Ten Things You May Not Know About Tory BurchWhen we hear the name Tory Burch, we immediately think of the high-end, ready-to-wear American brand with the iconic T-logo medallion. It is the brand that introduced the Reva Ballet Flats and whose bags, sunglasses and shoes are flying off the shelves at Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom and Saks. It is the brand celebrities, including Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jessica Alba, Kerry Washington, Jennifer Lopez, Reese Witherspoon and the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, love to wear with its chic and feminine designs.
But who really is Tory Burch? Who is the woman behind this multi-billion dollar international brand other than the blonde beauty whom we see in the magazine features and television interviews?
Here are ten things that will get you started in knowing this famous fashion designer.
1. Tory Burch was born as Tory Robinson
Tory Robinson is the daughter of former actress, Reva Schapira, and investor, Earl "Bud" Robinson.
Tory Robinson became Tory Burch when she married her second husband, investor and entrepreneur J. Christopher Burch, who she has three sons and three stepdaughters with. Although they divorced in 2006, she continues to use his last name.
2. Tory grew up in a farmhouse and was a tomboy
Born on June 17, 1966 in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, Tory was raised in a 250-year old Georgian farmhouse, along with her three brothers, Robert, James and Leonard.
As a child, Tory has said that she was a tomboy and was not interested in fashion but because of her stylish parents’ influence, she developed a passion for it later on. As an adult, she has attributed many of her qualities and love for fashion to her parents.
3. She started out as the girl who gets coffee
When Tory moved to New York to pursue a career in the fashion industry, she started working as an assistant to Yugoslavian fashion designer Zoran, followed by Harper's Bazaar magazine. Then she became a copywriter for Ralph Lauren before she worked with Vera Wang on the ready-to-wear division. But it wasn’t until she decided to start her own lifestyle brand that she attempted to design herself.
4. She started her brand at home
Tory began designing clothes in her kitchen. She began her fashion label, "TRB by Tory Burch"—later known as just "Tory Burch." Before long, she had an important celebrity endorsement and soaring sales figures.
She opened her first small boutique on Elizabeth Street in Manhattan, which was designed to feel more like a residential space than a traditional retail store, and since then the brand has grown into a global business with presence in more than 50 countries.
5. TV made her big
Her business boomed after television mogul Oprah Winfrey, who was and still is a fan of Burch's work, endorsed the designer calling her "the next big thing in fashion." Oprah was certainly right. The next day, the Tory Burch website received over 8 million visitors.
In 2009, Tory appeared on an episode of the popular television series "Gossip Girl", which solidified her youth appeal. Her styles were very popular with the viewers and fans of the television show, which they often appeared on among different generations of the trendy Manhattan cast that included the teen fashion icons Blake Lively and Leighton Meester.
6. She’s a Fashion Week late bloomer
It is somewhat shocking to know that this designer has not been showing at New York Fashion Week for long. After years of holding presentations, her very first full show at Lincoln Center was in 2011.
7. Tory Burch is a Techie
Always ahead of the curb, in 2014 at New York Fashion Week, the Tory Burch brand was the first to use Google’s Lightbox, which is Google’s custom brand exchange, to live stream video of the runway show. The designer also added a line of accessories for the Fitbit Flex activity-tracking device, making hers the first major fashion brand to move into wearable technology in 2014.
Known for digital innovation, the company also has websites in Europe and Asia; a Webby-nominated app called the Tory Daily; and a robust social media presence.
8. Tory takes inspiration from her mother
In 2006, Burch invented the 'Reva' ballerina flats, which were named after her mother and were an instant hit with consumers and critics. Journalist, Michael Shnayerson described Tory’s designs as an homage to the 50s and 60s - “Imagine a stylish woman of that day who lived on the Philadelphia Main Line, shopped in New York for the latest fashions from Rudi Gernreich, Hubert de Givenchy, and Sonia Rykiel, vacationed every year in Europe, packing the latest French and Italian styles into her Vuitton steamer trunks for the trip home, and on her way stopped in Morocco for tunics. That woman was Tory Burch’s mother, Reva. To a great extent, Burch’s clothes are inspired by what she coveted in her mother’s closets.”
9. Social responsibility is an integral part of Tory’s life.
As a dedicated philanthropist, Tory launched the Tory Burch Foundation to support the economic empowerment of women entrepreneurs and their families in the United States. In 2014, the foundation established the Elizabeth Street Capital, an initiative with Bank of America that provides women entrepreneurs access to low cost loans, mentoring support and networking opportunities. Burch’s stores also sell products, in which proceeds support the foundation.
10. Tory Burch is a Fashion Mastermind
A fashion designer, businesswoman and philanthropist Tory Burch is most certainly a fashion mastermind. Her American lifestyle brand is undoubtedly one of the most prolific to have been launched in this century, going from a very small operation out of an Upper East Side apartment in New York City to a $3.5 billion global business.
This designer has been recognized with numerous awards, including the CFDA for Accessory Designer of the Year, Glamour’s Women of the Year, and Vanity Fair’s International Best-Dressed List. It is no surprise that as of 2014 Forbes lists Tory as the 79th Most Powerful Woman In The World.
Get to know more on how this fashion mastermind made it all the way to the top and become a fashion billionaire. Let’s explore the life and design evolution of the iconic American designer on Fashion Masterminds: Tory Burch, a special feature premiering this October 30, Thursday at 21:30 (GMT+8 for Asia / GMT+1 for Europe), exclusively on Fashion One, FO, and Fashion First. Check your cable operators for your local TV channel listing.
“The one thing that every entrepreneurial journey has in common is that there are many, many steps on the road to success. If you view each one as an opportunity to learn something, there is always something you will take away from that experience. In my past jobs and internships, I have done everything from getting coffee to running interference for shy designers. And I have absorbed the advice of smart people. My parents told me to think of negativity as noise, while a good friend once said to ‘Never shy away from the word ambition.’” — Tory Burch
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