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Column: Know Tommy?

Being a teenage girl, I am highly into fashion. That's why I decided to research a popular fashion designer.

Tommy Hilfiger is a name most people recognize. Most people think of clothes, accessories, or even the Tommy Hilfiger store when they hear his name. But very few people know the background of this iconic designer.

Tommy Hilfiger was born in New York on March 24, 1951. He is one of nine children who were raised by a jeweler and a nurse in his hometown of Elmira. Tommy opened his first store, People's Place, his senior year of high school. His early experience of fashion was briefly designing jeans for Jordache. Wanting to expand his career, Tommy partnered with a woman's clothing manufacturer and started 20th Century Survival. 20th Century Survival offered western and nautical styles, Victorian dresses, khakis and camouflage gear. As Tommy's popularity grew, he got job offers from famous designers such as Calvin Klein and Perry Ellis. He instead took a job with Mohan Murjani of Murjani International to fund his own men's wear company. In 1985, the Tommy Hilfiger line was launched. This line included preppy classics like chinos, oxfords, oxford shirts and polo knit tops.

Tommy Hilfiger's preppy style clothes are what made him known to the world. His big hoorah of fame came in 1994 when the rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg wore a rugby shirt with the word "Hilfiger" running across it on Saturday Night Live. That exact shirt was sold out the next day in New York department stores. Tommy is often compared to Ralph Lauren and criticized for stealing his preppy style of clothes and gearing it toward a younger market with prices that are much more pleasing. Also, both Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger use the American Flag as an important marketing tool. Marketing was as important to Hilfiger as his clothes were. He used a red, white, and blue flag logo on his clothes.

You can separate Tommy Hilfiger's clothes from others by noticing the American flag logo and/or the word "Tommy" spread across his shirts and a big letter "H" on his sweaters. Tommy's oversized, street-style sportswear and his relaxed, all-American style of jeans, khakis and polos make him unique. These clothes fit into the more casual approach to dressing that began as a trend at the end of the twentieth century.

Tommy Hilfiger does a lot more than design his well-known clothes. Designing underclothing, accessories, fragrances, home décor, designer jeans, women's wear, children's wear, and a higher-end men's wear collection are just a few examples of some of Tommy Hilfiger's lines. His many popular lines of clothes helped him achieve the Designer of the Year Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 1995.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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