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

Tory Burch vs. Michael Kors
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Last Updated on July 26, 2022

Manhattan is home to a bunch of world-famous brands that cater to somewhat wealthy customers that have managed to become celebrity favorites, including Tory Burch and Michael Kors

Sometimes it’s very hard to compare them since they have found different niches of audience to target and in a way, coexist, but if you were to compare them, which do you think is the best brand?

Read on to find out all about these two fashion moguls, how they came to establish their brands, what they specialize in, how much is the cost of their garments, and much more! 

What Makes Tory Burch and Michael Kors Popular?

What makes a brand stand out from competitors and reach its target audience? What makes them better in the eyes of their consumers compared to the shop next door? We are here to find out precisely what makes Tory Burch and Michael Kors appeal to their loyal fan base. 

Tory Burch

Kate Spade at a temple

Some of you might be wondering, why is Tory Burch so popular? The brand is your quintessential Big Apple staple and it’s a favorite from Manhattan dwellers at large. Much of its appeal is based on its designer and her personality, aesthetic preferences, and background. 

The brand is famous for colorful ballerinas and handbags but, is Tory Burch a luxury brand? The company is worth $3.5 billion and is considered a semi-luxury lifestyle brand, mainly because of its high-quality products at relatively accessible prices. 

Most people ask themselves, is Tory Burch out of style? Surprisingly, it isn’t. The brand has managed to stay up to date and appeal to customers with each new runway collection. It is also famous for the same vibrant use of color in its garment collections. 

Read: 5 Brands That Are As Bag-Toting As Tory Burch

Michael Kors

The Designer Michael Kors

Michael Kors is most famous for maintaining a design aesthetic that is focused on clean lines and a production that uses quality materials. The brand is famed for an elegant and rich simplicity that allows customers to imprint their own character on the clothes.

He has definitely built a reputation as a designer that understands what women want, how they live, and how they feel in their skin and clothes. With that in mind, the brand combines a pragmatic approach with a chic style that is void of superlatives.

But, is Michael Kors a luxury brand? Yes. However, there are some that would argue that in recent years the brand has certainly lost some of its appeal, particularly compared to its peak popularity in the 2000s.

Read: 5 Brands That Resemble Michael Kors… A Lot!

Winner for this category:

I would go with Tory Burch considering how Michael Kors has fallen out of popularity in recent years. This might change this or next year if they manage to find an in with younger audiences that are currently experiencing the 00s style revival trend. 

Check Out: Coach vs. Michael Kors: Throwing Handbags at Dawn

Origin story

Woman wearing michael kors satchel

We all love to know what came before the success and how our favorite brands managed 

Tory Burch

Kate Spade sitting on a blue sofa

Tory Burch grew up surrounded by the classical elegance of Pennsylvania, born in a historic Georgian house on rolling acres. Her father, heir to a paper-cup fortune, and her mother both had a very patrician chic style which she soaked from an early age. 

She first studied art history but soon after started working at Ralph Lauren, then Vera Wang, and Narciso Rodriguez. She already had her fashion empire in mind and was establishing relations and getting an idea of the industry worked that she would later apply with great success to her own brand. When she launched her first collection, it was a total success. The brand soon opened a downtown boutique on the Upper East Side, and on its opening day, the inventory was wiped clean off its shelves!

Her focus was always on the overlooked mid-career woman that aspired to more and the moms that shopped at Bergdorf looking for affordable quality pieces in good taste. With this in mind, the brand set its prices lower than the competition in order to reach its target audience. The goal: make luxury accessible. 

Michael Kors

Michael Kors Fashion

Michael Kors has made a career out of his mastery of the clean-lined, sport genre of luxury. He first transformed his parents’ basement into a mini boutique where he sold clothes he had put together himself as a teen and then studied for a short time at the Fashion Institute of Technology

He dropped out to design an in-house line for Lothar’s, a 57th Street store. His window arrangement at Lothar got noticed by Dawn Mello, who would become one of the world’s most famous luxury retail executives, and asked him who had made the clothes. Her interest urged him to start working on his own brand and after he launched it, it was quickly bought by Bergdorf. 

His brand is all about creating classic clothes from fabulous fabrics. Clean lines that can withstand the passage of time and to which clients can add their own personalities. He also became a staple figure on Project Runway, the reality-tv show, in 2004. His entire take on designing is that with simplicity there’s no faking it. It is unadulterated elegance and chicness. 

Winner for this category:

I am all there for Michael Kors’s kind of simple elegance. It feels for me the ultimate luxury, with the high-quality fabrics and timeless designs. It feels like one of his pieces could be worn several times through the decades, never losing its charm. 

Price Ranges

Price Ranges

Sometimes it’s difficult to situate a high-end brand in a clear price bracket because what they usually do is create cheaper ranges that are affordable to most people and then pricier, oftentimes specialty items, of superior quality and design that are more expensive. These items are not just good, they are often better, done with superior artisanship and with more expensive materials.

Tory Burch

Tory Burch is considered a semi-affordable luxury lifestyle brand, meaning its prices are fairly accessible. It sells high-quality items, in the $$ to $$$ range. 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. 

Michael Kors

Michael Kors is considered a luxury fashion brand in the $$$ to $$$$ range. Despite having some affordable garments in some of its lines, it also carries very expensive high-fashion dresses. The most expensive dress on their website (at the moment of publication) is a $9,990 dress made of embellished floral stretch tulle and the lowest is a $23.4 camouflage nylon sports bra (there’s also a dust bag for $5 and a face mask for $9 among other small accessories). 

