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Interview with Tommy Hilfiger

MARK VAN HUISSELING meets…

TOMMY HILFIGER

«The book about your past life that you published [with Peter Knobler, a former journalist], is a very open, honest book. Why?» – «I think, when doing something like that, one should do it properly. I have nothing to hide. And if some people don’t like it, they may not buy my clothes anymore. But I don’t think I wrote anything terribly abusive.» (He writes for example that he had a violent father that had often beaten him as a child. Or that at least two of his children had drug problems and that the small son he has with his second wife is autistic.) «The title of the book ‹American Dreamer›, is nice but, with respect, wrong. I perceive you as a doer, a realist … dreamers don’t build companies that they sell for billions.» – «But I had dreams and and my dreams turned into something. I was a dreamer, I am a dreamer; I still dream about what could come next for me.» – «Do you have nightmares?» – «I had some: my bankruptcy, my failure … »

Thomas Jacob Hilfiger, better known as Tommy Hilfiger, 65, from Elmira, New York, is an american fashion designer. What is not described on Wikipedia: Hilfiger is entrepreneur first, the designing of fashion comes in second place. Together with business and financial partners he build his brand that primarily offers clothing in the so called college- or preppy-style (from preparatory school). 2006 Hilfiger sold his shares for 1.6 billion to a holding company; about 5 years later it resold the company to the american fashion group Philips-Van Heusen for about 3 billion. He doesn’t have any noteworthy share in the company anymore and is ambassador of the brand, meaning that he gives interviews, opens shops in important cities, et cetera; the operational chief is the Swiss national Daniel Grieder. Hilfiger is married the second time, has five children of his own plus two stepchildren; his biography «American Dreamer» was published in 2016, I recommend this book.

«You write that one of your managers was partly responsible for the company succeeding again. He was right, others, including yourself, were not for some time. You rarely read that, success mostly isn’t shared …» – «Yes, but it was like that. I have always been supported by people to get ahead. There were and there are unusually strong people in the company.» – «How does one lead employees that are better than oneself?» – «I am very confident with where I am in life – my name is on the logo, I am the creator and visionary behind the brand.» – «But how do you prevent these people from wanting your job?» – «It’s like in sports: You are a group that wants to win. Everybody is willing to do everything for it except cheating. I was the motivator and influencer of the team; I enabled the success, praised and rewarded my people.»

Tommy Hilfiger Gründer (Thomas Jacob Hilfiger)

Tommy Hilfiger (Thomas Jacob Hilfiger)«How important is luck?» – «You need luck to get big. But fortune can be followed by misfortune – we were excessively successful in America in the beginning of the [19]90s but towards the end of the decade we suffered a setback and several partners sold their shares, pulled out … But with good people one can influence luck a little.» – «When you have been in business for four decades, fortunate and less fortunate phases should be distributed evenly, shouldn’t they?» – «I hope so. And then there’s this: A successful career is associated with hard work. You never get to rest, always have to keep going. How do you perfect this or that? What do we do next?» – «Your income in 2016 will reach 33 million dollars; that means during the time we talk you earn 15 000 dollars. But the extrapolated media value of the articles I publish is approximately 100 000 francs or dollars – You are underpaid.» – «Haha, I will tell the CEO, my friend Daniel Grieder.»

Tommy Hilfiger’s favourite restaurant:

Harry’s Bar, Calle Vallaresso 1323, Venice, Italy, phone +39 (0)41 528 5777

 

Interview with Donald Trump

 

MARK VAN HUISSELING about…

DONALD TRUMP

My colleagues liked the idea and i got the job to do a one-on-one-interview with him.

A few years ago I was marginally involved in the development of a newspaper that should be about New York (the principal was Dietrich Mateschitz, the majority owner of Red Bull). Anyway, my thinking was: If New York, then Donald Trump. My colleagues liked the idea and i got the job to do a one-on-one-interview with him. A few dozen days, calls and emails later i had the name and number of Trump’s so called right hand, personal assistant and company spokeswoman. He was, she said, not uninterested. I would just have to show myself flexible – the conversation might happen with little lead time. «No problem», I said, I would take a flight and stand at the reception of the trump tower the next day. Just on the same day would be difficult (it was the year 2007 and the Concorde didn’t fly anymore). About four months and numerous follow-up-actions later my mobile phone rang and on the screen you could see a number starting with +1 212. «Mr. Trump is ready to talk to you», said his right hand. «Tomorrow at 10 o’clock in his office?», I asked. «Are you kidding? In ten minutes on the phone», she replied. It was the best she could do and actually pretty much when considering that Mr. Trump is very busy and anyway barely meets people but rather does virtually everything on the phone. I have just been to Paris to look at the newest fashion but that was irrelevant to all parties involved as it seemed.

Das Interview mit "POTUS" Donald Trump

«Okay, Mark»: President Trump, 70. (Picture: Gage Skidmore)

Ten minutes later – catwalk back, models forth – and only seconds after Mr. Trump’s words of welcome («Hurry up, I got things to do») I shot my first question in his direction: «What would your mother say about you?» – «Okay, Mark, is this some sort of questionnaire?», he asked back and was right. I set up some kind of questionnaire during the last ten minutes; because I thought I would prepare my in-depth interview on the plane above the Atlantic. «Okay, Mark, I don’t have time for this crap, send your points to my assistant.» The next day his answers – actually his, except his «right hand» imitates his style perfectly – were in my mailbox.

Interview Donald Trump

Your Mother would say about you:
that I was difficult but knew what i wanted.

Your first fashion-memory?
Probably my uniform at military school.

How much time do you need to get dressed before you go out?
15 minutes.

Topic of the last table talk?
My son Barron.

The last bigger dispute?
Happened five minutes ago. I am in the office, there’s always beef here.

Your most expensive piece of clothing?
My cashmere coat.

What do you wear on your feet at home?
Clogs.

Your favourite shop?
My daughter’s jewelry store, Ivanka Trump Collection. And the Gucci store in the Trump Tower.

Which title should a portrait about you have?
The man that left behind a huge legacy.

For the last time I repaired something in in one of my houses myself …
Repaired? I changed a light bulb.

First passion?
Building skyscrapers out of toy blocks.

You are not a fan of …
Events where you have to wear a smoking.

A talent people wouldn’t think you have:
Mathematics. In fact I was really good at geometry.

In your suitcase there’s always …
A book. Or multiple books. I like biographies and history books.

The most impressive person in history?
Difficult. Churchill maybe, Lincoln, Aristotle.

How much power do women have?
A lot of power. At least over me, i love women, beautiful women. I also know many beautiful intelligent women. I am blown away by them.

You have an abonnement from
Vanity Fair, Variety, Time, Newsweek, Forbes, Business Week, Fortune … and a lot of newspapers.

Biggest expenditure in the last 12 months?
I bought quite a lot of houses.

I want to be able to …
play tennis and golf.

Wish from the fairy?
That my family continues to do well regarding health and money.

Who is the best architect of all time?
Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright and Philip Johnson who designed my «The Trump International Hotel & Tower» on Central Park West.

The best song of all time?
«New York, New York».

Why are you popular?
Probably because I am rich and famous and honest. And a lot gentler to the people than one might think.

Donald Trump, 70, is the 45th President of the United States of America. He was real estate entrepreneur, TV producer and presenter as well as casino owner. In 2005, the man with the nickname «The Donald» married for a third time. He is father of five children and has lived in New York for most of the time.