Tommy Hilfiger Got His Start Selling Bell-Bottoms Out Of A Car

Everyone has to get their start somewhere, and billionaire fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger got his literally on the streets. Instead of going to design school or apprenticing for a fashion giant, Hilfiger and a high-school buddy sold jeans to their friends out of the trunk of their car.

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Hilfiger told The Daily Telegraph that that was the start of his first foray into the fashion industry: a basement store called People’s Place that eventually grew into a small chain of stores. Hilfiger explains the beginning of his business thus:

What I really wanted was to look like the rock stars, with long hair and of-the-moment clothes. So in 1968, when I was 17, I saved $150 from working in a petrol station and with my friend Larry Stemerman bought 20 pairs of bell-bottomed jeans from the back streets of New York City. We drove them back to Elmira and sold them to our friends out of the boot of our car. A year later we opened the first People’s Place, a basement shop selling all sorts of hippie gear such as incense and candles as well as cool rock’n’roll-inspired clothes like the bell-bottoms … We started out on a shoestring but it became very successful and we subsequently opened a number of People’s Place shops around college campuses in upstate New York.

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Hilfiger goes on to explain that People’s Place was successful for a few years — eventually, real rockstars started shopping there, not just people who wanted to look like them — but the business went under in 1975. Hilfiger came back with his own line in 1985, and today it’s worth billions. Not bad, eh?

[The Telegraph]

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