger sold his company for $1.6 billion to Apax Partners, and it was sold in 2005 and again he sold in 2010 to Phillips-Van Heusen for $3 billion. He remains the company’s principal designer, leading the design teams and overseeing the entire creative process. Hilfiger was awarded the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2012.

Early life

Hilfiger open a clothing store with is two friends Opened in 1971 as People’s Place, the first store was located in downtown Elmira in what is now the site of First Arena, and had a hair salon, a record shop, and rock concerts in the basement. To stock the store, Hilfiger and his friends would drive to New York City to buy clothing such as bell-bottoms, peasant blouses, and leather jackets. Slightly unsatisfied with the clothing he bought from other suppliers, Hilfiger began sketching his own designs, and would later write that “designing made me happier than anything I’d ever done. I knew from that early work that designing would be my life.”

Despite its initial success, after seven years of selling “hippie supplies like bell-bottoms, incense and records out of ten stores, the People’s Place went bankrupt in 1977, when Hilfiger was 25.He’s often referred to this point in his life as his real-world MBA. At this point Hilfiger enrolled in classes on commerce and the business side of the fashion industry. After then moving to New York City and working for several different labels, he set up a company called Tommy Hill in 1979, forming a design team at the age of 28. One of his first clients was Jordache Jeans, and as Hilfiger’s company expanded beyond denim he spent time in India, learning more about his trade: “I would sit in the factory with my pile of sketches and watch them being made, tweaking as I went. There’s no better design school in the world. In 1981 he founded the company 20th Century Survival, and the following year he founded Click Point, which designed women’s clothing.

Finding Tommy (1984–1990’s)

 After Tommy Hilfiger went through several iterations, searching for more stability, Hilfiger was relieved to be offered a design position with Calvin Klein. However, after he accepted the Calvin Klein position but before he had begun working, he was approached by businessman Mohan Murjani, to pursue his goal of designing and heading a men’s sportswear line. Murjani backed the necessary investment for Hilfiger to establish his own brand. Later Hilfiger oversaw the design of the Coca-Cola clothing line for Murjani.

“Waiting to form my own eponymous line, came from a desire to create something that wasn’t out there already. I was really in tune with the market, I knew what existed, and I wanted this to be different. Maybe it’s the small-town boy in me, but I’ve always loved the prep school look, traditional Ivy League, and the clothes that sailors and jocks wear. I wanted to take these familiar old things and give them a more laid-back attitude, to make them modern and cool, with Tommy Hilfiger Corporation in 1985, finally, I felt like I was doing work that felt natural, which felt good. The brand we were building felt so honest, so true to whom I am that it didn’t feel like a struggle at all.”


Professed lifelong fans of rock and roll, Hilfiger’s collections were often influenced by the fashion of music subcultures. The clothes are also marketed in connection with the music industry, and as early as 1993 Hilfiger was an official sponsor for Pete Townsend’s Psych derelict tour. Hilfiger has also sponsored several musical events, including Sheryl Crow’s If It Makes You Happy tour in 1997, Britney Spears 1999…Baby One More Time Tour as main sponsor, and Lenny Kravitz’s 1999 Freedom tour. By the mid-1990’s, Hilfiger’s style of clothing was popular with both the American “preppy” scene and as hip hop fashion. American R&B icon Aaliyah became the much-publicized spokesperson for Tommy Hilfiger Corporation in 1997.

Hilfiger had a cameo in the fashion spoof Zoolander in 2001, and from 2002 to 2006 Tommy Hilfiger Inc. owned the naming rights to the Tommy Hilfiger at Jones Beach Theatre Venue. Largely due to declining sales in the early 2000’s, Hilfiger began reworking the brand, striving to retain the designer brand exclusivity of the Hilfiger label by signing a deal to distribute the best-selling Hilfiger lines at Macy’s only. The Tommy Hilfiger Corporation continued to work closely with musicians into the 2000’s, focusing on fragrances as well as clothes. Sweet face Fashion, which owns the J.Lo by Jennifer Lopez line, was bought out by Tommy Hilfiger in 2003. True Star, a fragrance endorsed by Hilfiger and released in 2004, featured Beyonce as its poster girl. The Tommy Hilfiger Corporation company had revenues of approximately $1.8 billion and 5,400 employees by 2004.


