by Stephen Garner

Elmira College will launch a new academic program, as part of its bachelor’s degree in business administration, in partnership with Elmira, New York natives and siblings, Andy, Betsy, and Tommy Hilfiger.  Named after the American fashion icon, the Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Business School will combine business education with real-world fashion industry experience.

Scheduled to begin in fall 2021, the new program will offer a concentration and minor in fashion marketing and fashion merchandising. Students within fashion merchandising will explore the merchandising needs of a marketplace through research, design, data collection, and analysis. Fashion marketing will train students on how to research, collect and analyze data and develop marketing and communications strategies to launch brands in the marketplace.

Tommy Hilfiger, principal designer of Tommy Hilfiger Global and a legend in the global fashion industry, has deep roots in the Elmira area. An Elmira native, his entrepreneurial career began with his first local store in 1969, People’s Place, and eventually blossomed into founding one of the world’s most recognizable lifestyle brands. Hilfiger and his family have maintained their connection to the community through their work and philanthropy.

“The partnership with Elmira College reflects much more than my personal connection to the area,” said Tommy Hilfiger. “The fashion industry runs on a never-ending influx of new talent, and this program will be instrumental in shaping aspiring designers and entrepreneurs through first-hand knowledge and experience in the business. Elmira College has a national reputation for experiential learning in and out of the classroom, and this new program will open up exciting career opportunities for students as well as boost the industry’s talent pool.”

“Elmira College’s business administration program has had a long relationship with the Hilfiger family,” added Betsy Hilfiger. “We are looking forward to even greater collaboration and bringing real fashion industry expertise to the classroom through internship experiences with us and other fashion houses.”

“Guest lectures and internships through the Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Business School will connect students with icons in the fashion industry,” commented Andy Hilfiger. “That interaction gives students an opportunity not available in a classroom setting. It’s a chance to learn about, not only the daily operations of the fashion industry, but also the history, the people, and the deep connections it has to other industries, such as the music industry.”

The creation of integrated programs like the Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Business School is part of the College’s strategic plan to introduce industry-level knowledge to the next generation while preserving the essence of a liberal arts education.

“We know we need to adjust to the changing needs of a global workplace, as well as student expectations of a comprehensive educational experience,” said Dr. Charles Lindsay, president of Elmira College. “Tomorrow’s workforce will be more complex than ever before. Programs and partnerships, like the Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Business School, enables us to bridge a liberal arts education with professional studies and pave a path to success for our students. We are grateful to have the support of the Hilfiger family, and look forward to welcoming our first students to the program in the fall of 2021.”

Founded in 1855, Elmira College is a private, residential, liberal arts college offering 35-plus majors, an honors program, 17 academic societies, and 18 Division III varsity teams.  Located in the Southern Finger Lakes Region of New York, Elmira’s undergraduate and graduate student population hails from more than 20 states and nine countries. The College is also home to the Center for Mark Twain Studies, one of four historically significant Twain heritage sites in the U.S., which attracts Twain scholars and educators from around the world for research on the famous literary icon.