|Tommy Hilfiger Quick Info|
|Height||5 ft 8 in|
|Date of Birth||March 24, 1951|
|Spouse||Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger|
Tommy Hilfiger, the famous American fashion designer. He started the clothing and lifestyle brand “Tommy Hilfiger Corporation” in 1985. He started with selling menswear line and later also started women’s clothing items, perfumes, etc. His company was a public limited company in 1992. But, in 2006, he sold his brand to Apax Partners for $1.6 billion. But, he remained in touch with the company in the form of principal designer for “Tommy Hilfiger Corporation”. His company was re-sold to Phillips-Van Heusen in 2010 for $3 billion.
Thomas Jacob Hilfiger
Elmira, New York, United States
- Manhattan, New York City
- Greenwich, Connecticut
- Owns several other real estate properties including an 8-bedroom beachfront mansion at Palm Beach on the Caribbean Island of Mustique that he put on the market for sale in 2017.
Tommy graduated from Elmira Free Academy High School in 1970.
He was a below average student in school who failed his sophomore year (10th Grade) and had to repeat it. It was diagnosed much later that Tommy was dyslexic.
Since his parents wanted him to pursue a college education, he studied at the Bush Campus in Elmira affiliated to the Great Southern Tier Board of Cooperative Educational Services (GST BOCES) for a brief period.
- Father – Richard C. Hilfiger (Watchmaker, Jeweler)
- Mother – Virginia F. Gerrity (Nurse)
- Siblings – He was the second born of 9 children.
- Kathleen aka Kathy Hilfiger (2 Years Older Sister) (Decorator)
- Dorothy Clapp aka Susie (1 Year Younger Sister) (Registered Nurse)
- Elizabeth Hilfiger aka Betsy (4 Years Younger Sister) (Former Nurse, Director of Community Affairs for Tommy Hilfiger Corporate)
- William Henry Hilfiger aka Billy (5 Years Younger Brother) (Guitarist of many bands including King Flux & Brain Surgeons / Landscaping business owner; died of brain cancer in 2001)
- Robert Hilfiger aka Bobby (7 Years Younger Brother) (Former Stonemason, Business Owner)
- Marie Triehaft aka Dee Dee (8 Years Younger Sister) (Registered Nurse)
- Andrew Charles Hilfiger (10 Years Younger Brother) (Musician, Fashion Designer)
- Virginia Mahl aka Ginny (13 Years Younger Sister) (Fashion Designer)
- Others –
- Robert Burns (Distant Maternal Relative) (Famous Scottish Poet)
- William Henry Hilfiger (Paternal Grandfather)
- Dorothy K. Sauerbrey (Paternal Grandmother)
- Thomas F. Gerrity (Maternal Grandfather)
- Mary/Marie Margaret Kromer (Maternal Grandmother)
- Harley Hash (Granddaughter) (Ally’s Daughter)
5 ft 8 in or 173 cm
67 kg or 148 lbs
Girlfriend / Spouse
- Susan Cirona aka Susie (1976–2000) – Susan was Tommy’s employee in one of his earliest retail business ventures, People’s Place in Ithaca, New York. The day he met Susan in 1976, there was an instant attraction between them. At that time, Susan was 17 while Tommy was in his mid-twenties. One of Tommy’s friends reported that their relationship was inevitable since Susan and Tommy looked, talked and behaved so alike each other that they could have passed off as brother and sister. Tommy frequently mentioned that Susie was a great partner because she supported his dreams and vision. The couple got married in September 1980 and divorced 20 years later in July 2000. It is widely speculated that the breakdown of their marriage was caused by Susie’s dislike of all the attention and limelight brought about by Tommy’s work and her subsequent inability to socialize. The couple lost their first child due to Susie’s ectopic pregnancy. Thereafter, they had 4 children named: Alexandria aka Ally Hilfiger (b. February 1985, became a Television Producer), Richard James Hilfiger aka Rapper Rich Hil (b. March 1990), Fashion Designer and Streetwear Clothing Owner, Elizabeth Hilfiger (b. 1994) and Kathleen Hilfiger (b. 1996, who was diagnosed with Autism)
- Maggie Rizer – Post-divorce, the Daily News published a picture of Tommy with his fingers tucked underneath the waistband of model Maggie’s jeans. Columnist George Rush pointed that their body language was undeniably intimate. However, Tommy himself was rather amused by the speculation and denied dating the model who worked closely with him on his brand’s advertising campaign.
