i wonder

The Tory Burch vs. Chris Burch battle has all the makings of a really good Lifetime movie–minus a murder and/or abduction.

For those folks who have no idea what I’m talking about, a brief Cliff Notes rundown….

This golden-haired designer–born Tory Robinson–hailed from Philly, graduated from Penn, headed to NYC, worked at Harper’s Bazaar, followed by Polo Ralph Lauren, and then Vera Wang. In 2004, along with her husband, financier Christopher Burch, she launched her own fashion label–a Hamptons-meets-Manhattan look complete with an instantly-recognizable geometric logo. Oprah raved about Tory’s tunics on the air…and I needn’t tell you what happened after that, as a word from Winfrey virtually guarantees instant superstardom.

So the line took off, but the marriage failed. In ’06, Chris and Tory parted ways (maritally speaking); though he remained, until last month, on the Burch board.  He also got busy starting his own fashion brand, C. Wonder.

As in, I wonder how much I can make my products look like Tory’s without pissing her off.

Tory's logo...

Chris's logo...

A Tory store...

A Chris store...

Rumor has it, she’s pissed. And after doing a side-by-side comparison of the two lines, understandably so. But here’s where my moral dilemma comes in: As a person who hates paying top dollar just because something has a big-name logo on it, I find myself (how best to put this?) empathizing with Chris’s desire to launch Hampton’s-meets-Manhattan goods at non-Eastern-seaboard prices.

Have a look and decide for yourself….

Tory Burch Roslyn Stripe Tote in canvas; $395

C.Wonder Collegiate Stripe Zip Top Tote in cotton canvas; $88

Tory Burch Brigitte Mini Dress; $325

C. Wonder Belted Shirdress; $128

Tory Burch Brigitte Blouse; $195

C. Wonder Printed Band Collar Blouse; $98

Tory Burch Nylon Robinson E-Tablet Sleeve; $135

C. Wonder Nylon Tablet Case; $68

Tory Burch Hinge Bracelet; $117 (on sale)

Elva Fields for C. Wonder Resin Hammered Bangle; $48

Copyright infringement?

Disgruntled spouse?

Brilliant marketing?


I wonder what YOU think….

  • Probably not a copyright issue right now, although legislation is on the table to protect initial designs for 3 years to preclude knock-offs of hot items from their inception. Definitely an infringement of trade dress here. Palette and style plagiarism is rampant.
    Aesthetically, Tory Burch’s items look better designed and of a higher quality than her disgruntled husband’s. It’s not brilliant marketing to replicate someone else’s creative efforts. It’s merely theft.
    Just on general principles, I would buy hers over his. Damn the price.

    May 8, 2012 at 3:16 am