Sitting between the luxury market and High Street, fashion label Tory Burch has found itself in the enviable position of taking the best of both worlds. Kitty Go reports inHong Kong.
Fashion label Tory Burch finds itself in the right position.
Many fashion brands are struggling to find that quality that will make them stand out in what has become a monotonous and crowded retail environment. Some look to heritage, others to craftsmanship. Some feature exotic locations with every campaign. But amid all these assaults on our sense of style, the US sportswear brand and its founder and designer, Tory Burch, stand out with both fashion and business sense. The privately held company started in 2004 with the Tory tunic, a top inspired by a $6 French flea-market smock. The business is now worth an estimated $3.5 billion. With a stellar performance and dominant market share in fewer than 10 years, many older luxury goods companies are probably beginning to wonder whether age does matter.
Although Tory Burch is not as expensive as a true luxurybrand, it is not as inexpensive as a High Street or fast-fashion brand, either. Therein lies the brand’s strong position. At its prices, wealthier women can choose to wear Tory Burch every day while others can aspire to wear them for special occasions.
The velvet floral navy and cream jacquard grouping for fall 2013-14 is a great example and happens to be one of Burch’s favorites. The long “Dayton” coat from this group can be worn to work by a managing director over her suit, yet her assistant could wear the very same thing over a black dress for an evening out. The consistently best selling Reva flat in this season’s cracked metallic leather can be worn by day with jeans and a trench or at night with satin trousers and a silk bow blouse, one of Burch’s must-haves in every working woman’s wardrobe.
The Tory Burch style, which is inextricably linked to its founder’s taste and lifestyle, is mostly inspired by the personal style of Burch’s parents, Buddy and Reva. Travel, art, music and culture are also strong influences but not the only ones.
This fall, Burch found inspiration for prints and deep, rich colors like muted gold and silver, plum, navy and gray, from the decorative and cursive styles of art deco artists Gustav Klimt and Rene Lalique.
Films from all periods also inspire Burch. Spring 2014 was based on Romy Schneider in La Piscine, shot on the glamorous French Riviera in the ’60s. Elements of nature were carried from fall with dragonflies and scarabs on prints, jewelry and even shoe heels to spring, where florals and garden lattices abound everywhere, including handbags.
No detail is too small for Burch and that extends to her freestanding boutiques. They are the most experiential part of her brand after the clothes and they precisely sum up the lifestyle that Burch projects.
The brand is positioned to make customers feel such proximity to Burch’s lifestyle that walking into a Tory Burch boutique is like entering a beautifully decorated sitting room of her home instead of a bricks-and-mortar retail shop as we know it.
A trademark of every boutique is its visibility from the outside but “just so” that there is the desire to enter yet enough privacy inside to linger.
Push open the orange lacquered doors and you are greeted by glamorous mirrored walls perfect for viewing a bag or holding up a dress, chandeliers, lucite fixtures, heavy drapes and muted velvet upholstery. There are sofas anyone will be happy to sink into but also cushioned stools to do a quick shoe tryon. The dressing rooms are sumptuous, very private and welllit. Merchandise displays are as accessible as the prices.
Burch started the business with $2 million from her then-husband, Christopher Burch.
“I noticed there were certain things missing inmy closet — beautifully made, well-designed pieces like the perfect trench or a cigarette pant — that didn’t cost a fortune. Our customer base has grown since the beginning — it includes women of all ages and personal styles around the world.”
Burch realized she was on to a big thing when nearly all of her inventory sold out on the first day of the opening of her first boutique, on Elizabeth Street in the hip Nolita neighborhood of New York City, in 2004. In 2005, Oprah Winfrey christened her brand “the next big thing in fashion”.
“I could have never imagined our company would be where it is today when we started,” she recalls. “I had a vision, a passion for what I was doing and a little bit of blind faith. I was unaware of just how much hard work it would be and kept pushing forward no matter what.”
In 2009, Tory Burch opened its first international flagship store in Tokyo’s Ginza district. Today the company has 106 freestanding boutiques and is available in more than 1,000 department and specialty stores worldwide. Product categories are ready-to-wear, including evening gowns, handbags, shoes, fashion jewelry, home accessories, beauty and fragrance by the Estee Lauder group and eyewear by Luxottica.
The “Dayton” coat can be worn to work and for special occasions.
Queen Anne’s lace minaudiere.
Robinson printed satchel.
Savannah wedge sandal.
Vars shoulder bag.