Graduate Story: John Freedman '92, Tommy Hilfiger

john freedman

I realized it’s much easier to focus and be dedicated when you have a passion. Dickinson helped me find that passion. —John Freedman '92

John Freedman ’92 has built his career with international fashion brand Tommy Hilfiger across the last 20-plus years, starting as a T-shirt/graphic designer and climbing the ladder to vice president of North American product operations & development. Freedman helped launch the brand’s adaptability line—for people who use wheelchairs and those with prosthetics, movement limitations and other considerations—and is also involved with Tommy Hilfiger’s partnership with the New Jersey Special Olympics.

Tell us about your career.

The culture and atmosphere Tommy (the man) created gave everyone the opportunity for growth, if you had integrity, worked hard and had positive creative energy. I’ve had many different titles and roles, and I’ve seen many different upper-management teams come and go. I continue to stay because I have an old-school loyalty to the brand and especially to my coworkers—I want to see us all succeed no matter what strategy is in place. Everything I know about the business I learned here, and I owe a lot to the company and the man himself. I have traveled the world, had crazy experiences and made great friends.

What was your Dickinson experience like?

I 100% did not take advantage of my academic opportunities. I was unsure what I wanted to do at that point in life, so I majored in sociology thinking it was interesting. It really wasn’t for me. I played lacrosse, enjoyed my fraternity experience. But I absolutely loved my years at Dickinson and have tons of lifelong friends as a result. We had such an epic time. The late ’80s to early ’90s was an absolute blast. To make extra money, I would make T-shirts and sell them around campus. I was a graphic designer but really didn’t know it yet. Steve Smith of L.L.Bean was in my Beta Theta Pi pledge class and fraternity. Two knucklehead athletes become the fashion guys! Who would’ve known?!

How did Dickinson help prepare you for where you are today?

Dickinson challenged me to try and learn new things even though I was unsure of my future plans. This exposure helped guide my post-college moves. The friendships, the team sports experience and even the fraternity parties helped my path. I didn’t mention I also owned a bar for 12 years while also working for Tommy. Dickinson was difficult for me. When I got to art school everything seemed the opposite. Once I continued my education [at the Parsons School of Design], I realized it’s much easier to focus and be dedicated when you have a passion. Dickinson helped me find that passion.


Published November 14, 2022