Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Will Atlantans' Get to "C. Wonder"?

Chris Burch poses in front of a truck promoting the opening of C. Wonder's SoHo flagship store

Chris Burch, ex-husband of Tory Burch and co-founder of her popular namesake clothing line, has opened the first of many planned C. Wonder retail stores. C. Wonder's first location opened in SoHo this past October. Already three additional locations have opened: Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey, The Westchester in Westchester, New York and Roosevelt Field Mall on Long Island, New York which just opened this week.

C. Wonder's interior looks like a Kate Spade-ifield Tory Burch store. Unlike Tory and Lily though, the merchandise resembles that of famed Manhattan retailer Henri Bendel. C. Wonder's bread and butter merchandise is accessories for both personal and home use as well as handbags and shoes. The store also carries some clothing, but not much. Much of what I saw was private label merchandise, something many in Atlanta were disappointed that the new Henri Bendel carried exclusively.

The similarities between Henri Bendel and C. Wonder may be in more than their merchandise, as a number of Bendel employees and executives were hired away to be a part of C. Wonder.

The amazing part? The prices are very reasonable! The store features a number of monogrammed items like mugs and wine stoppers, and even has a cord winder for three bucks! I'm often critical of ridiculous prices, but the affordability of many of the items I looked at on their recently launched ecommerce site are pretty darn amazing.

I had assumed the "C" in C. Wonder was for Chris but in fact it's not. According to Chris Burch "The letter c in the store’s name refers primarily to the emphasis on customer service, but it also alludes to the “charming, chic and cheerful” spirit of the brand."

Tory Burch opened her flagship boutique in New York's Nolita neighborhood in February 2004. Not long after, in August 2005, she opened one of her first out of state boutiques right here in Atlanta on the first level of Phipps Plaza.

While no immediate plans for an out of state expansion have been officially announced, I'm hearing talk C. Wonder may open here by the third quarter of next year. Apparently the former Calvin Klein space on the second level of Lenox Square, currently home to the gaudy and out of place PURE, is the space C. Wonder is considering. Previously there was talk that AllSaints Spitalfields was interested in this space, but they have since reduced their expansion plans.

Chris Burch is no amateur when it comes to creating popular brands. He started his first brand, sportswear label Eagle’s Eye, when he was just 21. He went on to launch Jawbone wireless accessories, VOSS bottled water and the Faena Hotel, in Buenos Aires, Argentina in the years that followed.

Though its been five years since their divorce, Chris Burch is still co-chairman of the Tory Burch board and owns a third of the brand. Within the past week though, Tory has apparently shopped her ex-husband's stake to other investors. The asking price, a whopping $600 million, suggesting the company's valuation at $2 billion. With Chris financing C. Wonder himself, I'm sure the proceeds would be put to good use, as he plans to (eventually) open 300 stores, with about a third of them in the U.S.

What are your thoughts on C. Wonder? Does it look like your new favorite store? Do you think it would do well at Lenox Square? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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2 comments:

Coray said...

It is a beautiful store. I visited the Roosevelt Field location yesterday. The store was crowded and I did see many Cwonder bags being carried throughout the mall. A competitor for Anthropologies market share? too early to tell. I was not compelled to buy anything but will certainly check back.

Molly said...

Would love to see this at Lenox. Anthro-philes would enjoy it. And would fill a gap left when C&B leaves.