TOMMY HILFIGER IS RACIST.
Does anyone remember that? I do, and the rumors started back in 1996 via emails, stating that Tommy had said “If I had known minorities would be using my clothing I would have never made it” from there the email rumor mill began and quickly spread verbally from different community to community. It quickly changed from “minorities” to “Blacks” and from “Blacks” to “Blacks and Asians”. Further was added to the story by going as far as he had said it on the Oprah show and she had kicked him off after the statement.
WHO IS TOMMY HILFIGER?
Tommy is an influential fashion designer from the 90’s he is famous for first designing a men’s lifestyle brand. He had humble roots started working at 18 in retail and then later on moved to owning a store called “The People’s Place” which later went bankrupt when he was 25. Following his bankruptcy he moved with his wife to New York. He was offered many jobs but turned them all down despite not having a penny. In 1984 he created the Tommy Hilfiger Corporation, then in 1992 he released his men’s clothing line, and by 1995 he was named best fashion designer of the year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. 1998, Tommy offered an endorsement deal to late singer Aaliyah Hutton, and at one point was the main sponsor for Brittney Spears. He then sold his company for 1.6 billion to a private company. Calvin Klein now owns and operates Tommy Hilfiger Co.
DID TOMMY REALLY SAY THAT? OR IS THIS A HUGE MISUNDERSTANDING?
According to Oprah, “Read my lips Tommy Hilfiger has never appeared on this show”! Oprah made that statement on January 11, 1999 due to the lack of support he now received after such a rumor was believe. A boycott against his clothes seemed to happen over night, because no one quite knew whom he meant by minorities. It even got as bad as a fellow co-worker of Tommy’s was Jewish and said that there is a rumor that he didn’t want Jewish people using his clothes, and turning to the Filipino tabloids they even stated that he didn’t want Filipino’s to use his clothing.
This miscommunication or lack there of communication took a toll on Tommy’s reputation. No one believe that he didn’t say that, even after Oprah stepped forward to set the record straight there was still plenty of doubt as to if he had or had not said that and for most it was easier to believe he did, then to prove he didn’t.
After a few years, the Anti-Defamatory league had to get involved. After an extensive investigation they wrote a letter freeing Tommy of making any statements or even being on the Oprah show at all. After about 12 years Tommy finally made his appears on the Oprah show and they took an extensive look at the rumor, to this day Tommy still doesn’t know where it started. The misunderstanding had a long 12-year stretch before it was cleared up. No damage had really been done but the connotation of the little misunderstanding the Hilfiger logo still is put in memes on the Internet speculating that he was on Oprah and did make the “statement”.