C. Wonder, the clothing and lifestyle chain founded by Tory Burch's ex-husband, will close its 11 remaining U.S. stores.
Chris Burch married Tory Robinson in 1996, and they cofounded Tory Burch in 2004. He remained on the board of the company after their divorce in 2006, but relations allegedly became strained in 2011 when Chris launched C. Wonder, often referred to as a rip-off of the Tory Burch brand. Vanity Fair once dubbed their unique situation "one of the oddest ex-spousal relationships in New York society." According to BuzzFeed's report on the store's closure:
Some in the industry dubbed C. Wonder an act of "revenge retail," a mentality that may have pushed the chain into a number of ill-advised, costly leases. The company, for example, spent a couple of years opening an expensive Flatiron store in Manhattan; internally, it's believed that Chris chose that spot because a hair salon favored by Tory Burch is upstairs.
In a 2012 New York magazine profile: "To Tory Burch, he might as well have erected a giant lacquered middle finger in the front window, directly facing the orange-lacquered doors of her eponymous stores a few blocks away." That year, after pressure from the Tory Burch board to make changes to C. Wonder, Chris sued his ex-wife for blocking the sale process of his stake in Tory Burch (her lawyer told WWD that the company was unwilling to let Chris "sell out his interest and get hundreds of millions of dollars and continue to compete against the company"); Tory then counter-sued, alleging that he used his role in her company to develop copycat products for C. Wonder. Many of Tory's friends in the industry, including Anna Wintour and Diane Von Furstenberg, publicly denounced Chris Burch and downplayed his role in the company. The exes settled later that year to confidential terms; the deal made Tory Burch a billionaire.
Several years on, C. Wonder has been struggling financially; in November reports surfaced of staff cuts and store closures. Now that we've reached the end of the road, it seems that no one is too torn up about it—not even Chris Burch himself:
Sources told BuzzFeed News in November that Chris Burch has distanced himself from C. Wonder in the past year, focusing on other investments instead. He's been working on a new line with Ellen DeGeneres called E.D. and spending a lot of time in Indonesia, two sources say, where he and a friend acquired a resort called Nihiwatu on the island of Sumba.
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