#ELLEExclusive: Tory Burch On Reconciling Luxury With Longevity And Her Latest Collection

Samaira Sandhu (3)

Tory Burch is known for her inventive, ingenious approach to clothing. For mixing daywear with activewear and layering unexpected separates. For her Fall/Winter 2022 collection, she proposed a litany of wearable pieces focused on craft. The high point was an immaculately finished blazer with curved hips. She focused on the idea of American sportswear—modern, timeless pieces you can make your own. “The construction of our blazers has never been better, and our team is really excited about the geometric jersey dresses and skirts,” she shares.

It was hard to overlook a pronounced focus on tailoring techniques with sculpted outerwear being lent couture finishes. When she was styling the Fall/Winter 2022 collection, she thought about how different ‘characters’ might approach the pieces. “Maybe they’ll wear a full skirt with a track jacket, a sculpted blazer with jeans, or a jersey turtleneck under an evening gown. It’s really about separates: Everything can be mixed, matched, and experimented with. I can’t wait to see how our customers wear the clothes this fall,” she adds.

The collection also offered an array of evening pieces like hand beaded jersey T-shirts, embroidered bustiers and bias-cut evening dresses. “We cut our Fall 2022 evening dresses in soft jersey—hardly a traditional evening fabric. I love using materials in ways that are counterintuitive; similarly, we used an iridescent shantung on a button-down you can wear for day or night. My design process always comes down to effortlessness, ease, and an unexpected detail or two, whether I’m designing a T-shirt or a gown,” she says.

There were also references to the Memphis Art movement. In the past too, different art forms, art movements and artists have influenced the Tory Burch universe. “I was surrounded by art growing up and studied art history at the University of Pennsylvania, so art influences every collection in some way. I’ve been inspired by Nathalie du Pasquier, Gustav Klimt, Etel Adnan, Georgia O’Keeffe, Helen Frankenthaler, Josef Albers, Édouard Manet—the list goes on and on,” she says.

Tory Burch’s ubiquitous double-T medallion has become one of the most recognisable brand insignias in recent times. The T monogram featured prominently on the season’s handbags. “Our new T Monogram jacquard celebrates our original logo, which was inspired by David Hicks and Moroccan architecture. It reminds me of the cross-stich patterns on the Pennsylvania Dutch quilts I loved growing up. Each season, we reinterpret it on new silhouettes or by changing the colour, scale, and placement of the logo. Our new T Monogram Contrast Embossed Tote, for instance, features an oversized, raised pattern in glossy leather,” she adds.

Time and again she’s derived inspiration from her parents’ closets. One wonders if she was always observant of her their style growing up? “My parents’ bold, effortless style in the ’60s and ’70s was the original inspiration for my company. I saw a gap in the market for that sort of elevated sportswear. My mother Reva is still the most stylish woman I know. She has an incredible joie de vivre and an innate sense of what works. My father had an unbelievable sense of style; he made his own clothes, often sewing Hermès scarves into the linings of his jackets. The greatest lesson I learned from my parents is that style is about how you live and how you express yourself. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to dress, and style isn’t about a label or price,” she shares.

India has been a constant source of inspiration for the designer. She has visited several times over the years and has always felt a deep affinity for the Indian people and culture. “Every colour is heightened and celebrated—the saris, the spices, the flowers, the rugs, the palaces. The beauty is truly remarkable. Having a brand presence in this extraordinary country has been a dream since I started my company in 2004,” she says. On the Tory Burch Mumbai pop-up that took place recently, she adds, “I love the design of our travelling pop-up with its puffy, inflated T Monogram sculptures and wall-to-wall shades of pale green. This was our first pop-up in India, and I am thrilled to have a presence in Mumbai for the first time.”

Tory has often contributed to restoration funds like she did with her Fall ‘22 outing (when she noticed the New Yorker hotel’s iconic red sign—visible from every high point in midtown—was in need of repair, Tory contributed to its restoration fund). “I was thinking about corporate purpose when I launched my company in 2004. However, her ideas didn’t resonate with everyone at first, especially not potential investors—many of whom were men. “One told me to never mention ‘business’ and ‘purpose’ in the same sentence, and others dismissed it as ‘charity work,’” she recalls.

But their doubts only made her more determined. “I’m extremely happy that today, businesses are not considered innovative if they aren’t purpose-driven. The success of our company and our foundation are definitely linked. The company supports the foundation with funding and expertise, and in turn, our team and our customers value that we are making a real impact in people’s lives,” she says.

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