Tory Burch vs Marc Jacobs: Which Brand Comes Out on Top?

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Tory Burch vs Marc Jacobs
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Last Updated on July 26, 2022

Tory Burch and Marc Jacobs are both American fashion royalty. They share the Big Apple as their starting point and both have amassed huge empires by their sheer charisma and genius. Their companies are worn by celebrities and royalty alike and desired by millions of people all over the world.

But, have you ever wondered in a face-off between the two legends, who will come out on top?

Read on to find out everything there is to know about two of the most famous New Yorker brands, and most importantly how they compare in everything from origins to prices to most famous collections!

What Makes Tory Burch and Marc Jacobs Popular

Tory Burch

Tory Burch Handbags

Tory Burch is a $3.5 billion lifestyle brand that is very much based on the designer herself. 

Urban ballerinas and handbags in enough colors to put a crayon box to shame are one of Tory Burch’s most famous characteristics. Its use of color in garments throughout collections, in general, is a very important aspect of the brand. 

Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs Outfits

In Marc Jacob’s own words, his streetwise aesthetic that is a bit preppy, kinda grungy, and also definitely couture. It has also has won him the hearts of trend-setter gals from all over the world. 

Case in point: Sofia Coppola, Winona Ryder, Kate Moss, Shalom Harlow, Christy Turlington, and more have stood by his work for more than 30 years. 

Celebrities all over continue to choose him for myriad events and red carpets cementing the belief that his genius is very much alive and kicking. 

Winner for this category:

So if I were to invest in one piece from one of these brands I would go with the most easily recognizable, clothing from Marc Jacobs or a bag from Tory Burch.

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Origin story & Brand Recognition

Origin Story and Brand Recognition

Tory Burch

Tory Burch: Lady in sophisticated dress sat next to a silver service table

Tory Burch was born in a historic Georgian house in Pennsylvania and from a young age, despite her tomboyish attitude, she was surrounded by a very particular brand of elegance. 

She first studied art history and went on to work at Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang, and Narciso Rodriguez as she envisioned her own fashion empire and gathered relations in the industry. She launched her first collection out of the Upper East Side apartment in Manhattan, New York, that she shared with her husband and co-founder. Soon, the brand opened a downtown boutique and its amazing retail success became quite evident when its inventory was wiped clean on opening day. 

Burch then set her sights on a niche that was being overlooked by the current market: mid-career women with aspirations and Bergdorf moms that looked for affordable timeless quality pieces in good taste. 

She set her prices lower than the competition to bridge the gap between the target audience and the wares, making luxury accessible. With Oprah’s glowing endorsement around 2008, the brand soared in popularity. 

Read:

Tory Burch vs Michael Kors: The Battle for the Big Apple

Coach vs. Michael Kors

Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs with Naomi Campbell

Jacobs was born to a Jewish family in New York City. After his father died, his mother went on to remarry several times, which resulted in him moving in with his paternal grandmother to the Upper West Side (on Central Park West).

By 1984, Marc Jacobs was already collecting a bunch of awards at Parsons School of Design for his collection of oversized polka dot sweaters. Within days, the Manhattan boutique Charivari had commissioned a set, and shortly after his graduation he was being offered his own label. He created his first design under his own label in 1886, backed by his founding partner, Robert Duffy.

Despite such a blessed beginning, Jacobs struggled over the next few years. 

In 1992, he presented his infamous grunge show as the head of classic sportswear label Perris Ellis with mixed reviews. Meaning front-rowers loved it but his bosses didn’t, to the point the collection cost him his job. Later on, in 1994, Marc Jacobs launched his first full menswear collection under his own label, and later on, in 2001, he also created his secondary line Marc by Marc Jacobs.

But back to his most public success, in 1997, he got hired by LVMH to head Louis Vuitton. He was still set on his ways and he gambled it all in on two collaborations: one with 89s neon designer Stephen Sprouse and another with the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. The risk certainly paid off. The LV logo was turned into graffiti scribbles and Skittles rainbow colors and by 2013 when he left the company, he had transformed the brand into one of the most desired ones in the world proving he had the Midas touch. 

Back in New York, he focused fully on his own label. His irreverence and witty irony continue to create innovative designs that focus on how the streets reinterpret fashion every day. 

Winner for this category:

Despite Marc Jacobs’ career being amazing and him having proved his genius over and over I can’t help but admire how Tory Burch was always so focused on her own label. She never deviated from her goal, worked on other labels, or lost her focus. And because of that, her story was my favorite!

Price Ranges

Marc Jacobs Price Range

Tory Burch

Tory Burch Outdoor Gear

Tory Burch is considered an affordable luxury lifestyle brand. This means it sells high-quality items, that are somewhat affordable for the general public. I would say the brand is $$ to $$$. The lowest price on their ready-to-wear clothing (listed on their website at the moment of publication) is $98 for a bikini panty (with very little design) and the highest is $1,798 for a cotton coat that resembles a trench but is not waterproof. 

Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs Luxury Clothing: Group of diverse models wearing leopard print, crop tops and oversized cardigans plus more

I was surprised to find that Marc Jacobs is also considered an affordable luxury lifestyle brand. It sells high-quality items, that are somewhat affordable for the general public. I would say the brand is firmly set in the $$ to $$$ range. The lowest price on their ready-to-wear clothing (listed on their website at the moment of publication) is $65 for a tank top (white with the brand’s logo) and the highest is $895 for a plaid flannel jacket.

Winner for this category:

It is very tricky to compare the two brands’ prices since they are so similar. It really comes down to which brand you love the most. Both are high quality, both have a very defined aesthetic, and neither is irreplaceable. 

Popular Clothing and footwear

Tory Burch

Tory Burch Emerald Green Handbag

Tory Burch’s most popular line of items is without a doubt its prolific production of handbags, purses, and bags of all kinds. I would go as far as to say they’re iconic on the streets of New York and a symbol of belonging to a tribe of working women with high aspirations.

Here are some of its top products:

McGraw Stripe Dragonfly $598

151 Mercer Women Baguette $448

T Monogram Embroidered Mini Bucket Bag $498

Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs Fragrances

Despite having launched perfumes, eyewear lines, and everything in between, Marc Jacobs continues to be most known for its sartorial reinterpretations of streetwear. Anything that resembles his grunge collection or feels subversive and quirky tends to quickly run out!

Here are some of its top products:

Monogram Jacquard Large Tote Bag $350

The Snapshot $325

The 1930s dress $550

Winner for this category:

Definitely the Tory Burch bags. They are not only instantly recognizable but I can see them being much easier to combine than say the tote bag, despite it conceptually being kind of funny!

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Celebritiy endorsements

Celebrity Endorsements of Marc Jacobs and Tory Burch

Tory Burch

Tory Burch Brand

Tory Burch has tapped many celebrities over the years for myriad campaigns. Most recently (in 2022) she revealed Sydney Sweeney, the Euphoria actress, as brand ambassador. They also debuted a new campaign starring Benny Drama and Madelaine Petsch on April 26. 

Chrissy Newman was a brand ambassador in 2021, as well as Yara Sahidi, and Elisa Sednaoui starred in the campaign of that same year. 

In 2017 for International Women’s Day she starred Gwyneth Paltrow, Julianne Moore, Kerry Washington, Melinda Gates, Reese Witherspoon, and even Anna Wintour. 

Apart from that, other celebrities that wear and endorse the brand include Emilia Clarke, Kendall Jenner, Emmy Rossum, Jaime King, Jessica Alba, Jessica Hart, Kate Middleton, and Kerry Washington.

Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs Brand

Nicki Minaj and Kaia Gerber have both been repeatedly featured in Marc Jacobs’s campaigns. 

Cara Delevigne, Dakota and Elle Fanning, Kate Moss, Miley Cyrus, Sofia Coppola, Victoria Beckham, Christina Ricci, and Cher have also been photographed many times in the front row of the runway shows. They are just some of the self-declared die-hard fans of the designer.

Apart from that, other celebrities that wear and endorse the brand include Kevin Mazur, Jaime McCarthy, Dimitrios Kambouris, Charles Eshelman, Michael Ashton, Lady Gaga, Emily Ratajkowski, Selena Gomez, Adele, Julianne Moore, and Katy Perry.

Winner for this category:

Tory Burch, if Kate wears her I am sold. Truth is this is as good a reason as any. Both have amazing A-list supporters!

Famous Fashion Shows

Famous Fashion Shows

Tory Burch

Tory Burch Spring 2022

Be it because they are constantly dashing from one appointment to another or because they are fasting, it is a commonly acknowledged issue that people in the fashion industry tend to always be hungry. It then stands to reason that any event that plies them with food (drinks are a definite plus!) is bound to make a splash and get in their good graces from the get-go. This is precisely what happened with the recent Spring 2022 runway show from Tory Burch that took over Mercer Street.

Tory Burch recently opened a new boutique on the block that includes one-of-a-kind houseware hand-picked by the designer herself and her latest ready-to-wear collections. But for the event, she took over the whole block and celebrated with fellow neighbor merchants.  Showgoers were handed net bags at the entrance and were given free rein over stands that featured: fresh produce, potted plants, magazines, food, candies, and canned drinks. 

The collection itself was a treat that paid tribute to American designer Claire McCardell, who is credited with having invented sportswear as we know it today, and combined a strong artistic sensibility with strong shapes. There was a definite emphasis on ease and comfort, which were pillars upon which McCardell built her own collections 75 years ago.

Tory Burch on the Street

There were a lot of maxi dresses and long overcoats cinched at the waist, loose-legged pants with artful pleats that sat at the hip, and breezy sleeves on dropped shoulders. 

Tory Burch Streetwear 2

In Tory’s own words, her collection aimed to leave women feeling unencumbered, as well as pay tribute to how much McCardell had achieved in such little time. The reissue of a Capezio-made ballet flat and a striped ankle boot, both models previously used by the designer, drove that point home and were re-done with Tory’s masterful and poignant use of color. 

