Global style icon by Tory Burch
Source Sky Delta Magasine
Global style icon, consummate New Yorker and all-American girl. Tory Burch is all that and more, wrapped into one lovely, talented and very savvy package.
HAL RUBENSTEIN, MAY 2014
I’m sure she has her moments, but have you ever seen a picture of Tory Burch where she doesn’t seem enveloped in the essence of serenity? In fact, it’s hard to imagine her ever trucking after a taxi, racing out from spin class with wet hair, eating on the run or ever losing her cool—just a few of the frantic, normal behavioral traits common to many New Yorkers. But don’t be misled by the low-decibel tones, the beckoning half-smile or ever-placid demeanor that betray her Philadelphia mainline breeding (think Grace Kelly or Katharine Hepburn as Tracy Lord in The Philadelphia Story). Tory Burch commands ownership of the two key traits all New Yorkers must have to succeed: She trusts her gut, and she is fearless.
Against popular wisdom, Burch opened her first freestanding store in 2004, the same year she launched her business on Manhattan’s Elizabeth Street, in the very-now-but-so-not-then flocked-to neighborhood of Nolita, east of Soho. Few would have bet on this location as a game/set/match for a fledgling clothing line getting press for its beaded cardigans, Nantucket-friendly boho tunics and citrus-hued flats sporting her now instantly recognizable double T logo. But at the close of its opening day, the new shop had been nearly stripped clean. “My initial five-year plan was to have three freestanding stores,” Burch says. “Maybe a few more, just as long as we grew organically.”
It turns out the lady has a Kelly green thumb. Ten years later, Burch’s affordable, aspirational and often adorable approach to contemporary luxury spans a network of more than 120 stores across North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, with plans for further global expansion, and annual sales approaching $1 billion.
“It’s going well,” Burch says with the same satisfied reserve that other women might acknowledge a well-attended lawn party. But like the savviest of New Yorkers, Burch exhibits another enviable trait: She never shows her hand or her sweat. Around this town, that’s the mark of a winner.
Photo by Sean Davies.
HAL RUBENSTEIN: Your success was almost instantaneous. Did you know it would take off so quickly?
TORY BURCH: Yes, it was a rapid trajectory, and I admit we did begin with high hopes, if because I was so eager to make money to create our foundation [which supports female entrepreneurs]. But it was a tremendous amount of work to find that one opening, that niche where we knew we would fit. We specifically targeted that particular customer who wanted fine crafted things that didn’t cost a fortune. We knew that woman was out there, but didn’t want to wait for her to come to us. We decided we’d have to reach out directly to her.
What attracted you to this particular customer?
Like minds, perhaps. As a woman, it’s natural to want to design the clothes that I personally want to wear, because they suit my work, they suit my life, they suit my age. And in doing so, you want to celebrate and incorporate the inspirations that excite and inspire you.
What are those inspirations?
New York City plays such an important part because of its intense energy and the constant diversity of people you find everywhere you go. Also, music, culture and fashion are so seamlessly interwoven in life in Manhattan. You are surrounded by art and innovation. They are not saved for special occasions.
But you are not a native New Yorker?
No, I’m from outside Philadelphia, which is another city I will always love because it’s home, and it’s a city that has a more casual way of doing things. Life there is also about being outside. With three boys, it’s impossible to imagine not spending lots of time outdoors. Surround yourself with nature and you can’t help but think about colors and prints and fabrics with an easy flow.
What’s the best/worst of living in New York?
The best is the convenience of being in the middle of the most exciting city in the world. The worst is having been brought up on a farm in Pennsylvania, so I know my three boys need to be outside more often.
Do other cities play a factor in design?
Yes, but in a more imaginary way. I remember as a child hearing my mom and dad talk about their travels, and I would run to books to see pictures of these exotic places. I do love to travel—on my last vacation I was enchanted by Myanmar, and my sons were thrilled to be at Machu Picchu—but you don’t have to run around the globe to get excited by the colors, fabrics and textures of other cultures. I fell in love with the style of Deauville in the ’60s for our spring 2014 collection, but I’ve never been there. Then again, Deauville today is very different than it was in the ’60s.