Thomas Jacob Hilfiger (born March 24, 1951) is an American fashion designer and founder of the premium lifestyle brand Tommy Hilfiger Corporation. Hilfiger was born in Elmira, New York. The second of nine children of a jeweler and an Irish-American nurse, he grew up in a German-Swiss/Irish-American family. Hilfiger also claims direct descendence from the Scottish poet Robert Burns. His parents originally intended for him to be an engineer. He attended the Elmira Free Academy for high school. He also attended GST BOCES Bush Campus in Elmira, New York for machine shop trades. Rather than furthering his education, he started to work in retail at the age of 18. Hilfiger would go to New York City to buy jeans and bell-bottom pants, which he customized and resold at Brown's, a local downtown Elmira store. He later opened his own store, named The People's Place, around the block in downtown Elmira.