Tory Burch CEO On Building The New-Age American Luxury Brand
Creating a niche space for one’s designs and brand in the bullish fashion industry is not a piece of cake—unless you are the American entrepreneur and designer, Tory Burch. A hearty philanthropist, Tory Burch has taken global apparel and accessories to new heights. She is the Executive Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of the eponymous brand Tory Burch, which has an estimated sales value of $1.5 billion. Her own net worth stands at $850 million. How did she reach here? Well, the art history grad worked for famous designers before opening a boutique in New York City’s Nolita neighborhood in 2004. The rest, as they say, is history.
Journey From A Small Town
Burch grew up on an idyllic farm in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania but always had a wacky style of her own. She got her first job at Benetton at the King of Prussia Mall. After graduating in art history from the University of Pennsylvania in 1988, Tory started working with the minimalist designer Zoran. Later she went on to work with some of the biggest names in fashion, including Harper’s Bazaar, Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang, and Loewe. Experience and information gathered over the years helped her eventually build her own brand. Today the Tory Burch Designer brand is known for its Bohemian-American preppy style. She has been credited for turning the simple t-shirt into a fashionable clothing item. Once laughed at for her unusual dressing sense, Tory now owns a billion-dollar lifestyle brand spanning apparel, accessories like bags, sunglasses and shoes, home decor, and sportswear.
The gradual climb
Tory Burch launched her first collection from her Manhattan apartment and then through a downtown boutique. Her fashion label was then called ‘TRB by Tory Burch. It was only later in 2004 that she renamed it to ‘Tory Burch.’ By 2013, the growing company had already opened 83 stores worldwide. Today, her clothing line is also included in more than 1000 departmental and specialty stores like Bloomingdales, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Nordstrom.
Inspiration And Strategy: On Building The New-Age American Luxury Brand
Music: Apart from her mentors and learnings, rap music has significantly influenced Tory through her formative years. Tupac was one of her favorites as his lyrics had the quality of speaking for themselves. She, too, wanted her clothes to speak be a form of expression for the wearer.
Team-importance: She likes to believe she is not the smartest person in the room and has complete faith in her team of ‘smarter people.’ She believes in taking inputs, feedback, and ideas from everyone involved, mainly customers.
Logo: Burch’s strategy never consisted of an extravagant full name logo. Her hard decorative T logo on leather handbags and ballet flats is both chic and stylish. Since last February, she has also tried a new style with close-knit Ts enclosed in circles. Burch officially calls it the T Monogram collection and not a logo line. She likes to refer to the wearer as a ‘Tory gal’! Her popular ballet flats are named the Reva after her mother.
Production: Burch intends to provide luxurious yet affordable fashion. She matches the fabric and workmanship of a European luxury brand while incorporating American-style cost efficiencies. Today, she manufactures in countries like Spain, Portugal, and Vietnam, rather than the more expensive France. Therefore, her cost and pricing remain lower than many luxury brands while maintaining the same stature and quality with upgraded design and materials.
Expansion: Tory plans to invest aggressively in digital technology and the supply chain due to the pandemic and some difficult times. She is also expanding her retail store network with plans for 60 new stores in China over the next 3-4 years.
Role: Tory Burch has handed over the leading reins of the company to her husband and former LVMH executive, Pierre-Yves Roussel, who has taken over as the CEO. She wants to concentrate on the aesthetics and creative aspect of her products.
Tory has plenty of feathers in her cap, and below is a list of a few of the awards she has bagged so far:-
- 2005 – The Rising Star Award for Best New Retail Concept from the Fashion Group International.
- 2007 – The Accessory Brand Launch of the year award at the Accessories Council Excellence Awards.
- Consistently on Forbes’ list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.
- 2015 – The 73rd most powerful woman in the world by Forbes and
- 2019 – 23rd on the Forbes list of “America’s Self-Made Women.”
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