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Tommy Hilfiger Opens Up About Racial Allegations, Brand's Staying Power At 92nd Street Y

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 03/12/2012 8:11 am Updated: 03/12/2012 8:15 am

Tommy Hilfiger launched his namesake fashion empire nearly 30 years ago, and he shows no signs of slowing down.

In an interview conducted by Fern Mallis at the 92nd Street Y in New York on Thursday, the 60-year-old designer opened up about his brand's staying power (he founded the Tommy Hilfiger corporation in 1984), his early years and what it was like meeting Beyonce.

Hilfiger's empire nets nearly $5 billion in worldwide retail sales -- and he and his wife Dee Ocleppo, who's also a fashion designer, are still living a life of luxury (just check out their swanky Manhattan apartment.)

The designer, who is also the brand new "image advisor" for "American Idol," addresses some race-related controversies he faced in the past:

"We had heard that I was supposedly on “Oprah,” and I had told her that if I had known black people were going to buy my clothes, I wouldn’t have been a designer. I had never been on “Oprah,” and I had never said that. And I would never believe that anyway, nor would I ever say that anyway [...] It was a rumor and a myth. Oprah invited me [to be on the show to deal with it]."

The designer, who sold his company for $1.6 billion in 2006 to a private investing firm, also told Mallis that his famous logo still holds major appeal for shoppers:

"I don’t know if the American flag sells, but our red, white and blue flag sells. Maybe it’s because it looks like the French flag or the British flag. The American relaxed, casual look resonates very well worldwide. It is almost a uniform in many countries."

Click over to WWD to read what Hilfiger thinks of his American cohort Ralph Lauren.

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