Tommy Hilfiger On His Memior and Business Beginnings

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Tommy Hilfiger On His Memior and Business Beginnings


Designer Tommy Hilfiger spoke on his book American Dreamer: My Life in Fashion and Business at the Miami Book Fair this past Sunday. His daughter was also in attendance, representing her book Bite Me, which details her life and experiences with Lyme Disease.

On Sunday morning, Hilfiger spoke with Jeffrey Brown from the PBS News Hour about his memoir, remarking that he chose to write his book now as he feels his mind is still fresh, and that for the sake of his children he wouldn’t want to risk mis-remembering his life. “I’ve got a lot of energy right now, so I thought ‘you know what, for my children’s sake, I would like to take the reader through my journey chronologically.’”

Hilfiger went on to explain how there had been ups and downs in his career, recalling how his brand  – which was estimated to be worth $250 million in 2012 – started with a $150 investment in 1969 at the age of 18.

Brown drew Hilfiger back to that initial start, back to a time when he didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life – a feeling so many can empathize with – and how his undiagnosed dyslexia only furthered this dilemma. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and what I really didn’t know was that I was dyslexic, and my grades were very, very poor in school, and so I really thought I was one of the dumb ones,” Hilfiger accompanied this final expression with air quotes. “And I think my teachers also agreed with that, and certainly my father, who held the bar very high for me, agreed with that.” Hilfiger went on to explain a feeling that he still needed to do something with his life – and how his fascination with the rockstars and musicians of the time (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix et al.) and their looks gave birth to what would later become a global brand.

Refreshing classic pieces was a keystone in Hilfiger’s initial plan for his brand, a style that has carried the brand through for nearly fifty years. “I didn’t like that it was, you know, too mediocre, so to speak” Hilfiger stated as he explained his dislike of the classic looks he would soon refurbish. “So I thought, ‘okay well I’m going to inject all these classics with newness, I’m going to make everything like relaxed, and colorful, detailed.’”

Brown probed further into Hilfiger’s early life, leading the author and designer to talk about the revelations in his book about bankruptcy, family life, and more. Eventually, the importance of fashion came into question – why it is important, or whether it is at all.

“There are many more important things in life than fashion,” Hilfiger stated later on. “But fashion to me is part of pop culture, and I’m an art collector, I’m obsessed with art and pop culture, and I say that there is F.A.M.E. – fashion, art, music and entertainment – including celebrity – that moves the needle in society. It really moves the needle in the world today.”

The full interview is available here.


Tommy Hilfiger On His Memior and Business Beginnings

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Written by Lillie Peterson

Lillie is a graduate from UC Santa Barbara with a bachelor's in Classics and a lifelong fascination for fashion and art. A freelance writer and artist, her hobbies include photography, design, drawing and blogging.

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