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Inflight Magazine of Brussels Airlines

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Tommy Hilfiger

Tommy Hilfiger has come a long way from the audacious 1985 ad that declared him one of the US’s four great designers. As the 25th anniversary comes to a close, Richard Bence meets the king of classic American cool

I’m learning that in times of crisis, people are more and more interested in quality.
Excellence in quality has always been the brand’s core value, and I believe that this is why we have received such positive responses from both our loyal and new consumers, despite the economically challenging climate the world is experiencing.

I started designing under my own name in the early 1980s after moving to New York.
I introduced my first signature collection in 1985 and a billboard in Times Square announced my arrival, boldly declaring that I was one of the four great American designers for men. It was a revolutionary and provocative campaign that put my name on the map and transformed my brand into an internationally successful business.

Since 1985 I have offered classic American cool designs by continuously updating and reinventing timeless pieces to reflect a modern design aesthetic. My brand’s style is preppy: it’s effortlessly sophisticated.

I’m confident that in 10 years time my brand will still be standing strong as one of the leading premium lifestyle brands in the world.
Consumers across the globe will continue to turn to the Tommy Hilfiger brand for timeless classic pieces that they love to wear.

I can’t live without my BlackBerry.
It keeps me connected to my family no matter where I am in the world.

Whatever I’m doing, I like to wear clothes that are versatile and comfortable.
I always make sure I pack a white Oxford shirt, a navy blazer and a pair of jeans when I travel. To celebrate my brand’s 25th anniversary I created the Icon collection, which contains my favourite American classics inspired by my personal style icons, such as Steve McQueen, Grace Kelly, James Dean and Deborah Harry.

I had the honour of visiting Belgium during 2007 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our brand’s presence in the market – and to support young and upcoming designers. It was really amazing to see how much creative talent the country has. During my visit I stayed at De Witte Lelie in Antwerp (; it was particularly nice to sit in the beautiful garden of this boutique hotel.

The bar at Sketch in London’s Mayfair is one of my favourite places to drink in Europe.
This place is definitely worth a visit.

I spend a lot of time at my company’s European headquarters in Amsterdam, and I like to go to Restaurant De Kas for a quick lunch. It’s a former greenhouse, hidden away in a park, which has been converted into a restaurant that has its own garden where vegetables, herbs and edible flowers are grown.

My most unforgettable travel experience was my visit to Uganda earlier this year.
In 2009 Tommy Hilfiger partnered with Millennium Promise, a non-profit organisation founded in 2005 to help end extreme poverty. Through our partnership the brand will contribute over €1.5m to the charity throughout a five-year period, to help eradicate extreme poverty and hunger in Africa by 2015 – with a focus on the impoverished village Ruhiira, in Uganda.

I went to Ruhiira to see first-hand the living conditions and struggles the villagers face. At the same time it was really amazing to see all the improvements that Millennium Promise has made since it arrived in 2006, and to see how our contribution really helps to better the lives of the villagers. I can safely say that it was truly an overwhelming experience that I will not soon forget.

Throughout my life there have been many inspirational figures that I looked up to.
As a kid I was greatly inspired by my rock icons: Mick Jagger, Pete Townshend, Jimmy Page and David Bowie. They were very instrumental, as their rock style pushed me to pursue a career in fashion. I often say, if it wasn’t for rock ‘n’ roll I wouldn’t have become a fashion designer.

I believe in working hard and playing hard.
When it comes to my work, I have always been very dedicated. I didn’t just become a successful international fashion designer overnight; it took years of hard work to reach this current level of success. I also value taking time out to relax and be with loved ones. Family is very important to me and I love spending my free time with them as much as possible.

Next year I look forward to carrying on bringing my classic American cool designs to consumers around the world.
In addition to this I hope to continue my philanthropic activities through the Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation, which I established in 1995. Since then I have had the privilege to support a number of charities, including the Martin Luther King Memorial Foundation, UNICEF and Breast Health International. I particularly look forward to generating awareness for Millennium Promise and encouraging business leaders and consumers to join the fight against poverty in my new role as Millennium Promise’s first Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Global Leader.

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