Tory Burch (born June 17, 1966) is an American fashion designer, business woman, and philanthropist, who has won several fashion awards for her designs. She is the Chairman, CEO, and Designer of Tory Burch. As of 2014, she is listed as the 79th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes
Burch was born in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Reva (née Schapira) and Ira Earl “Bud” Robinson (1923–2007). She was raised with her three brothers (Robert, James and Leonard) in a Valley Forge farmhouse, a 250-year old Georgian near the Valley Forge National Historical Park.
Her mother was an actress who dated both Steve McQueen and Marlon Brando. Her father, who was a wealthy investor, is now deceased. Her father inherited a stock exchange seat and a paper cup company. He dated Grace Kelly and Joan Bennett. Burch is Jewish on her mother’s side.
Burch attended the Agnes Irwin School in Rosemont, Pennsylvania, where she rode horses, was captain of the tennis team, and was a friend of jewelry designer Kara Ross (they remain friends today). Her first job was at Benetton in the King of Prussia Mall. She then attended the University of Pennsylvania, where she was a member of the women’s sorority Kappa Alpha Theta. She majored in art history, and graduated in 1988.
After graduating from college, Tory moved to New York City where she worked for Zoran, a Yugoslavian designer, followed by Harper’s Bazaar magazine. She then moved into public relations and advertising positions at Vera Wang, Polo Ralph Lauren and Loewe when Narciso Rodriguez was there.
She began a fashion label, “TRB by Tory Burch”, later known as “Tory Burch”, which launched with a retail store in Manhattan’s Nolita district in February 2004. Most of the inventory sold out on the first day. When Oprah Winfrey endorsed her line on The Oprah Winfrey Show in April 2005, calling Burch “the next big thing in fashion”, Burch’s website received eight million hits the following day.
Since launch, the company has grown to include over 140 Tory Burch stores worldwide, including flagships in New York, Los Angeles, London, Rome, Tokyo and Seoul, and ecommerce sites in seven languages. The company’s Shanghai flagship, which launched in 2014, is its largest. The fashion line, which includes ready-to-wear, shoes, handbags, accessories, watches, home decor, and a fragrance and beauty collection, is also carried at over 3,000 department and specialty stores worldwide, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s, as well as Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Galeries Lafayette, Lane Crawford and Isetan.
In 2009, Tory Burch sold a minority stake in her company to a Mexican private equity firm, Tresalia Capital.Additional minority investors were added in December 2012 in conjunction with the settlement of a legal dispute between Burch and her ex-husband. This settlement is said to have removed a substantial obstacle to a forthcoming IPO, which has been the subject of considerable discussion in the financial and fashion industries.
In September 2011, Burch did her first runway fashion show, at New York Fashion Week. She has since continued to show each season at New York Fashion Week.
In Fall 2013, Burch launched her first fragrance and a beauty capsule collection with Estée Lauder.
In Summer 2014, she introduced a line of accessories for the Fitbit Flex activity-tracking device, making hers the first major fashion brand to move into wearable technology. Fall 2014 marked the publication of her first book, Tory Burch in Color, and the launch of watches with Fossil.
Her style has been described as preppy-boho and preppy-bohemian luxe and is associated with her T-logo medallion. Known for being easy to wear and versatile, her styles are popular with women of all ages, including the viewers and fans of the television show Gossip Girl, where they were often featured. In 2007, there were wait lists to buy her fashions, which are known for color and print and often pay homage to styles of the 1960s and 1970s. Burch named her line of Reva ballerina flats after her mother.