Tory Burch has seemingly been everywhere lately — in our stores, on our customers, and certainly on our customers’ wish lists. And, quite literally, she’s been here, in North Carolina, making waves earlier this month when she visited one of her store locations in Charlotte for a private event hosting some 150 of her top customers. Reportedly, Ms. Burch met every single one of the attendees, delighting local fashionistas with both her powerful position in the world of fashion, as well as her humble, down-to-earth presence. And maybe that’s the secret high and low combination that has made her eponymous brand so very, very popular with American women: Stylish, but approachable. Preppy, but bohemian. Impressive, but so easy to wear.
Raised in Pennsylvania, in a Main Line Philadelphia family, Tory Burch grew up surrounded by the waspy East Coast fashions of her peers as well as the somewhat eccentric tastes of her stylish parents. Rather than pursuing fashion school, she majored in Art History at the University of Pennsylvania before moving to Manhattan for a career in PR, eventually working for the likes of Ralph Lauren and Vera Wang. It was this unusual experience in fashion marketing, a desire to expand her horizons after motherhood, and the intuition and financial push of her entrepreneur (and one-time sweater salesman) then-husband, Chris Burch, that inspired Tory to open her first store in 2004. It didn’t take long before she nearly sold out of her inventory, gaining some high profile celebrity fans, including Beyoncé and Oprah Winfrey.
In a city already saturated with quirky designer women’s boutiques, the immediate success of the NYC-based Tory Burch label seemed surprising, but Tory, to her credit, had wisely managed to tap into a previously untapped market. Her clothing was modern enough for contemporary working women, but simultaneously nostalgic, appealing to a 30 and 40-something crowd that reminisces about what their mothers wore in the 1960’s and 70’s. At the same time, Tory Burch has a simplicity that appeals to level-headed fashion-seekers that take pride in their finds. The label is expensive, but not too expensive, and the pieces are easy to incorporate into practically any wardrobe. After all, it was a basic pair of ballet flats (featuring the iconic double-T logo, of course) that first won over fans.
Recently, Tory Burch has been gaining attention for entirely different reasons. Her 2006 divorce from husband Chris sparked press interest in his removal from the Tory Burch company, and possibly litigious desire to pursue a fashion line of his own. In 2011, Chris launched his label, C. Wonder, and opened his first boutique in New York’s SoHo neighborhood. Some noted that his less-expensive products (as well as his company’s “C” logo) bore a startling resemblance to Tory’s. The feud over creative property and Chris’ role in the Tory Burch company led to a 2012 court battle between the ex-spouses. Chris Burch is also currently overseeing and financing other fashion lines, including Trademark, a label helmed by two of his daughters from a previous marriage. Trademark’s first store is scheduled to open in early August in New York, just blocks from a planned site for a new Tory Burch flagship store.
It’s difficult to say whether her ex’s actions will eventually erode the label’s image or take away potential customers, but it seems unlikely that Tory Burch devotees have any plans to turn their backs on the fashion line that they fell in love with 10 years ago. Most recently, Tory designed a series of housings for the Fitbit, and customer enthusiasm for Tory Burch products seems as strong as ever. We certainly love her label’s unique charm and timeless appeal, and we’re eager to see what the future has in store for the fashion maven and queen of boho prep.