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Sitting between driftwood lamps and a rack of 1950s mod swimsuits, Tory Burch inhales deeply from the white ginger-blossom lei around her neck. Behind her, a formidable line of well-dressed women stretches all the way down an ikat-accented stairway before spilling onto Kalakaua Avenue, in the heart of Waikiki. They’ve assembled for the grand opening of Burch’s first Hawaiian boutique and, if their perseverance prevails, a photo op with the designer herself.
Eight years ago, a then-unknown Burch launched her first store on another, chillier island: Manhattan. Today marks the opening of her 68th store worldwide, with Tory Burch now a household name synonymous with bohemian chic. “I never could have dreamed it would have launched to this extent,” Burch says. “My original five-year plan was to have three stores.”
There’s a Hawaiian expression, ha’aha’a, that means “dignity in humility,” and Burch, who appears almost embarrassed by the traffic jam of fans, has it. A single mom with three sons (including 14-year-old twins), the designer speaks with her clamoring customers more often about the difficulties and joys of motherhood than about her upcoming collection. “My boys complain all the time that I only make women’s clothes,” Burch says — but their biggest complaint is that their jet-setting mom doesn’t always take them with her on business trips.
“They are so jealous. They wish they could be here to surf,” she says. “And they would kill me if they found out I spent my entire time in Hawaii without getting in the ocean.” Lucky for her, the new boutique is just a block from the beach. —AARON KANDELL