My breakfast with Tory Burch
I will admit that when I think of Tory Burch, the first thing that comes to mind is those ubiquitous flats. You know, the elastic ballet flats with the round gold logo, the ones I've spotted on the feet of everyone from Upper East Side 12-year-olds to suburban housewives; the ones that have become a Gossip Girl punchline. There is no denying that Burch is a coveted label: Women waited for four hours to get into the opening day of her sample sale--a scene so bananas, the cops were called. So when I was invited for morning coffee at her Meatpacking District store, I decided to go, if only to investigate what, exactly, makes Tory Burch so damn popular. I expected to peruse the racks, chit-chat with the PR girls, have a cup of coffee, and be on my merry way after 20 minutes or so. I did not expect Tory Burch to show up. But she did.

Not only did Tory show up--apologizing for being late (she wasn't) and bemoaning the bags under her eyes (there were none)--but she shook my hand, took my business card, and promised to check out my blog. She then proceeded to give the crowd of bloggers an informal but enthusiastic presentation of her favorite items in the store, including handbags (a new focus for the brand), costume jewelry, the summer collection, and the pre-fall collection (inspired by Venice). She started pulling stuff from the racks, she answered everyone's questions, she made self-deprecating other words, she was completely lovely. She also--in case you were wondering--stressed that the brand was trying to move away from That Logo, which is definitely welcome news.

This is a new logo that will start popping up this summer; it's based on her father's monogram.

But if you like the circle-T logo, fear not. It still turns up--albeit on a smaller scale--in bags like this one, a convertible tote with an adjustable strap (Tory said it's a bestseller this season).

The genius of Tory Burch is that she finds a way to adapt fashion-forward trends into a totally wearable manner. Take these shoes--they're a neutral camel color with fun silver trim and a shock of bright neon pink. They're somehow trendy and conservative at the same time, and I totally want them.

Or, take these belts. I know I personally have a weakness for faceted studs, but these are so much more refined. They're "I live west of Park Avenue," not "I live in a fifth-floor walkup on the Lower East Side."

Tory obviously loves to travel, and I like that she incorporates it into her collections. This scarf, for example, was made in India (where she'll be going this summer with her design team, to do research for next spring's collection).

So, what makes Tory Burch so popular? As I said earlier, she takes trendy elements and adapts them to fit her style, which is smart--sometimes we as New Yorkers forget that we live in a hyper-trendy fashion bubble; fashion trends can be severe and scary, but she manages to make them accessible by blending them in well with her signature aesthetic, which I think is actually neo-preppy. It's not traditionally preppy as in whale patterns and Madras, but it's a natural outgrowth of it, with the prints, tunics, canvas bags, and gold accents. Her clothes are colorful and happy, and we forget that most women want to look feminine and classic, not moody and subversive (again, New York fashion bubble). The other thing that makes Tory so appealing is that she is the perfect representative of her brand. She seems to Have It All: She's a successful businesswoman and she balances that with family (she mentioned her sons several times during the presentation), not to mention, she's totally adorable and utterly stylish (I was drooling over her green velvet and bamboo platform sandals, which are part of the fall collection). And isn't that what women nowadays want?


Deana said...

great article! i think so much more of her and her brand now and am so impressed with how down to earth she seems from your article. :-)

Anonymous said...

nanette lepore is feminine and classic, dvf is colorful and happy, tory burch is bland and suburban, and she's popular because a whole lot of people are bland and suburban.