Over the years the rumor grew bigger and bigger, causing many people around the world to believe it as the absolute truth.
It has been said the racist remark was made during Hilfiger's appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show, and that the African American host threw him out of her studio. It has also been rumored that Hilfiger added Jews and homosexuals to his black list.
In response to his supposed remarks, consumers around the world, including in the US Jewish community, decided to boycott his products.
'Big fat lie'
The whole thing is ridiculous, Hilfiger told Yedioth Ahronoth. It was just a rumor, he insists. Hilfiger notes that at first the rumor referred to African Americans only, later it went on to mention Hispanics, and eventually even included homosexuals and Jews. Why not cats and dogs too, he jokes.
The fashion designer emphasizes that some of his business partners are Jewish, including his top perfume consultant.
When the rumor reached Oprah, a close friend of the designer, she quickly invited him to her show, where she dismissed all of the accusations. Hilfiger says Oprah publicly stated that she knows him and knows he is not a racist, claiming that the whole story was one big lie.
Even the Anti-Defamation League looked into the issue, publishing an official statement clearing Hilfiger of all accusations made against him. But as rumors have it, this one still affects him and his business to this day. Many consumers still avoid buying his products.
Where does such a rumor come from? Hilfiger says he has many friends in Hollywood and in the music industry who also suffer from such accusations.
He explains that these rumors appear somehow, especially when vulnerable people are concerened, like the ones calling Tom Cruise gay or saying that Will Smith has four heads. Hilfiger thinks that the internet makes it a lot easier for such rumors to travel, but insists that as far as this rumor is concerned it is all just "one a big fat lie."
Hilfiger insists his business has grown over time, and that even this 15-year-old rumor has not hurt him. These days he is celebrating his 25th anniversary in fashion, as one of the leading international designer brands.
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