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American fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger created a brand of clothing that was extremely popular with several different communities in the 1990s.
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Fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger was born on March 24, 1951, in New York. Hilfiger has built his brand, using his signature red, white and blue tag, which has become popular among the upper class and the casual buyer. Before making his immensely popular product, he opened several stores in the '70s. It wasn't until 1984, when he was approached to design a men's sportswear line with his name that he took off into the stratosphere of fame and fashion.
Fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger was born on March 24, 1951, in Elmira, New York, the second of nine children in a working class Irish-American family. His mother, Virginia, worked as a nurse, while dad Richard made watches at a local jewelry store. Tommy Hilfiger attended Elmira Free Academy in high school, where he was neither a star athlete (he was so small, he had to sneak 15-pound weights in his pockets to get on the football team) or student (he suffered from undiagnosed dyslexia).
Hilfiger's entrepreneurial gifts, however, were evident from a young age. As a teenager, he began buying jeans in New York City that he remade and sold for a markup in Elmira. When he was 18, he opened a store called The People's Place in Elmira that sold hippie supplies like bell-bottoms, incense and records. Wildly successful at first-Hilfiger soon had a chain of stores and a six-figure income-a downturn in the economy hit his business hard, and he filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1977.
In 1976, Hilfiger fell in love with Susie Carona, an employee at one of his stores. The couple married and moved to Manhattan shortly after the bankruptcy. They were hired as a husband-and-wife design team by the apparel brand Jordache, but were fired after only a year. Hilfiger developed a reputation as a hard-working young designer, and was considered for jobs at Perry Ellis and Calvin Klein. What he really wanted, however, was his own label.
In 1984, Hilfiger was approached by Indian entrepreneur Mohan Murjani, who was looking for a designer to head a men's sportswear line. Murjani allowed Hilfiger to design the label under his own name, sealing the deal. The pair announced Hilfiger's arrival onto the scene with a blitz marketing campaign that included a bold billboard in New York City's Times Square announcing Hilfiger as the next big thing in American fashion. "I think I am the next great American designer," Hilfiger told a reporter in 1986. "The next Ralph Lauren or Calvin Klein."
Their tactics rankled the fashion establishment, which looked down on Hilfiger's naked self-promotion-Calvin Klein even got into a shouting match with the billboard's creator at a New York City restaurant. Though Hilfiger was embarrassed by the fallout, the bold tactics worked. Hilfiger's line of preppy clothes with his trademark red, white and blue logo soon became wildly popular. By the early 1990s, the hip-hop world embraced oversized versions of Hilfiger's clothes, and the brand assiduously courted rap stars and celebrities.
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Each day, we put on clothes that do more than just cover up bodies. We choose clothes that represent our personalities, our moods, the times we live in, our ambitions and our desires. Who are the people behind the designs we wear every day? These fashion designers who have made fashion a huge industry, and whose work is as controversial, and as influential, as traditional art. These are some of the designers who have dressed the world's most famous people—and are hugely famous in their own right.
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