ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) -- Renowned fashion designer and Elmira native Tommy Hilfiger was back in town, this afternoon. The Hilfiger family went to Elmira College to talk about the fashion industry and what it takes to be successful in the business. 

“I love Elmira,” Tommy Hilfiger said. “I love coming home.” 

Hilfiger and his siblings developed the Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Business School at Elmira College. The program first welcomed students in 2022.

“I thought it was important that we teach the students the business of fashion,” he said. 

Hilfiger stepped into the world of fashion around 1969 when he took $150 to New York City to buy 20 pairs of bell-bottom jeans. He returned to Elmira to sell them out of the trunk of his car. Then, he set up his first shop called "The People's Place" in Downtown Elmira. 

Hilfiger has learned a lot of lessons along the way. He said they are lessons he wants to pass on to the next generation. 

“...because there are many different facets to it,” he said. “There's merchandising, there's buying, there's retail store development, there's design. There are all sorts of different aspects of it but the most important is to really understand the entire business.” 

During Hilfiger's visit, he made sure to connect with students one-on-one. 

“I think it's important to have the personal connection with the students because maybe in class...they wouldn't hear some of the things we're talking about,” he said. “I gave them more of an in depth thought process.” 

Hilfiger said the overall goal of today's visit was to show students the importance of creativity and a smart business mind. 

“I hope many of them will take some of my advice to heart,” he said. “They seemed very enthused and very excited about the program, so I'm really satisfied and very happy and very proud.”