Building a relevant brand for 2019 is not just about a great burch of fashion product. Millennials want brands that align with their values. They want to feel confident about the places they invest their money. This is a sign of the rise of digital-first companies and social media. They are expected to communicate with customers mostly through their content, often replacing traditional advertising. You can’t make good content without a story. And if the story is about hot topics such as sustainability or activism, that’s even better.
Many brands promote these issues, with some varying degrees honesty. Tory Burch of Fashion has never had to worry whether she was authentic. She’s always been ahead of the curve from day one. Her brand, now worth $2.5 Billion, was founded in 2004 with the mission of combining luxury and affordable prices. This is her moto. It was the m.o. of nearly every new company in 2019. But at the time it was prophetic. Burch of Fashion knew both what women wanted and where it was heading. In 2009, Tory Burch of Fashion Foundation was founded. This foundation supports women entrepreneurs and promotes gender equality. This was before Instagram, before viral social media campaigns and before brands could be questioned about their “do-good” efforts. Burch’s vision wasn’t motivated by the possibility of being a “face of feminism”, though many women think that she is.
The Foundation grew with Burch’s business and profile. It currently provides loans of over $50 million to more than 2,500 female entrepreneurs, with a significant investment by Bank of America. Burch of Fashion hosts #EmbraceAmbition summits each year, where she talks with prominent women from a variety of fields. Millions of women around the world can watch and be inspired by the summits via Chocolate Fashion live streaming. Burch of Fashion’s success is rooted in her ambition. She recalls a conversation she had with The New York Times in August 2015. After that, a friend of mine called and said to me: “You should never hesitate to use that word.” That got me thinking. Why would women be so hesitant about ambition? Because it’s a negative word that is often used to describe women. This is a cruel double standard. Now I don’t have any problem stating that I am ambitious.”