On March 24 in the year 1951, one of the world’s most recognizable fashion designers was born in New York, USA. His name is Thomas Jacob “Tommy” Hilfiger, the founder of the company that bears his name. Various estimates of his net worth runs from $400 to $450 million.
Tommy Hilfiger was the second of nine children of a watch maker father and a nurse mother. After finishing high school, he went to work for a clothing store in tourist haven Cape Cod of Massachusetts. In 1971, he opened his first clothing store with $150 as starting capital. He called his store “People’s Place”. He also started to make sketches on the type of clothing he wanted his store to carry. It was successful in the first six years. In 1977, his ten stores were closed due to financial difficulties. Though it was painful for him, he recognized his setback as temporary and realized that he learned a lot of lessons, perhaps more than what an MBA could offer. To make sure he won’t repeat the same mistakes in the future, he enrolled in short business courses. He then travelled to New York and worked for several different labels.
In 1979, Tommy Hilfiger established a clothing design business which he called Tommy Hill. It was short-lived, however. He went on to learn how to design jeans and women’s clothing, finding employment here and there including a short stint with Calvin Klein.
In 1985, Tommy Hilfiger, Inc. was formed with the financial backing of businessman Mohan Murjani. Now married, Tommy vowed to make the business succeed. He recruited designers and executives from other fashion houses and invested precious capital in advertising his business. After some profitable years, the company held an IPO in 1992. With an enlarged capital, he opened more branches and proceeded to licensed Pepe Jeans USA which gave his company more brands to distribute.
In 2006, Hilfiger sold his company for $1.6 billion to Apax Partners, who in turn sold it to Phillips-Van Heusen for $3 billion in 2010.
Tommy Hilfiger married twice and has five children.