to Bruce Springsteen to Sheryl Crow
, who last summer inked a deal to sport his designs on tour. On any city street on any given day, there's a parade of primary-hued athletic wear emblazoned with Hilfiger's logo. His clothes became the uniform of urban youth in 1994, after Snoop Doggy Dogg wore an oversize Hilfiger shirt on Saturday Night Live, and are now the rage on campus and in country clubs. As Harry Connick Jr. says, "Tommy's clothes are American, unique and contemporary." And, adds industry forecaster Kurt Barnard, "they're unlikely to go out of style. Other designers who are subject to the whims of fashion are taking it on the chin." Hilfiger, who expects to post retail sales of more than $2 billion this year, credits his success to "listening to the customer. We're inclusive, not exclusive."
Though critics see Hilfiger, 46, who began his line in 1985, as nothing but a marketer, they concede that at marketing he is a wizard. "He was smart enough to see a niche," says fashion consultant Alan Millstein, "and he rushed to fill it." Hilfiger, who has heaped free clothes upon the likes of Mick Jagger and Sean "Puffy" Combs, recently opened a gargantuan store in Beverly Hills and published a style book, All American. He moved into kidswear this year and saw sales of his fledgling women's line explode. Still to come: a home collection, toiletries and pricier women's clothes. And though he lives in a 22-room Greenwich, Conn., farmhouse with his wife, Susie, a children's boutique owner, and their four kids, the king of laid-back cool stays in touch with the masses. "Everyone," he says, "wants to be comfortable, casual and have fun."
SOME DAYS IT SEEMS THAT EVERYONE WEARS Tommy Hilfiger. It's not just the army of celebs—from