By  on November 10, 2005

NEW YORK — Among socialites at swanky Manhattan soirees, suburban mothers on school runs and gatherings of Oprah Winfrey groupies, Tory Burch seems to have become a topic of conversation — for good reason.

It’s been less than two years since Burch launched Tory by TRB with a boutique on Elizabeth Street here, but her lifestyle concept has had a rapid-fire expansion  nationwide. Burch operates freestanding boutiques in New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta, and has 120 wholesale accounts nationwide and an e-commerce site that had over 7 million hits after Winfrey endorsed the designer on her show in April. Now, Burch is embarking on a new chapter in her budding fashion career.

In spring 2006, Tory by TRB will officially be renamed Tory Burch. She decided to make the name change because most consumers refer to the line that way already, and Tory was a registered trademark in Asia, which would complicate expansion into that booming market.

Over the next six months, Burch is  scheduled to open freestanding stores in Dallas and Greenwich, Conn., and expand her U.S. distribution to over 150 accounts. Meanwhile, a revamped, more user-friendly e-commerce Web site,, is expected to bow by the end of this month.

Sitting in the 7,000-square-foot Madison Avenue showroom to which the company has recently relocated, Burch admitted it’s all a far cry from what she had expected when cooking up the lifestyle concept in her Upper East Side apartment a few years ago. “I knew I had a concept that I thought was missing in the market. It was something I wanted to make into a lifestyle brand,” Burch said. “I didn’t think we were going to grow this quickly.”

To better serve the fast expansion, Burch hired Brigitte Kleine as the company’s first president in March. Kleine joined from Michael Kors, where she was senior vice president of the women’s signature and better-priced Michael Michael Kors collections. Prior to that, she was president of American wholesale and retail sales at Alexander McQueen, and president of international licensing at Donna Karan International.

“We needed someone like Brigitte…to focus it and to help us get to the next level,” Burch said.

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