Brigitte Kleine, president of Tory Burch Inc., will be leaving the company at the end of September.
Kleine has been with Burch for nearly 12 years, spearheading the growth of the ready-to-wear and accessories business into an operation that reportedly generates over $1 billion in sales. Her plans aren’t known yet.
“After nearly 12 years of the most exhilarating professional and personal journey, I have decided that it is time for me to begin a new chapter in my life,” said Kleine. “In 12 short years, Tory and the Tory Burch lifestyle not only inspire each of us every single day, but Tory Burch, the person and the brand now inspires women all around the world.”
She added that she is grateful to have played a role in building “this magnificent company and for the opportunity to work with Tory and the incredible team of talented people that make up the global population of Tory Burch.”
Further, she added, “I believe this is still the beginning of this company’s brilliant future, and I am very confident that Tory, Roger (Farah) , Robert (Isen) and the exceptional leadership team will thoughtfully lead the company into its next phase of growth.”
Burch, who serves as chairman and co-chief executive officer, said, “Brigitte and I have been working together for more than 12 years. She has been an incredible partner, adviser and friend. She’s been integral to the growth of the company, her achievements and contributions are too numerous to capture here. We could not have imagined building this incredible global company without her.”
In September 2014, Roger Farah, the former vice chairman of Ralph Lauren Corp., joined Burch as co-ceo. He is often credited with helping to transform Lauren into a global powerhouse. About Kleine, he said, “Brigitte’s impact to our organization can be felt far and wide. She’s helped lead and build this organization into the global lifestyle brand it is today, ensuring it is customer-focused and technologically current. It was an absolute pleasure to have the opportunity to work with her.”
When Farah came on board, the company created an executive director’s office that consisted of Burch, Farah, Kleine and Burch’s brother, Robert Isen, president of corporate development and chief legal officer.
As president, Kleine was involved in every major development at the company, ranging from getting distribution in stores such as Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s, to opening their own freestanding stores, overseas retail expansion in cities such as São Paulo, Bahrain, Beirut, Dubai, Kuwait, Rio de Janeiro, Munich, Istanbul, Mexico City, Shanghai and Beijing, and setting up various licensing deals for products such as watches and beauty, the launch of the Tory Sport division and the development of the company’s e-commerce business.
But the company has always grown in a controlled way. For example, in a 2012 interview, Kleine told WWD that it takes about 18 months to get a location ready for a retail introduction. “We want to make sure we have the right talent and the right infrastructure,” said Kleine. When Burch entered a new region — even after wholesaling at stores within a territory — the company would open several stores at a time. “If you’re investing in infrastructure and the time, you want to make sure the market is viable for several stores,” said Kleine, who joined Burch a year after the company was launched at the designer’s kitchen table in 2004.
Before joining Burch, Kleine held executive leadership roles at various fashion brands, and was most recently president of Women’s Collection at Michael Kors. Earlier, she was U.S. president for Alexander McQueen. She was with Donna Karan International for nine years, and served as president of international and licensing.