In an interview on campus, Tommy Hilfiger said, “With a diploma from a school such as this, it will open a lot of doors for you in this industry.”
Hilfiger was on campus on Oct. 11 for PhilaU’s Focus on Fashion series, “A Conversation with Fashion Icon Tommy Hilfiger,” which drew a crowd of more than 800 people in The Gallagher Center.
Hilfiger was introduced before a Q&A session with the University community by PhilaU alumnus Allen Sirkin ’64, president and chief operating officer of PVH Corp., the parent company of the Tommy Hilfiger brand. “We are blessed to have Tommy Hilfiger in our stable of brands,” Sirkin said. “He is proof that if you stay focused, you can achieve what you set out to do.” Hilfiger was then interviewed by Fashion Industries Association President Casey Lamke, a senior fashion industries management student, in a discussion of his experience in the fashion industry.
“I wasn’t an overnight success,” he told the crowd. Hilfiger started in the fashion industry with $150 he had saved from working nights at a gas station in Elmira, N.Y., his hometown. “I grew up wanting to be a rock star, but I wasn’t musically inclined. You wouldn’t want to hear me try to play the guitar,” Hilfiger said. Instead, he decided to dress like one. When his friends asked where he got his clothes, he used his savings to buy jeans from Greenwich Village in New York City and sold them out of the trunk of his car.
Watch video from Tommy Hilfiger’s vist courtesy of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Hilfiger emphasized that his rise to the top was not without setbacks. He was forced to declare Chapter 11 at the age of 23, and he was fired from his first full-time design job. He said that many doors were closed to him because he never went to college.
“Learn the basics of design and the balance between design and business,” he said, “And then find out what you want to do. If you do what you love, you will be successful.”
Before the Q&A, Hilfiger toured the campus and the fashion studios in Hayward Hall. “I am incredibly impressed with the breadth of it all, the depth and strength of your fashion programs.” He said he has toured many fashion schools and PhilaU is one of the best schools he has seen. “When you graduate, you will take your education with you forever,” Hilfiger said.