Winner for this category:

Despite having several items on sale, Michael Kors is, in general, more expensive than Tory Burch. That being said the brand does have more range in what elements and garments it covers. There is makeup and even cellphone cover cases on its website so everyone could possibly buy something of the brand if they so wanted which I think is great. However, the mid-range stuff seems to be quite similar in quality to Tory’s so the winner would really come down to subjective taste or preference in the designer’s aesthetic.  

Best for Bags?

Best for Bags

Tory Burch

Tory Burch’s most sold items are without doubt from its bag collection. The brand has a myriad of handbags, purses, totes, baguettes, and more. Actually, it is pretty hard not to spot one or two if you are walking on the streets of the Upper East Side of Manhattan. 

Here are some of its top products:

T Monogram Straw Bell Bag $548

Ella Straw Basket Tote $398

Fleming Convertible Shoulder Bag $598

Michael Kors

Michael Kors has a fair share of pretty handbags that cover a wide range of luxurious designs in very easy-to-combine prints and colors. The brand also usually has pretty interesting sale events where $100 to $150 dollars are reduced from its original prices, making them much more affordable than other similar styles from competitor brands. 

Here are some of its top products:

Marilyn Medium Logo Tote Bag $171

Rhea Mini Color-Block Logo Backpack $223.5

Bradshaw Medium Logo and Leather Messenger Bag $265.5

Winner for this category:

Since the quality of both brands is very similar, I would have to go with Michael Kors because it’s a bit more affordable, particularly considering the sales prices. I also like the designs more because in general, they are much easier to wear several times and with different ensembles. 

You May Like: 10 Designer 90s Bags That Give Carrie Bradshaw a Run for Her Money

Best for their other clothing lines?

Clothing Lines of Tory Burch and Michael Kors

Tory Burch

Tory Burch’s clothing is particularly good when it comes to the use of color and achieving a relaxed yet elegant vibe that looks like it’s been made to wear in the Hamptons. That being said, I found the prices quite high! There is a t-shirt for $198, with a lettuce print that really surprised me.

Some of my favorite garments on its website right now are:

Plaited-Rib Short-Sleeve Sweater $328

High-Rise Straight Jean $328

Logo Polo Sweater $448

Michael Kors

Michael Kors has an extensive clothing collection so there is something for everyone. There’s the recent collaboration with sportswear and then more subtle garments from the ready-t-wear collection with a wide range of colors to choose from. 

Some of my favorite garments on its website right now are:

MMK X ellesse Color-Block Cotton Blend Zip-Up Jacket $195

Camouflage Stretch Organic Cotton Cargo Pants $131.25

Palm Stretch Organic Cotton Poplin Cutout Dress $146.25

Logo Print Satin Ciré Trench Coat $266.25

Winner for this category:

Michael Kors, definitely. There was more range and different garments to appealed more to me both in style and general prices. 

Celebrity endorsements

Celebrity Endorsements

Tory Burch

During the years, Tory Burch had managed to secure many celebrities for her campaigns, and many more use her products on a regular basis. In 2022, Sydney Sweeney, the Euphoria actress, was named ambassador, and the brand debuted a new campaign starring Benny Drama and Madelaine Petsch on April 26. 

Previously, in 2021, Chrissy Newman was the brand ambassador and the campaign featured that same year starred Elisa Sednaoui. For 2017’s International Women’s Day the campaign featured Gwyneth Paltrow, Julianne Moore, Kerry Washington, Melinda Gates, Reese Witherspoon, and even Anna Wintour. 

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

Michael Kors

There are a lot of celebrities that love Michael Kors and wear the brand: Jennifer Lopez, Natalie Portman, Miranda Kerr, Blake Lively, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Heidi Klum are some of the most notorious A-listers that come to mind. 

Kate Hudson, Dakota Johnson, and Amanda Seyfriend have all made appearances wearing the Michael Kors Tenby bag to events and publicity gigs. 

The brand has also featured Solange Knowles, Nina Agdal, Soo Joo Park, Sofia Richie, and Simi & Haze Khadra in past campaigns. 

Winner for this category:

Both brands are very well-liked in America, and both get worn a lot in Hollywood. That being said it feels like Tory Burch has more reach when it comes to celebrity power!

Check Out: The Insatiable List: “Big Six” 90s Supermodels

What are their sustainable practices?

Sustainable Practices: Lady holding handbag

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’re deciding what businesses to support. 

Michael Kors

Michael Kors is owned by Capri Holdings, which is rated as not good enough on the Good on You Directory. Mainly because it uses few eco-friendly materials and there is no evidence that it reduces its carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions neither on its supply chain nor in its direct dealings. 

Winner for this category:

Since both brands have a lot of ground to cover to become relatively sustainable, I would say that neither is good enough to be considered remotely responsible for its environmental impact. Tory Burch doesn’t inform its clients and Michael Kors has failed to take the most basic measures. For me, they completely fail in this category!

Final Verdict: Who wins?

Tory Burch vs Michael Kors: Who Wins?

Despite really liking Tory Burch, when it comes to design and aesthetics I am all for Michael Kors. I really like his style as a designer and I have found his commentary on fashion on Project Runways super interesting. I can really see his opinions reflected on the brand, which is great!

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

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Lorena Lombardo
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!