It’s a Sign: Tory Burch on Her Middle East Expansion and Being a Gemini

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What’s in a sign? For American fashion designer Tory Burch, Gemini is more than just an astrological sign. It perfectly represents her personal identity: a busy entrepreneur and a mother of twin boys, being an introvert and an extrovert, and simultaneously playing the roles of a designer and a CEO. In addition, the star sign has become a source of inspiration for a new design motif featuring two gold-colored links joined together, which was an integral part of her Fall/Winter 2016 collection.

This ‘Gemini Link’, which features across Tory Burch’s ready-to-wear and accessories categories, draws inspiration from Moroccan architecture and the work of interior designer David Hicks. It celebrates life’s dualities and the fact that there are two sides to every story.

Here, Tory Burch elaborates on the collection, her multi-faceted role in life and at work, and her brand’s expansion in the Middle East.

Tory Burch Spring/Summer 2017
Photo: Courtesy of Tory Burch

The Tory Burch logo is iconic and instantly recognizable. Why have you chosen to change it for the ‘Gemini Link’ collection?
The ‘Gemini Link’ is an abstract take on our iconic double-T logo, which is not going away. One year ago, we were thinking about creating new logo-inspired designs to complement the original, and we came up with the ‘Gemini Link’. We loved it so much that we designed a collection around it.

You have a strong affinity for David Hicks. How did this inspire your design of the ‘Gemini Link’?
Our double-T logo draws inspiration from Moroccan architecture and David Hicks’ interiors, and that carries through to the bold and graphic quality of the ‘Gemini Link’.

What does the design of the ‘Gemini Link’ logo signify?
With its symmetrical double links, the motif signifies duality, which defines women’s lives today.

What Gemini traits do you exhibit? What are your dual sides like, and are they ever in conflict?
The Gemini traits that I see in myself include curiosity, creativity, and a tendency to see two sides to every story. Two is a significant number for me: I’m a mother and an entrepreneur, I have twin boys, and I always joke that I’d be equally happy living on a farm or in the center of a busy city. Our lives are full of these dualities – both big and small – and I see them as complementary, not conflicting.

Running a billion-dollar empire and holding down a household as the mother of twin boys can’t be easy. How do you do it?
Balancing work and family has always been my greatest challenge. It is something I work on every day. For me, it comes down to setting clear priorities – my boys come first no matter what, and time management is key. It helps that I’m very good at multitasking. I always say that I couldn’t be a good CEO if I wasn’t a good mom first.

What kind of expectations do you have for yourself as a businesswoman?
We are a performance-driven company and expect a level of excellence from everyone on our team, myself included. But we also have our “Buddy Values”, named after my father Buddy Robinson, who treated everyone with kindness and respect. I think of our team as a family and cultivate that sense of community. When people are happy, they do great work.

Tory Burch Spring/Summer 2017
Photo: Courtesy of Tory Burch

Why have you chosen to expand your retail reach in the Middle East?
The Middle East is an important market for us – the women are chic and sophisticated, with a great sense of style. We find that our brand is resonating with the Middle Eastern customer, and we want to be sure she has access to our collection, wherever she lives.

How many stores do you plan to open in the Middle East by 2017?
We currently have 13 boutiques in the Middle East and plan to continue building our presence in the region.

How will your store design in the Middle East differ from those in other regions, if at all?
Our store concept for the Middle East is similar to our boutiques globally, which are custom designed to create a residential feel. The interior of our City Walk boutique features white oak and marble floors as well as a sophisticated mix of furnishings, including silk drapes, velvet sofas, and green rugs.

How is the Middle Eastern customer different from your other customers?
Our Middle Eastern customer prefers more modest silhouettes; we find that our long dresses and caftans resonate with her. She also appreciates special details and embellishments.

You have visited Dubai before. What is your impression of the city?
Dubai is a fascinating global city – traditional and modern, cosmopolitan yet surrounded by the desert and the sea. The people are incredibly warm and welcoming. I hope to go back soon!

How are you adapting to rapid changes in the fashion industry? What do you think of the “See Now, Buy Now” retail model?
As our industry evolves, it’s important to continue innovating and evolving along with it. The “See Now, Buy Now” model is extremely interesting. At our company, we are always exploring different ideas and approaches, and we had a limited number of “See Now, Buy Now” pieces in our last two shows. I think it will be part of the future, but it will take some time to get there. For now, companies should do what’s right for them and what works for their business.

tory-burch-interview-4
Photo: Courtesy of Tory Burch
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