Tory Burch is the Founder, Designer and Executive Chairman of the brand that bears her name, and the last time Grazia had dinner with her in Dubai, she joked that she had to marry former LVMH CEO and Chairman Pierre-Yves Roussel to persuade him to become the CEO of the company. With the pandemic irrevocably changing the fashion landscape in New York and beyond, Tory reveals how she’s remained true to her vision, while pursuing her purpose.
What kind of impact has the pandemic had on your business?
We had to make some very tough decisions at the start, all our stores were shut and safety had to be our first priority. Thankfully, we have weathered the worst of the storm and we are cautiously optimistic about what this year will bring. It has been amazing having Pierre-Yves, my husband, working beside me as CEO. We are completely aligned on our values and vision, and yet we bring very different backgrounds and experiences to what we do. Having him to help me navigate through the pandemic has been a tremendous gift, personally and professionally.
How have you adjusted to the pandemic period?
As a designer there have been some practical challenges. In the early months we had to learn to design remotely – trucks of samples were delivered to my house and the team reviewed them over Zoom. And while the past year has required immense resilience and ingenuity, the silver lining has been a chance to reset and reconnect with the purpose of our brand: to create classic designs that make women feel beautiful and confident by a company that is committed to empowering and inspiring women.
What have you found the most challenging?
I am lucky to have a large close family and being apart is incredibly hard. I cannot wait to get everyone together again.
What have you done as a business to cope with the crisis and inspire your community and the world?
We have donated tens of thousands of products to healthcare workers, the materials needed for gowns, and raised $1.3 million for the International Medical Corps through our mask sales. We also pivoted the Tory Burch Foundation to help women entrepreneurs navigate COVID-19 by launching a small business webinar series and offering online resources. More recently, we launched our #EmpoweredWomen campaign, in partnership with Upworthy, to celebrate women all over the world who have stepped up to make a difference. Anyone can nominate a woman, anywhere in the world, who inspires them and I would love it if your readers would let us know about the women who inspire them at toryburch.com/empoweredwomen.
How has the fashion and retail industry in New York been affected, and are you seeing any signs of growth, and positive change?
The fashion industry was hit hard by the pandemic. Not only have people have been staying home and shopping less, but it has also impacted how we design, manufacture and collaborate. I am optimistic about the year ahead, people are excited to get out and dress up and we will see an explosion of style and creativity.
What are your techniques for staying positive?
I think it is really important to stay connected to your purpose, your ‘why’ will keep you going through tough times. For me, nothing feels more empowering than empowering someone else – stories of women feeling great in our clothes or benefiting from the work of our Foundation always lift me up.
What are your hopes for the future?
I hope for nothing less than a world where everyone, regardless of who they are or where they are from, can live the life they truly want.
What’s the first thing you’d like to do once the world is a safer place?
First, I want to give my mother a huge hug, and then I want to go to Paris. We have family there I have not seen in over a year.
What message do you have for Grazia readers?
This past year has been a tough time for everyone, especially women, and we all need to find the positive moments and support to see us through. I have been so inspired to see how women in my life – and all over the world – have risen to the challenges of this year shown up for each other like never before. Stay safe and strong, better times are on their way.
Tory Burch’s Gratitude List
1. The first thing on my list has to be my family’s good health and happiness. As a mother, nothing could be more important.
2. And speaking of mothers, I talk to my mine every day, at least twice. She is the most optimistic person I know and approaches life with “a cup is half full” attitude.
3. I am constantly grateful for our incredible team. We could never have gotten through the early days of the crisis without creativity, conviction and extra collaborative effort. We are still navigating through the crisis every day, together.
4. My dogs Chicken, Slim and Hercules, they are truly my therapy.
5. And finally, I am constantly grateful for the Tory Burch community. Our customers helped us build the brand and we could not have navigated the last year without their support.
Photos: Noa Griffel for Tory Burch