Tory Burch’s Downtown Lair

If Tory Burch lived in the Meatpacking District, her new store is what her living room would look like.

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NEW YORK — If Tory Burch lived in the Meatpacking District, her new store is what her living room would look like.

This story first appeared in the December 12, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The store at 38-40 Little West 12th Street here, which opened for business on Thursday, is the designer’s second location in Manhattan (the first opened four years ago at 257 Elizabeth Street), and her 16th location nationwide.

“It was very important for the space to look like us, but evolved,” said Burch, pointing out details such as the bright green plush carpeting, plum chairs and white couches, and a silver and brass painted antique desk that her architect, Daniel Romualdez, found online on FirstDibs.com.

“We loved the Seventies’ fanciness about it, but made it much cooler in the space by adding in the stainless steel walls and brass trims,” Romualdez said. “It feels very luxurious, but also very downtown.”

The 1,600-square-foot space houses the entire Tory Burch assortment, at a range of price points. A customer can walk in and buy a $45 pair of flip-flops or a $990 beaded cocktail dress. Along the back wall is a series of framed mirrored boxes, each of which houses a pair of shoes. The wall, Burch said, is meant to look like a wall of framed art in a home or gallery. Accessories — from business card holders to bracelets and handbags — are also displayed on tables and display cases throughout the store. This, Burch said, is really important, as the accessories continue to sell extremely well, even in a poor economy.

“We are definitely feeling it,” Burch said of running a business in a recession. “The goal now is to figure out how we can navigate through it. Our focus is on the product and on the customer. It’s tough, but we are still planning to move ahead with our growth plans.”

Those plans, Burch said, include the opening of five more freestanding stores next year, extending product categories — “I’m really hoping to do home,” she said — and the relaunch of toryburch.com to reflect more of what the brand’s lifestyle has become.

“We first launched the Web site about two months after we opened our first store on Elizabeth Street,” Burch explained. “I always knew it would become a big part of our business, but it was never really in our budget to promote it and move it forward.”

Burch worked on the site with Create the Group, a technology firm that has built Web sites for such brands as Juicy Couture, Fendi, Oscar de la Renta and Marc Jacobs. With new marketing images from Trey Laird, who Burch also recently began working with, the site is filled with ways the customer can get to know more about the designer and the brand. There’s a list of Burch’s favorite items within the collections, styling advice and a look into her own life through a blog she will contribute to regularly. Also, customers can easily shop the site by either clicking on an item in a marketing shot, browsing through by collection or by category.

“It’s such an interesting way to reach the customer and give her a glimpse into our world,” she said.

The firm has also hired former In Style editor Honor Brodie, whose responsibility will be to make the site feel more like editorial in a magazine, Burch said. In addition, Burch plans to have some special additions over time, such as styling sessions with guest stylists and discussions with guest editors.

The site will relaunch in about two weeks.

While there’s been speculation that Burch is seeking an investor to help her expand her $200 million business, she remains mum about any plans to sell. She also declined to give first-year sales expectations for the new store and the Web site.

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