Awards Spotlight: Tommy Hilfiger, Honoree, Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award

tommy hilfiger

2012 Honoree for:

CFDA Honors:

For over 25 years, Tommy Hilfiger has brought classic, cool, American apparel to consumers around the world. Under Hilfiger’s guidance, vision and leadership as Principal Designer, The Tommy Hilfiger Group has become one of very few globally recognized designer brands offering a wide range of American-inspired apparel and accessories.

Born the second of nine children in Elmira, New York, Hilfiger’s career in fashion began as a high school student in 1969 when he opened a small chain of stores called People’s Place with just $150. His goal was to bring fashion from New York City and London to upstate New York. Self taught, he soon began designing for the boutiques he had always admired. In 1979 he moved to New York City to pursue a career as a full-time fashion designer. In New York, Hilfiger caught the eye of Mohan Murjani, a businessman who was looking to launch a line of men’s clothing and believed that Hilfiger’s entrepreneurial background gave him the unique ability to approach men’s fashion in a new way. With Murjani’s support, Hilfiger introduced his first signature collection in 1985 by modernizing button-down shirts, chinos, and other time-honored classics with updated fits and details. The relaxed, youthful attitude of his first designs has remained a distinctive hallmark throughout all of Hilfiger’s subsequent collections.

Hilfiger’s diverse achievements in business, retail and fashion have earned him a variety of distinguished awards: Menswear Designer of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (1995); VH1’s “From the Catwalk to the Sidewalk” award (1995); Designer of the Year award from Parsons School of Design (1998), GQ magazine’s annual “Men of the Year” issue (1998); GQ Germany’s International Designer of the Year award in Germany (2002); GQ Spain’s Designer of the Year (2006); Hispanic Federation’ s Individual Achievement Award (2007); Bambi Award for the fashion category (2008); Women’s Wear Daily #1 Designer in their Annual ‘100’ List (2008); UNESCO Support Award (2009); Marie Claire’s Lifetime Achievement Award (2009), Pratt Institute’s Legends Award (2010).

In 1995, Hilfiger launched The Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation to enrich the physical and intellectual well being of youth with an emphasis on education and cultural programs that impact a diverse population. Hilfiger is actively involved in a number of charities and causes, including the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King Jr., National Memorial Project Foundation and The Fresh Air Fund. In 2009, The Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation donated over $2 million to Millennium Promise, a non-profit organization founded in 2005 to help end extreme poverty. In 2010, Millennium Promise named Tommy Hilfiger the first Millennium Promise MDG Global Leader.

A Moment with Tommy…

My first job in fashion…I always knew I wanted to be a designer. I started my career at 18 when I opened my first store, “People’s Place,” to bring rock-n-roll fashion from New York City to Elmira, where I grew up.

Being nominated for a CFDA Fashion Award is…It is an incredible honor to receive the CFDA’s Lifetime Achievement Award.  I always hope the best is still ahead, but it has been a wonderful 26 years and this is an exciting celebration and recognition of the brand.

Success for me is…For me, success has been the result of hard work and staying passionate about what I do.

Next thing on my bucket list…I’m hoping to take some time this summer to work on my tennis game!

Being a CFDA member…has been a valuable learning experience.  It was through the guidance and mentorship of others that I learned the skills to succeed in this industry, and now I value the opportunity to do the same for other young designers.

To learn more about Tommy Hilfiger: