Tommy Hilfiger

American icon. There’s no other way to describe clothing brand, Tommy Hilfiger.

This is a premium American clothing company whose products include apparel, shoes, accessories, home furnishings, and fragrances. It’s been an icon of American fashion and 

casual clothing for almost forty years thanks to its freewheeling spirit and simple design.

Man with the Name

Tommy Hilfiger is the name of the man and the name of the brand, and the two are intertwined in the public consciousness. That’s intentional, as the charismatic founder of the company has been the driving force since the beginning. The man remains the principal designer of the product lines. 

Tommy Hilfiger, the company was founded in 1985 when Hilfiger met Mohan Murjani, an Indian businessman and corporate development specialist. Murjani was the original backer of the brand Tommy Hilfiger, allowing the company to get on its feet. Murjani was involved in the company until 1989, though he would later return to launch a branch in India.

It took a long time for Hilfiger to found his own company. He’d started his career in fashion design in 1968, co-founding the record and clothing store called People’s Place in upstate New York. That company had initial success, spreading to ten stores in short order, but it filed for bankruptcy in 1977. He moved to New York City, where he designed for labels like Jordache Jeans.

By the time he opened Tommy Hilfiger as a brand in 1985, Hilfiger the man had made a name for himself in New York Fashion.

Youthful, Casual

The youthful, fun, and casual nature of Tommy Hilfiger was central to its branding and to its success from its launch. That first signature line featured classically modern riffs on button-down shirts, chinos, and a wide range of classic preppy clothing pieces. That mark would follow Hilfiger on through time as the signature look and style.

Hilfiger partly found success due to his innovative marketing strategies that set the brand apart. Working with legendary advertiser George Lois, Tommy Hilfiger launched with a high profile marketing campaign that involved a massive billboard in New York’s Times Square. 

Casual male sportswear remained the focus of the brand throughout its first decade, targeting high-end customers at the peak of the eighties prep movement. The company saw a massive boon of success during that first decade. 

The company went public in 1992 and expanded to women’s clothing in 1996,

Change in Direction

The direction and market of Tommy Hilfiger shifted decidedly in the early nineties when rapper Snoop Dogg wore a Tommy Hilfiger jacket on Saturday Night Live. Hilfiger grabbed onto the opportunity, consciously courting the hip hop market as a way to extend his brand reach. 

Rappers like Puffy and Coolio walked the Hilfiger runway in New York Fashion Week. The company worked with R&B superstar Aaliyah to market its products. 

The change in direction proves profitable but controversial, as Hilfiger was widely accused of cultural appropriation.

Today, Tommy Hilfiger is sold in almost fifteen hundred stand-alone retail stores across ninety countries and in department stores everywhere. Though the company saw a downturn in the early 2000s, it’s since rebounded with year over year growth to more than six billion dollars per year. Expect to see more of Tommy, on the runway and online.