Tory and Reva Burch

Tory Burch, with her mother, Reva Robinson in Japan, December 2009. Photo courtesy of Tory Burch

Having launched her eponymous label in 2004 with a small offering, Tory Burch has ascended a clip rate to become one of the most prominent American sportswear designers today. In six short years she has grown her business to an international scale, consistently developing her line of ready-to-wear and accessories to include new elements (most recently children's and home). In addition she updates her own e-commerce and editorially-based site with features from industry insiders. All the while remaining a remarkably involved mother to three sons and three stepdaughters as well as a prominent philanthropist.

Tory attributes many of her wonder woman qualities to her parents Buddy and Reva Robinson, who raised her and her three brothers (two older, one younger) on a farm in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. In honor of Mother's Day, we spoke exclusively to the two women about the importance of family, their mutual love of fashion, and Tory's penchant for pulling pranks.

Tory and Reva Burch tennis

Tory as a little girl with her mom, Reva. Photo courtesy of Tory Burch

Stylelist: What is the most important lesson you learned from your daughter?

Reva Robinson: I've learned so much from her. She's always had an incredible respect for everyone she meets and that's very important to me. She taught me to have patience and to multi-task. And I guess the most important thing is how magnificent she is with her children and her stepchildren. Her father and I raised her in a big, open family atmosphere and she's used those tools nicely to raise her own family and that makes me proud.

SL: Are there some lessons about having kids that you learned from Reva, Tory?
Tory Burch: I think the one thing that my parents taught me is that family comes first and it's the absolute most important thing. I think that's such a good lesson from my mom and just how she always put us first growing up. Also the idea of being compassionate towards people and accepting of all kinds if people. I really want to pass on to my children that total sense of optimism. My mom used to always say, no matter how bad something might get, you turn the corner and it's a whole new day.




SL: So growing up, what personality type did you most embody – the good girl, the wild child, the studious type?
Tory: I can't say the studious type. I think I was definitely the good girl. I probably should have experimented on the wilder side a little more.

SL: Why do you say that?
Tory: I don't know. I'm actually kidding. I had a healthy outlook. I think my parents were strict but not too strict and they sort of had faith in us doing the right thing. Drugs and things like that didn't really interest me. I was a tomboy and into sports. It was a lot about playing tennis and riding horses. My mom taught me how to play tennis actually. We played a lot at home, with my whole family, my father and my brothers.

SL: So no blown curfews or anything?
Tory: Oh I'm sure there were a few. Mom, you could probably say. I'm sure there were some that I missed.

Reva:
That I could attest to.

Tory Burch norell prom dress

Tory Burch in her mother's vintage Norell dress that she still wears today. Photo courtesy of Tory Burch.


SL: Tory, you've talked openly about how much your mom has influenced your fashion line. Do you have a first fashion memory of your mom as a young girl?
Tory: I have several. I remember the nights my parents would get dressed to go out and thinking they looked so incredibly chic. My mom had a gold lamé skirt and top by Zoran that she wore and she looked so beautiful. You probably still have it Mom.

Reva: Actually I have the skirt. I was hoping you had the top!

Tory: I also used to steal things from her closet a lot. Like evil eyes from Greece and different costume jewelry. My prom dress was a Yves Saint Laurent dress that she had gotten for me which was great. And then I also stole her [Norman] Norell dress. I wore that the other night. I didn't have to alter anything. It fit perfectly.

Reva: It's so beautiful. It's black, all ruched and pleated and a feather bottom.

SL: Reva, when did you realize that Tory would be a successful designer?
Reva: Actually, she's always been a star in our family so that's nothing new to me but it was just a matter of what she wanted to do when she grew up. Given her art history background, it wasn't a surprise when she said she wanted to start her own label. She's so artistic anyway and Tory would have done well whatever she put her mind to but I'm glad she chose clothes because I love clothes and I have lots of them now and they're all Tory.

SL: Including some very iconic flats!

Reva: That's right. I am now known for a shoe. Reva the shoe.

SL: Tory, what's the most rewarding part about being a mom to six?
Tory: I think one thing that my parents taught us is that really at the end of the day, it's about your family and they will be who will be there for you. Whenever I've been through difficult times, my family has been there for me, particularly my brothers and my parents. For me to be able to give that to my boys and their sisters, I think wow -- what a big gift. To show them that they need to support each other and be there for one another. And they are extremely close - all six of them. It's so nice and everyone loves being together. One thing that my mom taught me is you really have to build your children up. Really encourage them to be who they are and embrace who they are. Having identical twins, it's interesting, we don't talk about competing and we don't compare and we really try to make each quality in them shine.

SL: Reva, what is a funny memory that you have from Tory's childhood?
Reva: Funny to me but not funny to them perhaps. I guess one of the best is that Tory was just a little sprout, a skinny little tiny thing and she always wanted to keep up with her brothers in all their sports, and they were these big deal jocks and they would take her in to be kind and often she would beat them at everything. That's the truth. We would laugh until our tummies hurt and the boys were anything but amused.

Tory: My mom used to make me let my brothers win in races.

Reva: That's true. I think the other thing is that we have a farm and Tory loved the trees. There was no place to ever find Tory -- she was a tomboy - except in the trees. We would have to search the trees for her. She was always climbing, falling, and getting scraped.

SL: Do your kids influence your designs?
Tory: We are doing a little girls line right now, which we've just started. It's great. It's somewhat new still, but it's coming out well. We sell some things in the store but we're going to add to it. I saw some of the first samples for fall and it's these great snow jacket and leggings. So that's one way but then as far as my stepdaughters, they always have great input and they're all stylish in their own ways and I love to see how young girls are dressing and what they are caring about.

SL: What were some of your more mischievous capers that you pulled off as a youngster?
Tory: My brother Jamie and I would go down on Christmas morning and he would always compare and contrast our gifts. So one Christmas I wrapped many household items under the tree, like bricks and grapefruits, so his pile was enormous. He got down there and was very smug until he started unwrapping everything. It was actually really fun to do.

SL: Do you pull a lot of pranks?
Tory: Yeah, I definitely do a lot of that.

Reva:
I will definitely attest to that. I've been on the receiving end. We all have.

SL: What are your plans this Mother's Day?
Tory: We are going down to the farm this weekend with the boys.

Reva:
Looking forward to it. It's hard to get everyone together. We'll get together and swim and talk and play and eat.

SL: And there might be some pranks involved...
Reva: I'm sure there will be. There are eight grandchildren - one girl and seven boys!

Find out what other fashion industry insiders are sharing fond Mom memories.