There's no Critical Shopper column again today's Thursday Styles, but instead, the Times treats us to a profile of Burch Creative Capital CEO Chris Burch, the man who is, for better or worse, responsible for the nearly extinct retail debacle known as C.Wonder.
As far as we can tell, this is the first time that Burch has spoken in detail about the chain's failure, and as expected, he is somewhat guarded and just a little bit defensive. The article, by Laura M. Holson, recounts in detail the many mistakes of the ambitious rollout of the chain (along with some of Burch's other recent, unrelated blunders) including the ill-advised, expensive leases, the excessively rapid expansion, the costly overseas offices and, most prominently, the nearly universally recognized aesthetic similarities to his ex-wife Tory Burch's company's retail environments, products and general style. Unfortunately, Burch is legally restricted from discussing the lawsuit that brought C.Wonder and Tory Burch into civil court, but he does manage to speak about the chain in a way that is surprisingly remorseful, but ultimately not quite self-aware enough to fully comprehend why the venture was probably doomed from the start.
“I take full responsibility for the failure of C. Wonder,” Mr. Burch said in a telephone interview from his home in Miami. “Please understand that.” He said he wasn’t upset about losing his own money, estimated to be at least $70 million in investment and loans. “It’s not about my ego, O.K.?” he said. “It’s not about failing. It’s about the fact that this is a really good idea that should have been successful.”
While he still sees himself as something of a misunderstood visionary, he won't own up to the widely perceived notion that one of his main goals at C.Wonder was to show up his ex-wife's wildly successful brand which, in fairness, he did have a hand in creating —although exactly how big of one remains in question. The article is well worth reading at the very least as an anatomy of a retail venture gone wrong when there were so many opportunities for success despite its challenges, but for Burch it may just serve as a big caveat to anyone considering going into business with him in the future.
Revenge Retail Gone Awry? Tory Burch’s Ex-Husband Describes C. Wonder’s Fall By Laura M. Holson (NYTimes)