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Thomas Jacob "Tommy" Hilfiger (born March 24, 1951) is an Americanmarker fashion designer and founder of the brand Tommy Hilfiger.


Early life

Hilfiger was born and raised in Elmira, New Yorkmarker. The second of eight children, he grew up in an Irish-American family; he claims direct descent from 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', (NYSEmarker: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.

In May 2006, Hilfiger had a close encounter with Guns N' Roses singer Axl Rose at the Plumm in New York Citymarker. Hilfiger reportedly took a couple of swings at Axl Rose for touching his girlfriend's melons, before being carried away kicking and screaming by his own security guards.

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.

Personal life

Hilfiger has four children with his ex-wife Susie: Alexandria, 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, Connecticutmarker, mansion on the market in the summer of 2008 for an asking price of $27 million.

He married his second wife, Dee Ocleppo, former wife of Gianni Ocleppo, famous Italian Tennis player of the 1980s, on December 12, 2008.On February 25, 2009, the New York Post reported that Ocleppo is three months pregnant, and Hilfiger will welcome a fifth child later in 2009.On May 4, 2009, Hilfiger and Ocleppo announced the baby they are expecting will be a boy.Tommy Hilfiger and wife Dee Ocleppo welcomed a baby boy on Tuesday, August 4, 2009, Sebastian Thomas Hilfiger, weighing in at 9 lbs., 8 oz.


Hilfiger has been criticized for manufacturing clothes in sweatshop conditions in the United States territory of Saipanmarker in the Northern Mariana Islandsmarker. 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.

Product lines

  • 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 BeyoncĂ© Knowles

  • True Star, another fragrance created by Hilfiger and with spokesperson BeyoncĂ© 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.


  2. Apax Partners' funds complete acquisition of Tommy Hilfiger Corporation. Shareholders to receive $16.80 per share
  3. Tommy Hilfiger Corporation announces European Commission approval for proposed acquisition by funds advised by Apax Partners
  4. Tommy Hilfiger Corp. sold to private investors
  5. Tommy Hilfiger and Wife Expecting a Baby celebrity baby blog, February 25, 2009
  6. Tommy Hilfiger and Wife Expecting a boy! celebrity baby blog, May 6, 2009

External links

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