FASHION

Tommy Hilfiger claims Russell Simmons told him “street kids and rappers” wore his clothes to feel rich

Russell Simmons, Tommy Hilfiger

Tommy Hilfiger Presents Spring 2013 Women’s Collection At High Line’s Chelsea Market Passage – Backstage

Tommy Hilfiger has Russell Simmons to thank for his popularity amongst the hip hop community throughout the 1990s.

Prior to luxury fashion houses becoming go-to status symbols of success, the who’s who of the culture could be seen in Hilfiger’s editorial campaigns and draped in the ready-to-wear attire. While his clothing line was already popular among the affluent crowd who could afford prep school tuition and family summer homes in Cape Cod, Nantucket and the Hamptons, it was not until hip hop embraced the Americana brand that it shot to newfound levels of popularity.

“It was actually Russell Simmons, who really is one of the godfathers of hip hop, who said to me that young street kids and rappers wanted to wear the clothes because they wanted to look rich,” Hilfiger said in a feature for hilfiger-interview-fashion-brand-history” data-ylk=”slk:The Guardian;elm:context_link;itc:0″ class=”link “The Guardian, which was published on Feb. 20 but has become a social talking point this weekend.

Simmons had already cornered his share of the streetwear apparel market when he launched Phat Farm in 1992. His then-wife, Kimora Lee Simmons, expanded the line to women with Baby Phat in 1999.

Hilfiger stated that the success he achieved following photoshoots with Aaliyah and Snoop Dogg established him as hip hop’s designer of choice, dethroning Ralph Lauren for a time and even dictating his approach to apparel. He said that the significance of sports inspired him to make large logos as demand for Tommy Hilfiger garments grew.

“They wanted everything way, way oversized because they were buying sizes that were way too large. And so I started just making oversized, and it was a perfect storm. I was dressing Puff Daddy for

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FASHION

Tommy Hilfiger still doesn’t know where those racism rumors started

The founder of the American legacy brand reflects on the impact of those rumors and his brand’s rise as a staple of streetwear.

If you’re of a certain age, you may recall a rumor that began in the late ‘90s about Tommy Hilfiger — specfically, that the designer appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and claimed he didn’t make his clothes for Black, Jewish, or Asian people.

This rumor has repeatedly been hilfiger-fashion-not-intended-minorities” data-ylk=”slk:proved;elm:context_link;itc:0″ class=”link rapid-noclick-resp”proved to be absolutely false, but what is true is how much Hilfiger appreciates that his brand has come to represent the intersection between aspirational luxury and streetwear in American culture.

As he launches his new Classics Reborn line, the legendary American designer reflects on the legacy of his brand, including the impact of that racist urban legend, in a recent interview with tommy-hilfiger-interview-fashion-brand-history” data-ylk=”slk:The Guardian;elm:context_link;itc:0″ class=”link rapid-noclick-resp”The Guardian. Hilfiger discusses his brand’s start in the late ‘80s and how times may have changed in the decades since, but what his brand represents has not.

Tommy Hilfiger, racism, American fashion, racism rumors, theGrio.com

Tommy Hilfiger attends the 2022 WWD Honors on Oct. 25, 2022 at Cipriani South Street in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

As a brand, Tommy Hilfiger simultaneously evokes youthful American preppydom and hip-hop culture. The brand began in earnest competition with fellow legacy brand Ralph Lauren, synonymous with American luxury, until it blossomed into streetwear. Hilfiger credits his brand’s rise to the most popular American brand of the ‘90s with its ability to hold space between those two seemingly disparate aesthetics that buzzy campaigns starring the late singer Aaliyah and other hip-hop and R&B icons of the era best exemplify.

“It was a perfect storm. I was dressing Puff Daddy for his tours. I was dressing Biggie Smalls. I was dressing

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