A CBS reality show of 2005, called The Cut tracked the progress of sixteen contestants as they competed for a design job with Tommy Hilfiger and their own fashion line under Hilfiger’s label. The show progressed in a similar fashion to Donald Trump’s The Apprentice. After a final competition that involved setting up the display window for Macy’s Herald Square location in New York, Hilfiger chose Chris Cortez as the “next great American designer In 2006, Tommy Hilfiger sold his company for $1.6 billion, or $16.80 a share, to Apax Partners, a private investment company. Hilfiger, Rives, and Bar Refaeli co-hosted the Bravo special program Tommy Hilfiger Presents Ironic Iconic America. Based on the book Ironic Iconic America written by Hilfiger and designer George Lois., the program examined how pop culture has influenced American tastes and styles. Hilfiger was a guest judge on an episode of Project Runway, and he presented the Best African Artist award to Akon at the 2010 World Music Awards in 2009

Phillips-Van Heusen, owner of Calvin Klein, bought the Tommy Hilfiger Corporation for $3 billion in March 2010. The Tommy Hilfiger online and in-store ad campaign called “Meet The Hilfiger’s” began in August 2010 and ran through August 2011. Hilfiger and a partner signed a contract to buy the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower building for $170 million, planning to transform it into Hilfiger’s first hotel, with luxury condos. Hilfiger backed off the project in September 2011. A guest judge on the finale of Project Runway: All Stars along with Ken Downing in 2012 shortly afterwards he served as a fashion consultant to contestants on season 11 of American Idol


Hilfiger was instrumental in the creation of the Marc Anthony Collection in 2012, as Marc Anthony had never been interested in the fashion business until Hilfiger called him and convinced him a line was worthwhile. In 2012, Hilfiger was awarded the Geoffrey Beene, Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designer of America. Global sales in retail for the brand Hilfiger remains the company’s principal designer, leading the design teams and overseeing the entire creative process. They collaborated with model Gigi Hadid on clothing designs launching the TommyXGigi clothing collection in 2016, Hilfiger announced that he was working on his memoirs. The book was written chronologically over a year in 2015, with Hilfiger explaining “I was hesitant to write it, but thought I better do it now because someday I may forget. Co-writer Peter Knobler had full access to interview friends and family, with Hilfiger citing the candor of Diane von Furstenberg’s memoirs as an inspiration. Calling the writing process “great therapy” and “interesting, Hilfiger asserted that he “wanted to give people a sneak peek of what goes on behind the curtain of how the fashion industry works.” He read selections from the book in June 2016 at the Literacy Partners Evening of Readers and Gala Dinner Dance. Hilfiger’s memoir, American Dreamer: My Life in Fashion & Business, co-written with Peter Knobler, was published November 1, 2016. In a statement, Hilfiger described it as “a road map of the moments that have defined both my [40-year fashion career] and my personal life, and the book covers his childhood, his early business ventures, and his later life in fashion. With Kirkus Reviews calling it “an honest, straightforward, mostly entertaining autobiography, Hilfiger made an appearance for the book at the Miami Book Fair shortly after its release. American Dreamer appeared on the New York Times Best Sellers List in December 2016.

 Recent years

The brand will hold its ready-to-wear show in Los Angeles, in the first time the brand will not be part of New York Fashion Week, on February 8, 2017.Tommy Hilfiger has launched its spring Adaptive collection campaign in 2018. The digital campaign celebrates individuality and features Paralympic gold medalist Jeremy Campbell, motivational speaker Mama Caxx, dancer Chelsie Hill, and chef Jeremiah Josey. Tommy Hilfiger launched its first adaptive collection for children in spring 2016 and expanded to include a men’s and women’s adult collection for fall 2017, marking the first time a global fashion brand featured apparel to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities. Tommy Adaptive mission is to be inclusive and empower people of all abilities to express themselves through fashion. Designed with the end consumer in mind, the Tommy Adaptive collection features modified closures and adjustable details.

Driven by a commitment to innovation and modern style, the spring 2018 collection offers new product modifications including, seated options for tops and bottoms, bungee cord closure systems and updated Velcro brand closures.



Tommy Hilfiger  men’s, including Hilfiger Collection, Tommy Hilfiger Tailored and Tommy Hilfiger Menswear, Underwear and Swimwear, starting spring 2018.The partnership reflects Tommy Hilfiger’s strategic commitment to building on its strong menswear heritage and further drive the global growth of its men’s business, bringing the next generation of fans to the brand. The campaign features It features exclusive video teasers, print, online, and out of home media placements, and will be supported by unique consumer activation that continue to bring the brand’s unique perspective on pop culture to life around the world. The Tommy Hilfiger men’s campaign will run alongside the brand’s dedicated women’s advertising, featuring global women swear brand ambassador and international supermodel GiGi Hadid. The campaigns fused when Lewis Hamilton and GiGi Hadid took the wheel of a Mercedes-AMG GT S car at the Pocono Raceway and recorded their first drive together around the track in a dash cam shot video, directed by Matt Baron, that shows their reactions to the other’s driving skills.