- Annabelle Bond – The designer confirmed that he dated British socialite Annabelle Bond for a brief period. She is the daughter of famous British financier and banker Sir John Bond.
- Elizabeth Somerby – Tommy had another casual relationship with a paralegal from Stamford, Connecticut that fizzled out after some time.
- Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger formerly known as Deniz Caroline Erbuğ (2005–Present) – Owner of the luxury, multipurpose handbags created in her name, Dee is a former model, former commodities broker, and ex-wife of retired Italian tennis player Gianni Ocleppo with whom she has two sons named Alex Occleppo (b. 1995, diagnosed with Autism) and tennis player Julian Ocleppo (b. August 1997). Dee and Gianni got divorced in 2003. Tommy and Dee were introduced to each other by a Yoga teacher while they were on a vacation at the high-end beach destination Cinquante-Cinq in St Tropez. Tommy invited Dee to a party at his yacht but Dee declined claiming she did not have a babysitter, so he invited her sons along with her. From there, initiated a close friendship between the couple for a year who bonded over the shared challenges of raising a child with Autism. The couple got engaged in February 2008 and threw a lavish engagement party at Neue Galerie, the Lauder family’s museum in Manhattan. The gathering was attended by the likes of Gayle King, Russell Simmons, Anna Wintour and Harvey Weinstein. After battling rumors and speculation about their break-up in August 2008, the couple overcame their differences to get married in an ultra-private closed ceremony at Hilfiger’s Connecticut estate in December 2008, a few days before Christmas. Their son Sebastian was born as a result of unplanned pregnancy in 2009. He was also diagnosed with Autism.
Race / Ethnicity
His father was of Dutch, German and possibly Swiss descent.
His mother was Irish but also had Scottish relatives.
Between Dark Blonde and Brown (Natural)
His hair has now turned gray.
- Broad forehead
- Thinning but smooth, silky hair
- Convex facial profile
- Formerly appeared in advertisements of Tommy Hilfiger and contributed to the worldwide fame of his brand by associating with A-list celebrities.
- Tommy was a huge fan of rock and pop music and believed the music and fashion industries influenced each other. Hence, throughout the 1990s, Tommy Hilfiger enhanced its brand value by offering endorsements to the following musical artists:
- Official sponsor of Pete Townshend Psychoderelict Tour (1993)
- Snoop Dogg wore Tommy Hilfiger’s striped Rugby shirt in an episode of Saturday Night Live (March 1994) that led to record-breaking sales.
- R&B icon Aaliyah was designated as a company spokesperson (1997).
- Official sponsor of Sheryl Crow’s If It Makes You Happy tour (1997).
- Official sponsor of Britney Spears Baby One More Time Tour (1999)
- Official sponsor of Lenny Kravitz’s Freedom Tour (1999)
- Endorsed a perfume named True Star (2004) with Beyoncé Knowles as the face of the product.
He is a non-religious person now but was raised, Catholic Christian.
Tommy’s father was a Protestant who converted to Catholicism to marry his mother. As a family, they visited the church every Sunday.
Best Known For
- Creating the clothing brand Tommy Hilfiger formerly known as Tommy Hilfiger Corporation backed by Indian Textile Magnate Mohan Murjani in 1986.
- In 2006, Tommy sold his company to a British private equity firm called Apax Partners for $1.6 Billion who further sold it to Philips-Van Heusen (now known as PVH Corp) in 2010 for $3 Billion.
- Tommy continues to serve his brand as the Principal Designer of the clothing company.
First TV Show
1 episode appearance as himself in the MTV show House of Style (Fall Edition) (1995).
