Tommy Hilfiger

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Almost all of the dyslexics we’ve looked at so far in the series have been very creative – whether their creativity involves writing stories, making films, or designing helicopters! This week we’ll be looking at a creative dyslexic who fuses together the worlds of business and design.

Who is Tommy Hilfiger?

When someone says ‘Tommy Hilfiger’, you will probably think of the brand name rather than of an actual person. Thomas Jacob Hilfiger himself is 62, is descended from the Scottish poet Robert Burns (perhaps ‘Tommy Hilfiger Edinburgh’ didn’t have the same ring as ‘New York’) - and is dyslexic.

Although his parents wanted him to attend college and follow a traditional career path, Hilfiger left education at the age of eighteen and began working in retail selling customised jeans. He later went on to open his own store called ‘The People’s Place’.

What is Tommy Hilfiger best known for?

Hilfiger founded the Tommy Hilfiger Corporation in 1984, which went public in 1992 and quickly became known for its menswear collection. The Tommy Hilfiger logo, a red, white, and blue rectangle, is world-recognised. In 1995, the Council of Fashion Designers of America named Hilfiger as the Menswear Designer of the Year.

Appropriately for such an all-American designer, Hilfiger has also made use of his fashion expertise in the world of reality television. In 2005 he was part of a show called The Cut which followed contestants as they competed for a designing job. If this wasn’t enough, in 2012, he was announced as the fashion consultant for American Idol.

What has Tommy Hilfiger said about his dyslexia?

"I performed poorly at school and was perceived as stupid because of my dyslexia. I still have trouble reading. I have to concentrate very hard at going left to right, left to right, otherwise my eye just wanders to the bottom of the page."

Although Hilfiger never attended college, he claims that his lack of business or design training was advantageous in terms of marketing. Hilfiger believes that it was because he thought differently to other designers that he was able to make his brand stand out from the crowd.

Are there any other fashion designers with dyslexia?

Other fashion designers with dyslexia include Paul Smith and Gwen Stefani (who is better known for her music career). To see a list of dyslexic business men and women, check out our post on entrepreneur Anita Roddick.

Next week will be the final post in our dyslexia series. We are planning an article about a man with a rather one-of-a-kind job – can you guess who it might be? We’ll give you a clue: he is due to become a grandfather next month…

Send your guesses to us via Facebook or Twitter, or feel free to leave a comment below!



17 Jun 2013
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