Tommy Hilfiger has launched its spring 2018 Tommy Jeans capsule collection and campaign. The spring 2018 Tommy Jeans men’s and women’s capsule collection features denim essentials, injecting an irreverent twist into the brand’s sailing heritage through bold neon yellow pop colors, and re-imagining its iconic logo in a modern nautical flag design throughout. The men’s iconic pieces include a color-blocked sailing jacket, loose-fit denim jacket with nautical-style “stretch” flag logo on the back, neon yellow sweater, white hoodie with Tommy Jeans graphics on the arm, blue relaxed-fit jeans, and loose-fit chinos. The capsule also includes the Icon shoe, bringing back the original Tommy Hilfiger ‘Fly’sneaker that launched in 1997.

A celebration of individuality, diversity, and the brand’s music heritage, the campaign features up-and-coming artists Jelani Blackman and IAMDDB, singers Paloma Ford and Salma Slims, and models and influencers T-Bone and Rei.

 Brand Style

The Tommy Hilfiger brand is an example of a designer label. While Hilfiger’s earliest designs drew on 1960’s counterculture and fashion, His designs typically draw from classic American New England styles since 80’s. His initial lines for the Tommy Hilfiger Corporation were primarily designed to appeal to young men looking for designer clothing, and Tommy Hilfiger became one of the most prominent brands in 1990’s sportswear, with Polo Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Nautica, DKNY, and Donna Karan also popular. Each of these companies created distinctive wardrobes based upon stylish but wearable, comfortable and interchangeable multi-purpose clothes, all with a focus on luxury.

Hip hop fashion at large began incorporating the Hilfiger brand in the 1990’s, and when Snoop Doggy Dog wore a Hilfiger sweatshirt during an appearance on Saturday Night Live, it sold out of New York City stores the next day. Hilfiger courted the new hip hop market, and rappers like Puffy and Coolio walked during his runways shows. Specific items like Tommy Hilfiger carpenter jeans became particularly popular, with the trademark logo displayed on the hammer loop. Hilfiger continues to maintain multiple fashion lines, some focused on wearable “casual” clothes while others take on various haute couture commissions. Aside from the preppy styles of his youth, Hilfiger has also always been influenced by the style of a wide variety of American icons, including Grace Kelly, James Dean, Deborah Harry, Iggy Pop, Farrah Fawcett, Steve McQueen, Jackie and John F. Kennedy, and Andy Warhol. Many of his designs draw prominently from the styles of hard rock and the pop music industry.

Charity work x Tommy Hilfiger

Hilfiger launched The Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation in 1995. With an emphasis on health, educational and cultural programs, the organization supports charities that focus on at-risk American youth. Tommy Hilfiger was one of several sponsors along with Moet and Chandon, Christie’s Auction House, and The Advocate of the charity LIFE beat – The Music Industry Fights AIDS, in 1998.He is also personally involved in charities and causes such as Autism Speaks and the MLK, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, and he has served on the board of directors for The Fresh Air Fund, a New York-based group that helps underprivileged children attend summer camp. The Fresh Air Fund Camp Pioneer program was renamed Camp Tommy in 1999, in honor of Hilfiger’s patronage.

Hilfiger has designed limited-edition handbags in since 2008 to support Breast Health International (BHI), an international organization focused on finding a cure for breast cancer. A portion of the handbag sales proceeds are donated to BHI’s Fund For Living program, with celebrity ambassadors appointed for each seasonal campaign. Claudia Schiffer and Naomi Campbell modeled the BHI bag in a photo shoot with photographer Patrick Demarchelier, in 2013.

Millennium Promise, a non-profit organization focused on eradicating extreme poverty, hunger and preventable disease in impoverished regions, classifies Hilfiger as a Millennium Promise MDG Global Leader, and in 2009 Hilfiger made a five-year $2 million commitment to Millennium Promise. The donation went towards relief efforts in a Ugandan city, with the aim of improving residents’ access to necessities like clean water, education, and farming techniques. All philanthropic activities of The Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation were renamed Tommy Cares in 2012, a wider-reaching global initiative that further integrates the brand’s non-profit partnerships, charitable contributions, and employee involvement. On a global scale, Tommy Cares continues to support organizations such as Save the Children, the World Wildlife Fund, War Child, and Millennium Promise. Hilfiger and his wife are on the board of Autism Speaks as of 2012, and through the organization, Hilfiger became a sponsor of the Golden Door Film Festival in September 2014