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Inside Tory Burch’s ‘cool girl’ rebrand

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The Tory Burch pierced mules have fashionistas stopped dead in their tracks: Wait, that’s Tory Burch?

The viral spring/summer 2023 footwear was among the latest designs to captivate shopaholics, who likely associated the New York City label with sensible tunics or the gold medallion Reva flats.

But Tory Burch’s most recent collections — featuring sheer skirts, leather bodysuits, hooped hemlines and plunging necklines — are uncharacteristically edgy yet elevated.

Now, as it celebrates its 20th anniversary, Tory Burch is a certified “Cool Girl brand” with the most fashionable influencers seated in a stacked front row at New York Fashion Week alongside young A-listers.

And the impending “Toryssaince” becoming “the talk of the town,” fashion writer Liana Satenstein told The Post.

“They’re stepping into their New York energy,” NYC model Gabrielle Richardson, whose first introduction to the brand was in her mom’s closet, told The Post.

“Before, it was very much a very Upper East Side mother, but now it also can be the girl who lives downtown as well.”

Tory Burch’s star-studded front row this season featured Uma Thurman, Natasha Lyonne, AnnaSophia Robb and Awkwafina. Neil Rasmus/Shutterstock

The likes of Emily Ratajkowski model the latest garments, which have scored Burch, 57, her first-ever nomination for womenswear designer of the year from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) in November and landed her on Lyst’s 2023 Q3 report as a brand to watch.

Izzi Allain, a NYC-based content creator who has previously worked with Tory Burch, called the brand “chic,” “original” and “styleable,” not “just standing out to stand out.” As Richardson said, it’s like “being cool without trying hard.”

“That’s what I love about Tory Burch,” Allain, 25, told The Post. “I think that’s what makes them different.”

The sudden “It” factor is a stark contrast from past seasons for the brand, which was long-regarded as a mature, modest uniform for preppy cul-de-sac luxury, posh sororities or “the Midtown career-climbing babe,” per Satenstein.

But Burch has since shed the “cheugy” label asserted by Gen Zers and, what Magasin founder Laura Reily called, an unrelatable, “vague Hamptons-y veneer” for experimental collections that flex her craftsmanship.

“A brand known for monogrammed glossy flats became semi-nude mesh, sheer skirts, a mix of classic and contemporary,” fashion writer Cortne Bonilla told High Snobeity, adding that she was both “invigorated and slightly confused” upon viewing the spring/summer 2023 runway.

Reps for Tory Burch didn’t respond to The Post’s requests for comment.

While the first murmurings of a design shift began in 2021 among fashion critics, Burch, 57, can trace her latest evolution to the 2015 introduction of Tory Sport; “a palate cleanser,” she told the Washington Post. Then, stepping down as CEO — and subsequently being replaced by her husband Pierre-Yves Roussel, the former chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH — allowed her more time to focus her full attention on design and “changed everything.”

Allain told The Post that the “styleable” garments are not “just standing out to stand out.” Sansho Scott/BFA.com/Shutterstock
The label has been hailed as a “Cool Girl brand,” with the likes of Bieber, Ratajkowski and “It” girl influencers touting Tory Burch. @haileybieber

“For me, it’s not really about courting someone specific. It’s about just thinking about women broadly. I don’t think about a certain kind of woman,” Burch told the Washington Post.

She wouldn’t want to “alienate” her loyal customer base who might prefer her earlier designs, but she admitted she wants to and has been “evolving,” intrigued by “the concept of reinventing.”

While Burch herself might consider it more a natural transformation than a complete design overhaul, it’s evident that she’s deviating from her infamous prep into chic du jour between the pierced footwear, sheer fabric and the bubblegum pink hoop dress worn by Hailey Bieber.

Ratajkowski tells Nylon that the people who stop to compliment her clothes from Tory Burch declare it is “so cool now.”

And when Richardson proudly declares her handbag is Tory Burch when people inquire, she says her friends are wowed by the designer “changing the game.”

As Allain puts it: “Tory Burch is having a moment right now and we’re all here for it.”



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