“Tory isn’t this living doll,” her old friend Marjorie Gubelmann says.“That image of her next to a vase of hydrangeas—that’s her brand, and people are inspired by that.“I started to think, How do we make this stuff chic again?What a lot of sports brands miss is femininity, unless it’s a garish femininity in the form of exposed body parts and neon colors.“She inspires her team without making a big song and dance about it,” says Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet.“She just does it and delivers results.” On a recent Thursday morning in her offices on West Nineteenth Street—appointed in orange and brown lacquers, with the requisite smattering of gold leaf, Lucite, and mirror; a ginger jar here, an Indian print there—Tory is, as always, everywhere at once.“I never want things be too vintage-y,” Tory says, “but imagine that perfect ski sweater that you see in a thrift shop but don’t buy because it’s too itchy or it’s all polyester.I thought, if we could make things superfunctional but still think about style and history, give them a beautiful feel in the hand, and maybe make them a bit preppy—that would be something different.”At the University of Pennsylvania, where she majored in art history, Tory’s friends liked to call her a “prock”: part prep, part jock. “Many of the things I see in her stores are reminiscent of the stuff she wore in college,” says Hayley Boesky, her roommate at Penn.
But if you grew up with Tory on Philadelphia’s Main Line, where as the captain of the varsity tennis team at the Agnes Irwin School for girls she had a two-handed topspin backhand that was a kill shot, or if you have played at her garden court in Southampton, Long Island, steps away from the Jazz Age neo-Georgian mansion where she spends summer weekends, then you already know that Tory plays to win. It’s hard to empire-build politely, but she has managed it, delivering one of the world’s most successful fashion brands, now valued at around .5 billion, in little more than a decade.But she’s that mom who goes bonefishing in the Bahamas with her kids.All summer long, literally, her hair is wet.”Of course, has lately become a fashion buzzword, a term intended to embrace the kind of clothing that a woman might be able to wear at work, to the gym, and then to dinner.There’s a neoprene wet suit with floral side panels, a ponte blazer with a zip-out hood, pull-on dresses with tunic necklines, and oversize sweaters in cashmere that, she swears, breathes.
Bags have compartments for water bottles and sunscreen, and sneakers are encrusted in navy-blue pearls.
Tory waxes lyrical about bonding and seam-sealing, windproofing and waterproofing, and indeed stealth functionality is everywhere—interior zip pockets, reflective piping, UPF fabrics.