Hilfiger creates an empire on $150 and a dream

“When I was a teenager growing up in Elmira, I had a dream. And the dream was to become a designer and build my own brand,” related Tommy Hilfiger to Women’s Wear Daily for an April 5 profile. Jump-starting that dream early, Hilfiger went into the jeans business with his friend Larry Stemerman as a high school student.

“We each put $150 in a kitty and drove to New York City in a Volkswagen Beetle and bought 20 pairs of bell-bottoms from the streets of the Village — Saint Mark’s Place — and brought them back to the schoolyard and basically sold them to our friends,” recalled the designer.

During Tommy Hilfiger‘s career, which has spanned more than 40 years, he has sold everything from bell bottoms to blazers to button-downs. The prep school prince, whose first shop was People’s Place in upstate New York, now has an international brand that benefits celebrity endorsements from the likes of Britney Spears, David Bowie and the Rolling Stones.

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