Tory Burch’s Solid Foundation Making fashion empowering on and off the runway
You might have tried to talk to Tory Burch about the designs following her show, and the designer was game to do so, but clearly she would rather discuss the work her foundation founded just five years after her company started.
But there was a fashion show that opened with a live performance by a velvet-voiced singer, Alica Smith. Let’s for a minute talk about the clothes. Burch used as an anchor for her collection, aptly shown at Sotheby’s, the work of multimedia artist Francesca DiMattio.
Organza sweaters inspired by DiMattio’s work could be collector’s items. In cotton-candy pink or baby blue, they simultaneously exuded artistry as well as a nurturing spirit.
DiMattio’s pieces are dense with prints and colors. Burch captured this in printed dresses that hung loosely from the body. Florals were a common motif, some patterns used for patchwork effect with solids. Smocking added interest to some pieces, if not vibrancy.
Burch gave knee-high flat boots a touch of serendipity in citrus colors and some with floral pleasing flower patterns. Finding wearable dresses and skirts was easy but discovering excitement and a-need-to-have was elusive.
So on to TBF, The Tory Burch Foundation, and Burch’s good works. Burch made social impact a part of her company mission earlier than many of her contemporaries. “It’s something I grew up with and learned from my parents,” the designer said after the show.
This is not to suggest other designers haven’t been philanthropic. They have. Designers are a charitable-minded bunch as individuals and as a group, as evidenced by their work for the CFDA dating back to the Eighties with their vigorous beat-breast-cancer efforts and their passionate fight against AIDS.
We’re in a new age when some 73% of millennial buyers say they are more likely to spend with a socially conscious brand versus one that is not. And a recent study by Accenture found that 64% of U.S. consumers of all ages say that a brand’s ethics are important and affect their purchasing decisions.
Burch has focused her brand’s philanthropy on supporting women in business.
“It’s taken me ten years to say I want to talk (externally) about the Foundation and what we do around women,” she said. “We want to start talking about our work more.”
Heretofore, she has been hesitant because she did not want TBF’s work to be perceived as a marketing pitch. It’s a deeply held personal value. “It’s why I started the company,” she said.
The brand was born in 2005 and four years later she launched the Foundation. “People thought I was a little crazy and told me never to talk about it, “she recalled.
TBF brought Bank of America onboard to help with the financial side of the women-owned businesses that the Foundation works with.
Regardless of how much we might wish it were different, we are still stuck up to our knees in the idea that fashion and women’s empowerment are a contradiction. The total truth is that when a woman gets dressed, she wants to feel powerful and confident, said Burch. “That’s something that we think a lot about.”
“If we can make a difference in women’s lives, making them feel powerful,” Burch will have met her goal, she explained, “to empower women and help dissolve stereotypes for what femininity means.”
Giving back is essential, but TBF is not really a charity, Burch demurred. “It’s helping women help themselves,” she says “which I love.”