There was a time in Hip Hop history when you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing Tommy Hilfiger. The red, white, and blue striped design was worn by the who’s who of entertainment, from film and television stars to sports icons to Hip Hop and R&B’s elite. For those who lived through that Golden Era of the culture, they will recall when Aaliyah was one of the most famous faces of the brand. In a recent interview, Hilfiger discussed Russell Simmons explaining to him why his brand was so popular in Hip Hop.

“It was so powerful, like an infusion or some sort of a drip,” said Hilfiger, 71. “I was so profoundly inspired by Warhol. I started to look at things like the Rolling Stones tongue, the Nike swoosh, the Mercedes-Benz star, the Chanel Cs and the Gucci Gs [and] I knew I needed my own logo.” In the 1990s, Hilfiger became one of—if not the most—successful brands from the U.S. According to the Irish Times, these days, the brand makes more money outside of America.

Russell Simmons Enlightens Hilfiger

NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 10: Russell Simmons and Tommy Hilfiger backstage at Tommy Hilfiger Presents Fall 2014 Women’s Collection on February 10, 2014 in New York, United States. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

Hilfiger admitted that products flew off the shelves after Aaliyah posed for a Tommy Jeans ad. “The clothes were very inspired by yachting, prep schools, Ivy League, and New England,” said the designer. “Where more aristocratic privileged Americans lived and summered in Cape Cod, Nantucket and the Hamptons. It was actually Russell Simmons, who really is one of the godfathers of Hip Hop, who said to me that young street kids and rappers wanted to wear the clothes because they wanted to look rich.”

He did what any good businessman would, and he catered to his new audience. Hilfiger said he focused on street styles because Hip Hop “love sports and wanted to be sporting.” He added, “So then I started doing big logos. But they wanted everything way, way oversized, because they were buying sizes that were way too large. And so I started just making oversized, and it was a perfect storm. I was dressing Puff Daddy for his tours, I was dressing Biggie Smalls, I was dressing Tupac.”

The Fake News Scandal That Changed Tommy Hilfiger

These days, fact-checking fake news comes with a click of a button. However, in 1997, things were a bit different when it came to sharing lies about public figures. At the time, a story circulated that Hilfiger visited Oprah Winfrey’s talk show and disparaged marginalized people. He was accused of saying if he knew minority groups would love his clothing, he wouldn’t have made them so nice. It was also alleged he stated he didn’t want anyone but upper-class white people to purchase his clothing.

However, it was all a lie. The conversation and appearance never happened, but Hilfiger’s name was permanently scarred. “It was when the internet was just starting,” Hilfiger recalled. “It was devastating that people would think that I would really think that way. And I think people who know me knew that it wasn’t true. But there are so many millions of people out there who didn’t know me but had heard. You didn’t have social media then – these days, if something blows up on [the fashion watchdog] Diet Prada, there are so many comments. It couldn’t happen now.”