When Tommy Hilfiger launched his first signature menswear collection in 1984, his updated take on button-down shirts, chinos, and other time-honored classics immediately struck a chord with consumers. In less than two years, the line had netted $11 million. Today, his collections include an entire range of products to suit all the lifestyle needs of the modern consumer. The Tommy Hilfiger brand has become a symbol of the all-American spirit and continues to be regarded as one of the most recognized global lifestyle brands. Hilfiger was born the second of nine children in Elmira, a small town in upstate New York. In 1969, while still in high school, he began his retail career with $150 and 20 pairs of bell-bottom jeans. Soon after, he opened his own small chain of stores called People's Place. Self taught, he began designing the clothes that his customers wanted, but could not find.
In 1979, Hilfiger moved to New York City to pursue a career as a fashion designer. He introduced his first signature collection in 1984 and has since expanded the brand's product offerings and distribution to include menswear, womenswear, jeanswear, childrenswear, related licensed products, fragrance, and home collections.
The fashion industry has bestowed numerous honors on Hilfiger. In 1998, Parsons School of Design in New York City honored him with their Designer of the Year award, as did GQ magazine for their annual "Men of the Year" issue. In 1995, he was named Menswear Designer of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). That same year, he received VH1's "From the Catwalk to the Sidewalk" award at their annual Fashion and Music Awards. He has also won several FiFi Awards, the fragrance industry's most illustrious honor. In November 2002, he was selected as GQ magazine's International Designer of the Year award recipient in Germany. That same month, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) organization presented Hilfiger with the Future of America Award, D.A.R.E.'s highest honor, for his philanthropic efforts for America's youth.
Hilfiger, as honorary chairman and principal designer of the Company, launched the Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation in 1995 to enrich the physical and intellectual well being of youth with a major emphasis on education and cultural programs that impact a diverse population. Hilfiger is actively involved in a number of charities and causes, including the Washington D.C. Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation and the Anti-Defamation League. He has also served on the board of directors for The Fresh Air Fund, a New York based group that has been sending underprivileged children to summer camp since 1877, and the Race to Erase MS (Multiple Sclerosis) since 1994.