Tommy Hilfiger just released an autobiography and he discusses the 1990s rumor that all but completely destroyed his relationship with Hip-Hop and urban culture.
In the early to mid-1990s Tommy Hilfiger had the fashion game on lock. Hilfiger shirts and jackets were must-have items if you wanted to be considered cool in any way. But then a nasty rumor came out saying that Hilfiger did not want Black people, or anyone that wasn’t White for that matter wearing his clothes.
Hilfiger reportedly said:
“If I’d known African-Americans, Hispanics, Jews and Asians would buy my clothes, I would not have made them so nice. I wish these people would not buy my clothes, as they are made for upper class white people.”
Hilfiger allegedly made the statement on the Oprah Winfrey Show. While no video or audio ever surfaced proving that Hilfiger actually said this, the rumor still spread and because of it Black folks and the Hip-Hop community soon turned their backs on Hilfiger. Pimp C summed up the silent boycott in the opening lines to his verse on fashion’s “Get Throwed” when he said “Polo, f*ck that Hilfiger.”
Hilfiger is still very much in business these days, but his popularity has obviously taken hit in some communities since those words got out. He’s finally addressing the ordeal in his new autobiography American Dreamer: My Life in Fashion and Business.
In the book, Hilfiger says that he never said those words and that he never even appeared on Oprah. In fact, the first time he actually did appear on Oprah was years later when denied saying them. He admits that the only mistake he made was not denying it sooner.
“I thought it was nonsense, and that anyone who read it would know it was slander,” Hilfiger writes in the book. “For one thing, I’d never said, thought, or felt anything remotely so repugnant. For another, I’d never appeared on Oprah. ‘If I just ignore this,’ I figured, ‘It’ll go away.’ The opposite happened.”
Hilfiger did get around to hiring investigators to find the source of the rumor but never found the culprit.
Luckily for him, time has healed the wound and 20 years after his heyday, the brand is making a comeback in the urban market. Hilfiger’s drama can be likened to the phony Donald Trump “Republicans are stupid” quote and meme, which ironically also allegedly came from an Oprah interview.
This goes to show you that you can believe everything you hear. Big Boi tried to warn people about it on Outkast’s 1997 song “Everlasting” when he rapped “Tommy and Ralph Lauren don’t like n*ggas to wear they clothes, Where your proof at?”
To read more quotes from Tommy about the rumors and the role Quincy Jones played in helping him clear his name, peep Real Talk‘s piece on it.
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