Tommy Hilfiger Corporation markets menswear, womenswear, and childrenswear designed by Tommy Hilfiger. Hilfiger sells a complete line of clothing from socks to shirts, swimwear, jackets, pants, belts, wallets and ties, as well as sleepwear, golf clothes, eyewear, cosmetics, bedding, and home furnishings. The company operates 15 specialty stores, ten Tommy Jeans stores, a Tommy Hilfiger Children's store, and a dual concept store. Hilfiger also operates 102 company outlet stores that offer branded products as well as out-of-season merchandise. Tommy Hilfiger products, which bear the well known red, white, and blue logo, can also be found in department stores and are marketed in over 55 countries across the globe.
Though the company was not incorporated until 1992, its history properly begins with the fortunes of its namesake, Thomas Jacob (Tommy) Hilfiger. Born in Elmira, New York, in 1951, Hilfiger started his first clothing business while still in high school. He and two friends invested $300 in used blue jeans and sold them out of an Elmira basement. Hilfiger never attended college but built up the blue jean business into a chain of seven upstate New York stores called People's Place. People's Place sold jeans, bell bottom pants, and other clothing, as well as candles, incense, and posters. The stores were successful enough to afford Hilfiger a Porsche, but they were poorly managed. In 1977, People's Place was forced to declare bankruptcy. Hilfiger moved to Manhattan and tried to find work as a clothing designer. Though he had no formal training, he had designed and sold vests and sweaters for People's Place. He worked freelance and then started a sportswear company that went out of business after only one year. He eventually found work designing jeans for Jordache.
In 1984, Hilfiger was contacted by Mohan Murjani, an Indian textile magnate. Murjani owned the license to Gloria Vanderbilt jeans and had helped spark the craze for designer jeans in the 1970s. Murjani had an idea to update the popular "preppy" look associated with designer Ralph Lauren and give it a younger and more mass appeal. He chose Hilfiger to design the line for his firm, Murjani International. In the beginning, however, marketing was much more important than the actual clothes.
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