Have you ever borrowed something from your Mom’s closet? Tory Burch did, and it led her to fashion fame.
It all began with the Reva flat (named for Tory's mother), a simple ballet flat with a double T medallion on the toe. You probably know this piece: After all, it was fashion’s “it” shoe when it came out.
I remember first hearing of Tory Burch in Oprah’s final “Favorite Things” episode, when Oprah gave away matching shoes and bags, emblazoned with that double-T logo. That was back in 2010. Today, Tory Burch is head of a fashion empire, and her success is only growing.
The Tory Story
Tory Burch, then Robinson, was born and raised in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. She remembers an idyllic childhood, in a sprawling mansion with her two fabulous parents and three brothers.
The Robinsons ran in elite social circles. Tory's parents were stylish jet-setters, traveling the globe with Louis Vuitton trunks in tow. Tory’s mother would do a lot of her shopping abroad, which served to influence her daughter's style. For example, Reva often purchased tunics from Morocco, which would later serve as inspiration for some of Tory’s signature products. It was a padded, extravagant lifestyle, the backdrop for Tory Burch’s future endeavors.
Tory once told Women's Wear Daily,
“I always watch my mother, Reva, get dressed at night, and just look incredibly stylish. And my father had his own innate sense of style. He used to design every piece of his clothing and have incredible details, like lining his dinner jackets with Hermes scarves and piping them and all of his shirts with initials. He was one of my biggest, biggest inspirations,”
Tory majored in art history at the University of Pennsylvania. She then moved to New York, where she worked in PR and marketing for brands like Zoran, Vera Wang, Ralph Lauren and Narciso Rodriguez. Friends at the time described her style as “prock”, a stylish combination of preppy and jock.
It was in 2004, during her marriage to Chris Burch, when Tory decided to go into fashion design. It took eight months of work to create her first collection.
Her first boutique was on Elizabeth Street in NYC, with an interior designed in a uniquely Tory fashion. On opening day, Tory watched as her pieces flew off the shelves. She called her line “Tory by TRB” until 2006, when it was shortened to just “Tory Burch.” With more then 15 categories of products, including everything from towels to totes to tunics, Tory Burch was a lifestyle brand from the beginning.
Though Tory saw early success, it was Oprah Winfrey who made her a household name. In early 2005, Tory made the smart decision to gift Oprah a tunic from her collection. Soon after, in March 2005, she was invited to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Sales skyrocketed in one night, as Tory's website received eight million hits.
Today, Tory Burch has more than 125 standalone stores and is sold in more than 3,000 department stores. A self-made billionaire, Tory is now a staple on Forbes’ lists.
Tory is a true example of a woman who does it all. Her many roles include mother, CEO, designer, and philanthropist. In 2009, she started the Tory Burch Foundation, an organization that provides small business loans, mentoring and entrepreneurial education for the economic empowerment of women entrepreneurs.
Tory's Designs & Their Evolution
Tory Burch’s designs are very much inspired by her parents, as well as the styles of the 1960s and '70s. The inspiration can be seen in her old school preppy-chic aesthetic that she manages to blend seamlessly with a bohemian edge. Her collections are rife with color and print. Here at College Fashion, we love Tory Burch. Her double-t logo bags, flip-flops, and ballet flats are perpetual favorites on campus.
Tory's designs are often inspired by her world travels - think Persian rugs seen in Asia, or paintings spotted in Europe. However, for her Spring/Summer 2017 collection, Burch’s designs stayed in the states, giving off an East Coast vs. West Coast vibe:
Tory Burch is a fantastic example of a female entrepreneur finding success in the male-dominated fashion industry. Additionally, she's all about empowering other women to do the same. So when you next see those double-t flats on campus, let them inspire you to - pardon the pun - follow in her footsteps.
Do you own Tory Burch pieces? Are you a fan of her designs? Are they eclectic or eccentric? Who would you like to see under the spotlight next?