I first heard of the Burch name a few years back, when local fashionistas began padding around in ballet slippers with what looked like Mardi Gras doubloons attached to the toe. These were Tory Burch flats. At a couple hundred dollars per pair, they were a little rich for my blood.
But I wanted them. Burch devotees claimed the flats were so comfortable! Every fashion blogger seemed to have a pair.
Fast forward a couple years. Turns out there's another Burch in fashion: J. Christopher Burch, Tory's ex-husband. Christopher has his own brand, C. Wonder. He debuted his first store in New York in October 2011. This February, a C. Wonder store opens at The Shops at Canal Place (333 Canal St., second floor, 504-524-5926) — the first location in Louisiana.
It's worth mentioning that the average C. Wonder product costs less than $50.
Was the Burch split like the divorce between the owners of Tommy's Cuisine, which spawned a new restaurant (Irene's Cuisine) with a similar menu of Italian-Creole fare? Could the breakup have resulted in new fashion options? Most importantly, could I get the poor man's equivalent of Tory Burch flats from C. Wonder?
I asked C. Wonder's publicist. She replied that there is no connection between the brands.
Fortunately, while the price points are not congruent, the quality purportedly is. From the press release: "[C. Wonder's] incredible value is matched by the fine materials and thoughtful details ... Lacquer and enamel, calf-hair and suede, monogramming and personalization are all used generously."
You can get products monogrammed in the store, which also carries women's clothing, shoes, jewelry, electronics and home and fashion accessories. Mobile points of sale allow customers to make purchases anywhere in the store, not just at a stationary check-out counter.
So far, this seems to be a clear case of customers benefitting from a rancorous split. We're left with more fashion choices and a greater variety of price points. Which should be a coup for J. Christopher Burch's brand. As the press release says, "After all, the C in C. Wonder represents the customer."