Hello-Hello, it is definitely a “morning after” here at the Prepatorium. That is said with apolitical intent, it is simply the aftereffect of everything that precedes a national election: all the hope and hype, the campaigning and coverage and phone calls followed by the inevitable joy for those whose candidates and ballot measures performed as hoped, and the disappointment for others saddened by results. That is a very long-winded way of saying we are moving a little slowly today, having watched returns into the wee hours, like so many others.
At the heart of the dispute is whether Mr. Burch, in creating his own store concept, called C. Wonder, veered too far into the retail territory of the wildly successful Tory Burch business, which the Burches founded in 2003, by copying some of her signature preppy looks and the interior designs of her stores. (They divorced in 2007.)
The ‘monogram shop’ at a C. Wonder store.
Things became heated when Mr. Burch filed suit in October, alleging that Ms. Burch & her board are sabotaging his new brand, C. Wonder. Then Tory Burch countersued, a Women’s Wear Daily story shares some of the claims in that filing:
“….the “copying” of the Tory Burch “brand image,” according to her attorneys, who provided a litany of examples in which media outlets have confused C. Wonder with Tory Burch. One such instance was when Gayle King on her CBS morning program told Chris Burch that she mistook his brand for Tory’s brand at first glance.
Tory Burch’s counterclaims also detailed how C. Wonder was able to “copy” her image through installing similar lacquered front doors, store fixtures, furnishings, area rugs and wall treatments.”
Below, the new C. Wonder store at the Time Warner Center.
Back to Eric Wilson’s piece from On the Runway:
But some of the sharpest points came in Ms. Burch’s countersuit. It includes examples of designs that the Tory Burch company considers to be knockoffs, including sandals with the similar placement of logos, khaki cardigans, leopard-print wallets and even clogs. The similarities were noted down to the lacquered doors of both retailers – orange at Tory Burch and green at C. Wonder – and the pintucked upholstered poufs with pleated trims used for décor.
Below, C. Wonder’s Saffiano Wallet and a Tory Burch Coin Purse.
It wouldn’t take long to pull together any number of similar items from the two retailers, if given time I think most of us could dig up many pieces from other designers/retailers that bear the same traits, coloring, logo placement, etc., fashion is filled with merchandise that isn’t always original. Vanity Fair makes the case much better than I could, also putting things in historical context, in a piece titled “Knockoff. Who’s There?”
“Friends of Tory Burch are criticizing her ex-husband’s line, C. Wonder, as a down-market version of her signature uptown-downtown boho blend. But she too has stood on the shoulders of—and undersold—giants.”
Here is one of the slides illustrating the sidebar story.
Another Vanity Fair slide.
As we mentioned, one of the more intriguing aspects of the entire situation is Judge Leo Strine, and his comments surrounding the case. More in Alexandra Steigrad’s WWD story:
At a scheduling conference on Thursday, Strine, of Delaware Chancery Court, weighed in….for some reason, I get all the preppy clothier cases, because I’ve had J. Crew. I’ve had — I think because I’m culturally steeped in it since I was nine years old and learned what was hard for a kid from Baltimore, duck shoes? What’s a duck shoe? You know, and then you see all these freaks wearing this really ugly — I like L.L. Bean, but those duck shoes are ugly. I mean, there’s no way around it.
The Judge certainly isn’t shy in sharing his opinions.
On the shopping habits of WASPs: “Real WASPs actually don’t go and pay full Polo price. They don’t pay full Polo price at Macy’s. No way. They actually will find a bargain. That’s how they got to be, you know, WASPs.’
One more group of comments from the Judge, again, from WWD.
“I’ve been deep in it, in an autumnal Cheever phase. I’ve been reading all kinds of Cheever. I’ll have to just keep that up through the — through the case. Have you read your Cheever lately? You know who he is? I mean, it’s — you know, and ‘Mad Men’ will be coming back at some point in time. I think if you read Cheever, go see the new Virginia Woolf revival and watch ‘Mad Men.’ We’ll be all geared up and in the mood for this sort of drunken WASP fest.
There’s not much I can add to that, is there? Other than a hope the Burches can settle things amicably, these situations really become very nasty quickly and it looks like we’re headed down that path.