I became aware of Tory Burch some years back when I read about her spectacular apartment in the Pierre Hotel and the launch of her first retail store at 257 Elizabeth Street in Manhattan.
Since I’m always interested in entrepreneurs and how they live and work I decided to take a walk down to Elizabeth Street and see the new boutique. When I saw it, the word that came to mind was “dazzling”. The store stood out from its surroundings because of its polish and sophistication. I was stunned by the glamorous tangerine orange front door and the smart interior.
The smashing orange door at the Tory Burch store
There’s been a lot written about the soaring success of Tory Burch but one of the best pieces I’ve read recently is by Rob Haskell. It appeared in Vogue magazine, August 2015 with photographs by Bruce Weber.
The profile starts with a great photograph of Burch taken with her six children: (three sons and three stepdaughters) at her Southampton home. In the ensuing interview Haskell writes, “It’s hard to empire-build politely, but she has managed it, delivering one of the world’s most successful fashion brands, now valued at around $3.5 billion, in little more than a decade.”
After college, Burch began her career in New York by working at a series of fashion jobs at Harper’s Bazaar, Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang and LVMH. In 2001 she married entrepreneur Chris Burch, gave birth to three boys and took on the role of stepmother to her husband’s three daughters.
She recalls that in the first article about her, in 2004 in The New York Times, she told the writer that the word ambitious bothered her. “A friend of mine called me up after that and said, “You should never shy away from that word.” After thinking about this she says, “I now have no problem saying I’m ambitious.”
Tory Burch shoes are seen everywhere in New York
Her business is quite a spectacular feat for a woman with no design background and who didn’t go to Parsons or grow up creating mood boards in her bedroom. What she has instead is a talent for divining the wishes of her customer.
During New York’s Fashion Week (Thursday, September 10 to Thursday September 17) Burch is launching a new brand called Tory Sport, a collection of stylish tennis ensembles, sleek tracksuits, golf wear and all manner of après-sport clothes. Her Elizabeth Street store will become a Tory Sport pop-up shop.
Counting her recently opened Paris flagship, Burch now has 160 boutiques around the world, with Santiago, Cairo and Prague on the way. She is now, according to Forbes, a billionaire.
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