Tommy was a trendsetter in high school, and that inspired him to get into the fashion biz:
We wore long hair and bell-bottoms to school, and the other kids wanted to look like us. So a couple of friends and I decided to open a shop while we were still in high school. We pooled together $150 each and called it People’s Place. We opened with an inventory of 20 pairs of bell-bottoms.
But he partied too hard and bankrupted his first business:
…I went bankrupt when I was 23 years old, and it was like cold water in the face. It was a wake-up call because we had this business, and we had opened about 10 stores and it was going really strong. Then all of the sudden one day we found out we were out of money and bankrupt.
I was in upstate New York. We were opening stores on college campuses. My partners and I were also partying it up at Studio 54 and Max’s Kansas City and hanging out in the city and not really paying attention to the business. So that was a lesson learned.
Tommy doesn’t know that YSL doesn’t make couture anymore:
I’ve never tried to do couture, because it’s a whole different beast. You know, Dior, Saint Laurent, all of the haute couture French designers have these amazing, one-of-a-kind lines. It’s really an art unto itself.
He’s totally jealous of Ralph:
Who am I jealous of? Every time I pass a Ralph Lauren store, I think, I know he’s been in business for more than 40 years and I’ve only been in business for 25, but, boy, do I ever want what he’s got.
I look up to Ralph and have tremendous respect for him. But I have to say, I do get a little jealous.
Well, you know, we’re a lifestyle brand, but we need to add the furniture and home furnishings, so we’ll be trying that now. But ultimately I’d like to open a hotel…. like sort of pop culture, where we could have live bands and a really cool spa. Somewhere you’d want to go hang out.