Tory Burch Streetwear with Gingham Patterns

Colors were rich and saturated, sunshine yellows, tans, cherry reds, apple greens, and even aubergines stood out. There were also a few plaids and checkered prints that blended right in between the color blocking. 

The juxtaposition of color and sculptural silver jewelry added a luxurious feel to an otherwise easygoing collection. Designs also paid tribute to design resources employed by McCardel like the hook-and-eye closures.

Tory Burch Striped Cotton Outfits

Striped cotton and color-blocked jersey day dresses showcased a comfortable glamor in what came to be called “2022’s version of a pop-over”. 

Tory Burch Practical Footwear

Practical footwear was a great choice for the cobblestone runway. Lots of flats, tied-up sandals, and mini heels made it easy for the models to glide down the runway effortlessly. 

Tory Burch Models on Street

It was all very wearable, you can actually picture the models walking straight off the runway and into the Soho streets and blending right in! 

Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs Spring 2017

This particular fashion runway show from Marc Jacobs is one of my favorites because it’s pretty much a rave, which is really understandable considering the general mindset that everything was going to hell in a handbasket in the US elections. It was presented as part of the New York Fashion Week, in 2017, at the Hammerstein Ballroom. 

Going out with a blast sounded pretty good at the time. 

Marc Jacobs Candy Colored Dreadlocks

Marc Jacob’s models sported candy-colored dreadlocks tied in messy buns on the top of their heads and super high platforms that made put them around 7 feet tall. There were sparkles, satin, ruffled tulle, snakeskin, denim, striped socks and outerwear, and camouflage. 

Marc Jacobs with pink and innocent style clothing on runway

The palette felt young, innocent, and superbly alive. Definitely what you’d want to be caught into if you had to go out one last time with a bang. 

Marc Jacobs 2015 runway show

This runway show came after Marc Jacobs merged Marc by Marc Jacobs with his mainline range (around the end of 2015) which resulted in a spread of haute couture stuff and more budget-friendly stuff like the jeans and army jackets. 

Marc Jacobs Embroidered outfits on runway show

Despite hoodies feeling a bit under classed by other garments, Jacobs came up with a pretty unified collection and with a way of upping the game of low-cost pieces while making the high fashion items gel with the rest of the collection. Part of the magic is thanks to Julie Verhoeven’s illustrations that were embroidered onto sweatshirts, towering shoes, and bags alike. 

Retro Inspired Marc Jacobs Clothing on Runway Show

Of course, the finer garments resulted in more eye-catching ensembles. Like the mod, fur-collared, and A-lined coats in metallic lamé or the ones sporting rainbow-colored sequins. There was also the crocheted cardigan with feathers at the shoulders or the metallic doublet jacket. 

Winner for this category:

Marc Jacobs. Despite loving the whole experience that Tory created around her runway show, the craftmanship of Marc Jacob’s collection is superb. I would be happy to acquire any of the pieces featured on the runway. The craftmanship, attention to detail, and mastery of diverse embellishment techniques are astounding!

What are their sustainable practices?

Sustainable Practices

Tory Burch

There is not enough relevant information to make an informed decision on the brand’s sustainable practices. Which in and of itself is enough reason to avoid it if this is something that you weigh when you are deciding what businesses to support. 

Marc Jacobs

The brand has high standards for sustainability and supply chain transparency. Despite this claim in their own words, their rating is not good enough since it uses few eco-materials and there is no evidence that it minimizes its textile waste. Little of its supply chain is certified by labor standards. It does have a basic formal policy to protect animal welfare. It uses leather, wool, and exotic animal hair but it doesn’t use angora, down, animal skin, or fur. 

Winner for this category:

Marc Jacobs, hands down. You have a right to know how the products you buy affect the planet or the issues you care about. And some policies and measures in place are always better than nothing. 

Final Verdict: Who wins?

Who Wins Between Marc Jacobs and Tory Burch

If I didn’t have in mind the sustainability part, I would have to go with Tory Burch. 

Mainly, because I think that Marc Jacobs’s genius is mostly reflected in his couture lines and dresses for the red carpet, which is of course not the collections available to most of us. His ready-to-wear is kind of run-of-the-mill despite having some standalone pieces that are quite nice. 

All in all, I like Tory’s style more, and I think that it’s much easier to wear for the layman person. But the sustainability part is a real low blow. 

I really hope that going forward, the company realizes that sustainability is the future and gets its stuff in order. Until they do that, despite everything… Marc Jacobs has my vote. 

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Lorena Lombardo is a fashion designer specialized in trend forecasting and fashion journalism. She studied at the UAL (University of London), ORT (Universidad ORT Uruguay), and taken various courses about traditional craftsmanship while living in Tokyo. Some of her favorite memories during the 90s include wearing bucket hats and trying to copy Rachel’s hairstyle. Her absolute favorite show was Buffy: the Vampire Slayer but she was also a huge fan of Clueless because of its amazing fashion choices. Her top track of the decade is currently disputed between How soon is Now? by the Smiths and Here with me by Dido. Both also happen to be the opening songs for two great 90s shows: Charmed and Roswell. Coincidence? I think not!