THE STYLE SECRETS OF TORY BURCH
FROM THE INSIDE SOURCE
In less than a decade, TORY BURCH has become a fashion legend.
First, there was her ballerina slipper. Her demure flats with the big gold T medallion quickly displaced a certain red soled stiletto among the world’s well heeled.
The appeal is clear.
TORY’S clothes are glamorous yet accessible to different ages and body types. The woman behind the label is a warm attractive mother with a window into the privileged life she packages and sells. The image TORY reflects – crackling smarts and ambition wrapped in a veneer of glamour – is real.
An Ivy League grad, she grew up in Pennsylvania, attending private school and riding lessons before going to work in fashion public relations for RALPH LAUREN and VERA WANG.
Now TORY is the boss and building her own global empire. In the midst of her rapid expansion, she shared some style tips and fashionable eBay picks.
THE INSIDE SOURCE: What inspired you to start your company?
TORY BURCH: After years working in the fashion industry and as a customer, I noticed there was a gap in the market. I wanted to create a collection that was not only beautifully made, but also accessibly priced.
I wanted to offer women classic American sportswear that is luxurious, eclectic and sophisticated at a price they could understand. We approach every season and category thinking about what women need and what they want. We strive to offer them everything in that spectrum, including ready to wear, shoes, bags, jewelry and sunglasses.
TIS: The Reva has to be one of the hottest fashion accessories of the last five years. How many have you sold and why did you name the shoe after your Mum? What role does your Mum play in your company and your success?
TB: My mother Reva has been a huge influence in my life both personally and professionally. She is always so supportive of me and is a constant source of inspiration in our collections. She has always been my good luck charm, so it is fitting that the shoe I named after her has become a favourite.
TIS: You travel a lot. How often do you travel for business and pleasure? You were travelling when we did this interview. How do you pack? Is it a chore or easy to do now?
TB: I have been travelling quite frequently of late, most recently for our flagship opening in Seoul. My boys and are I are about to go on a trip to Peru, though. I can’t wait to spend time together just the four of us.
Packing is easiest when you edit yourself, so I like to bring chic, easy pieces that are versatile — things I can layer and wear day to evening. No matter where I am going, I always bring tailored jeans, cardigans, a blazer and printed dresses. They are all pieces you could wear during the day, but also dress up in the evening with a bold piece of jewelry or a high heel.
TIS: What are the essential pieces for a woman’s wardrobe today?
TB: A printed dress, a classic trench, a blazer, jeans that are the perfect fit for you — and of course, to complete any look — a bold piece of jewelry like a metallic cuff or statement necklace.
TIS: What do you love to wear for summer?
TB: I like to wear classic silhouettes or monochromatic dresses mixed with something eclectic or to mix prints and colors in unusual ways. I also make sure I have the right pair of sunglasses, whether it’s an aviator or oversized frame in my bag.
TIS: What are your inspirations in life?
TB: My parents Reva and Buddy are a constant source of inspiration for me. They were such a chic couple with an effortless, elegant way of dressing.
When designing a collection, my design team and I find inspiration in so many different places. We often reference pictures of my parents traveling in Morocco and Greece in the 60s and 70s. We are also influenced by our own travels and everything from works of art and architecture to music and movies. For fall, for example, we were inspired by Picasso’s Mosqueteros exhibit and Gerhard Richter’s abstract paintings.
TIS: What were your inspirations for the fall collection? How is fall different to spring and summer for you?
TB: For fall, we thought about that cool girl who you see in galleries – the one who has an amazing sense of style and puts pieces together in new, interesting ways. The colour palette was inspired by Picasso’s Mosqueteros exhibit and Gerhard Richter’s abstract paintings. Neutral colors were played against bright splashes of red and blue. Fall is all about balancing a utilitarian edge with something feminine, like an oilcloth coat worn with a sequined top.
With every collection, we really try to offer our customers something new – something that is going to elicit an emotional response and get her excited to take it home and make it her own. We do have pieces that are our classics, like the tunic and cardigans, but we vary the prints and colours. Mixed in with these are pieces that really speak to the inspiration of the season, whether it’s a print, a color or a certain silhouette.
TIS: How much of a collector are you and what if anything do you collect? What are your three favourite things this year? What’s grabbed your attention or what are you eager to read, buy, see or hear, for instance?
TB: I collect vintage books and recently found an antique fishing book for my brother who is an avid fisher. My mother and I also love searching for pieces of Imari porcelain together.
I’ve had the chance to see really amazing exhibits in the past few months — the Picasso exhibit at the Met, Louise Bourgeois’ sculptures at the LeeUm Samsung Museum Of Art in Seoul and the Yves Saint Laurent exhibit at Paris’ Petit Palais. All extraordinary, all inspiring.
TIS: Your website is hailed as a template for other fashion and lifestyle businesses. Were you a big internet user before you started it? How do you use the internet in your life?
TB: We have an incredible team of editors and designers who I work with on the website content. It’s a great place to open a dialogue with our customers and to share things — artists, books, movies — anything that we think is interesting. We want our customer to feel like she is part of something special and exclusive.
Twitter was a learning curve for me, but I have a lot of fun with it now and it’s a great way to keep in touch with customers. We’ve had an incredible response on Facebook, too. It’s been a new, exciting way to offer customer service — our fans are vocal and involved and we know immediately what we’re doing right and wrong. Having that instant connection is fantastic.
TIS: To what extent do you or your staff shop or research on eBay?
TB: It is a great place to find lost treasures. Where else can you find so much Ossie Clark or vintage Liberty prints?
TIS: Opening shops abroad, launching your foundation collection…What’s next? What will you be opening, promoting this year? What’s at the top of your list and why?
TB: Right now, we are very excited to be expanding globally. We plan to open our first European boutique in Rome this fall, followed by London. We are continuing to grow in Asia, too, which is incredible — two stores opening in Japan and our first freestanding boutiques in Hong Kong and Taiwan. We are also continuing to grow in the US. We are so grateful for the support our customers have shown us everywhere.
We are also continuing to evolve the collection and grow our categories. For fall, we are launching a full denim collection with a range of looks, rinses and styles for everyone. We also expanded our jewelry and children’s collection.