Tommy Hilfiger Favorite Things
- Footwear – Belgian Loafers
- Musical Artists – The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin
- Place – Home
- Drink – Black Coffee
- Food – Organic Food
- Actor – Dustin Hoffman
- Business Hero – Bill Gates, Steve Jobs
- Motto – Never Give Up
Source – Elle Decor, CNBC
Tommy Hilfiger Facts
- He started working at the age of 9, first as a newspaper boy and then started mowing lawns. Then, he bought his own clothes as well as helped his brothers with money.
- Initially, Tommy wanted to become an NFL player, but his football coach advised that the sport wasn’t right for him because he merely weighed 120 lbs in freshman year (9th Grade) as opposed to near 200 lbs of body weight of other players.
- Due to his undiagnosed dyslexia, Tommy started observing the shoes and clothes of his teachers as a distraction from his inability to read the board or his textbooks. He often overheard his 5 sisters discuss fashion and developed a keen eye for latest trends in his teens.
- To finance a vacation away from home, Tommy took up a sales job at a hippie clothing store. Upon his return home, he alarmed his parents by coming back sporting rock star like long hair, sandals, and bell bottoms. This gave Tommy his first business idea when he realized his hometown was lacking in fashion.
- He purchased 10 pairs of bell bottoms from the nearest city Ithaca to sell them at a profit in his high school. They were sold out within a day.
- Next, he purchased 600 pairs of jeans from New York City to sell them at a profit in his hometown. They were all gone within a week.
- After saving $150, Tommy invested the money to open his own retail store called People’s Place in collaboration with two other friends which became an instant hit among the young adult crowd.
- At 16, Tommy worked at a gas station and he loved his uniform that had a huge logo of an automobile on it. Many years later, it inspired the designer’s love for large logos and bright graphics in his clothing line.
- Tommy’s father was extremely critical of him and never offered any source of validation while Tommy was growing up. Years later, he realized with the help of a therapist that his father was unknowingly mean to all his children named after relatives from his wife’s side while he was nice to all the children named after relatives from his family.
- His father apologized to Tommy for his lack of emotional support right before he approached his death in 1989.
- Since Tommy was still in senior year when he became a co-owner of a store, he had to wait till school’s closing to open the store at 3 pm.
- By the end of his senior year (12th Grade), Tommy had an annual salary of $60,000.
- By mid-seventies, Tommy co-owned 7-10 stores in various parts of New York and had a six-figure income.
- Bruce Springsteen was Tommy’s first celebrity customer. He sold him a motorcycle and a denim jacket.
- Despite the initial success, Tommy forgot to pay attention to the financial health of his business and got so busy splurging money by escorting dates to London, Paris, and rock concerts in privately chartered planes that his company went bankrupt after 7 years in business (1977).
- Not wanting to get broke again, Tommy took a few commerce classes and forced himself to learn the basics of running a profitable business.
- In 1979, Tommy formed a design team under the brand ‘Tommy Hill’ and acquired a client called Jordache Jeans. He gave himself a crash course in fashion design by visiting factories in India and observing how clothes got stitched and altered or corrected his design sketches accordingly.
- In 1981, he attempted to design women’s clothing under the labels 20th Century Survival, Click-Point and Tat-Too which were not commercially successful.
- Though the Murjani Group gave a platform to Tommy’s lifestyle brand, it was not until the company was acquired by Hong Kong-based Textile tycoon Silas Chou in 1989 that the company saw massive expansion to go public in 1992.
- A persistent rumor perpetuated against Tommy for many years that he created clothes exclusively for white people that got him thrown out of Oprah Winfrey’s show. Oprah had to invite Tommy to her show to put an end to that fabricated story.
- In 2005, Tommy hosted and sponsored a reality TV competition called The Cut, where 16 contestants fought for a chance to work for Tommy Hilfiger and create their own line under his label.
- Although the designer contributes to several charitable causes, he is personally involved with Autism Speaks and serves as a member on the board of the charity since 2012.
- His memoir titled American Dreamer co-written with writer Peter Knobler was released on November 1, 2016, which made it to the New York Times Best Sellers list in December 2016.
- Tommy’s signature style is to recreate conventional and classic designs with a touch of playful edge.
- To find out more about Tommy Hilfiger’s current collection sold in 90+ countries, visit the company’s official website @ Tommy.com.
- Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
Featured Image by Saloca / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0