Article Oct 28, 2016

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Tommy Hilfiger: 'Designers recreate fashion'

Tommy Hilfiger believes that there are no true inventors working in the fashion business.

The American designer launched his eponymous brand in 1985 and quickly built up a reputation for designing preppy sportswear and tailored menswear.

In his new autobiography, titled American Dreamer, Hilfiger details his setbacks and comebacks as well as his transformation into fashion icon.

While his designs are praised for crossing genres and demographics, in the book Hilfiger describes how he doesn’t consider himself to be an inventor.

“I don’t think generally speaking, there are a lot of innovators and inventors,” he told WWD.

“Many of the designers take what exists already and update it or make it relevant for today. But true inventors have never been seen before. Bill Gates is a real inventor. I don’t think fashion designers invent anything new. They innovate new ways to make fashion.”

In the work, Hilfiger opens up about A-list personalities with whom he’s collaborated and interacted, from Mick Jagger and David Bowie to Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren. And he says it was the latter designer who he was often unfairly compared to over the years.

“In 1992 and 1993, Ralph (Lauren) probably wasn’t very happy with us. My intent was never to copy him. I wanted to be newer and fresher and younger, and hipper and cooler,” he said. “But we all liked Ralph’s business model: the basics, classics and fashion delivered on a regular basis; the in-store shops; the stand-alone shops; the advertising; the lifestyle image.”

The 65-year-old also opens up about his relationship with the hip hop community, which really embraced his oversized jeans and logoed sweatshirts. And he notes that the night Snoop Dogg wore a “Tommy” rugby jersey on Saturday Night Live in 1994 was a game changer for his brand.

“That was the night that made Tommy Hilfiger supremely cool with the youth,” he smiled.

American Dreamer: My Life in Fashion & Business goes on sale on 1 November (16).