It’s hard to believe that Tory Burch launched her eponymous label only five years ago.
In 2004, she opened a flagship store in the NoLIta neighborhood of New York City; the boutique, filled with ready-to-wear, handbags, shoes and jewelry, sold out on the first day. In 2005, she was endorsed by Oprah; the following day, toryburch.com received 8 million hits and Oprah’s prediction became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Since then, Tory Burch has become the unofficial outfitter of celebrities and soccer moms alike. With its zesty color palette, striking prints and forgiving cuts, the brand furnishes fashionistas with stylish yet wearable clothing and accessories, sans sticker shock. And her much-imitated Reva ballet slipper are on many a girl’s wardrobe wish-list (including my own).
Recently, I had the much envied opportunity to chat up fashion phenom and fellow Philadelphian, Tory Burch. So if you want to know more about the brainy beauty behind this chic lifestyle brand, try this interview on for size.
SP: When did your fascination with fashion begin?
TB: It would have been impossible not to have developed a passion for fashion and style growing up with my mother and father. They have both always had an amazing and innate sense of style. I did not always dream of being a designer, but I think the fashion industry was a natural fit for me. After over 15 years working in marketing and public relations for great designers like Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang and Narciso Rodriguez, it became clear that my passion was in the design process and I knew it was something I wanted to do.
SP: What was your first big break in the fashion industry?
TB: Eight months after our launch I got a call from a producer at Oprah saying that they were doing a show dedicated to the “next big things” and Oprah wanted to feature the line. I was sure it was some friend of mine making a prank call, but it wasn’t. After going on Oprah’s show everything changed. The day the episode aired we got eight million hits on our website and suddenly women in America seemed to know who we were. It was amazing. I can definitely say we owe a huge part of our success to Oprah’s support.
SP: How would you describe your design aesthetic?
TB: We design timeless yet modern American sportswear with a bohemian sensibility. I design clothes that I want to wear myself and being a working mom I need easy pieces that work well with my busy lifestyle. I think most women can identify with that and they want to look chic and fashionable without having to spend a lot of time putting an outfit together.
SP: In your opinion, what makes a woman stylish?
TB: I think everyone probably has their own idea of what is stylish, but the best guide to looking chic is to focus on what looks well on you. I like to mix unusual colors and prints and have learned what silhouettes suit me the best. I love fashion and pay attention to trends but don’t necessarily always follow them too literally, again I think it’s best to know what works on you. I like when women show their individuality and put a bit of their own personality into their style.
SP: Favorite color combination?
TB: The combination of pink and orange is classic yet unexpected. Our signature 3T print is done in pink and orange on everything from our shopping bags and shoe boxes to flip flops and cosmetic bags. The chairs in our showroom are orange with pink velvet cushions and I love the way they brighten up the space. They are both uplifting and vibrant colors that go well together on everything from accessories to clothing to furniture.
SP: I absolutely adore your double T logo. It’s genius! How did it come about?
TB: We worked with a branding company called MODCO who showed me about 200 different logo designs. I was drawn to the one we chose because it didn’t look like a traditional logo. I see it as more of a design element that we incorporate into our prints and our signature hardware.
SP: Favorite places to shop in Philadelphia?
TB: Anthropologie is one of my favorite places to shop for unique gifts and I love their home section. Blue Mercury has the best selection of candles, lotions and beauty products. They have a mix of both well-known and up and coming brands so I always find something new to try. My step-daughters love to shop at Boyd’s and Skirt. They have great denim brands and a terrific mix of designers at all price points. Neiman Marcus in King of Prussia has everything. Definitely one stop shopping.
SP: What is your everyday beauty routine?
TB: My beauty regime is very easy. I don’t wear a lot of makeup and often leave the house with wet hair. My style is very natural and easy and my beauty regime is similar. Not too much effort goes into it.
SP: What’s the best beauty tip/secret you’ve ever heard?
TB: Protect your skin from the sun.
Tory Burch is available at 16 free-standing Tory Burch boutiques across the US, toryburch.com and over 400 select department and specialty stores worldwide. Follow Tory on Twitter at twitter.com/toryburch.