In the midst of promoting his new book, American Dreamer, Tommy Hilfiger paid a visit to The Wendy Willams Show and discussed a wide range of topics, starting with his entry into the business with his first retail shop in upstate New York, onto the explosion in popularity of his brand within the New York rap scene in the early ’90s.
Williams said she associated the brand with Grand Puba, who shouted out the brand in Mary J. Blige’s single, “What’s the 411.” Hilfiger pointed out that Snoop Dog also helped the brand when he wore it on Saturday Night Live, and he also mentioned bringing on Aaliyah for ad campaigns and also working with Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child.
The talk show host didn’t wait long to tackle long-whispered rumors that Hilfiger wasn’t happy the hip hop community had embraced his brand. “Has hip hop helped or hurt your brand?,” Williams asked Hilfiger, who responded, “It propelled my brand into heights I’d have never dreamed it’d ever reach.”
Williams followed by asking, “About 20 years ago it was said that you said in some sort of public forum, that if you had known, first of all, that you didn’t make your Hilfiger clothes for blacks, Hispanics and Asians, and if you had known we were going to wear them you wouldn’t have made them of such high quality. And then, it was also said, you didn’t like the way hiphop was wearing your clothing because back them everything was big and fitted and you made things for elite white people.”
The designer went on to emphatically deny the rumor, saying, “When I started my brand, I was 18-years-old and we opened a shop called People’s Place. It was for the people. I’ve always wanted my brand to be offered to a broad range of people, everybody. I wanted to build a big lifestyle brand globally for everybody. The rumor was that I was on Oprah [Winfrey] and I said that if I had known certain people wore my clothes, I’d never would have been a designer and I never would have made quality clothes or whatever.”
Williams interjected, saying she heard Winfrey kicked him off the set for speaking negatively about minorities. In response, Hilfiger said, “Oprah invited me after she heard the rumor because we’re friends and she said, ‘Tommy, I know you really well. Come on, come on the show, let’s dispel the rumor,’ and she said, ‘Let’s dispel this rumor,’ and she said, ‘It’s a B.F.L., a big fat lie.'”
Hilfiger said the rumor rumor hurt his heart and soul. As proof that he doesn’t have an issue with minorities, Hilfiger argued that he helped Russell Simmons and Sean Combs start their brands.