Enough is enough. Tory Burch will not go quietly into the night in her fabulous Reva flats. Yesterday she filed a countersuit against ex-husband Chris Burch for allegedly stealing her company secrets to create “knockoff” brand C. Wonder. This means this bloody business battle, that the case’s trial judge perfectly labeled as a ” a “drunken WASP fest”, is far from over (even though Ms. Burch is Jewish.)
This whole thing started when Chris Burch tried to sell his stake in Tory’s now $2 billion company which he helped launch. WWD reported that earlier this fall he filed a six-count lawsuit against his ex-wife and former business partner as well as the boardmembers of Tory Burch LLC and Isla Capital, a subsidiary of a private equity firm with a stake in the company. According to NYMag, Chris is accusing Tory of something called tortious interference, a legal term for intentionally sabotaging his contractual or other business relationships.
But of course Tory would want to prevent Chris from selling his stakes considering he has launched a business that is competing with hers, literally by copying her signature styles and aesthetic. Tory calls C. Wonder “a knockoff brand selling lower-quality products at lower prices . . . And he was doing so . . . as an insider who had been given some of the most competitively sensitive information the company possessed.”
Chris has been playing dirty and Tory Burch is sick of it. Last month WWD reported:
As for his ex-wife, he said her prior experience in the fashion industry was limited to public relations and marketing work in the apparel sector, and that she “never operated any business and had never been employed as a clothing designer.”
Burch noted his extensive contributions to Tory Burch from his experience in start ups and as a venture capitalist to raise $10 million from outside investors to start the company in addition to his initial investment of $2 million. And while Burch said his significant contacts with suppliers and manufacturers helped with the business, “Ms. Burch, while talented, [did] not have the core business experience necessary to assemble a team of top executives.”
And now Tory is firing back. In her suit she says “Chris wasted the company’s time, money and energy pursing potential factories that almost never panned out.” She claimed he even presented a cheaper copy of her famous Reva ballet slipper, but “Chris did not even realize the copy was made of plastic, not leather.”
According to The New York Post, Chris’ lawyer, Andrew J. Rossman, said Tory’s claims:
“are absolutely baseless. We are pleased the court has granted our request for an expedited trial in early spring, and we look forward to refuting their claims and proving ours.
“Tory Burch didn’t invent the cardigan sweater or the ballet flat. And she doesn’t have a monopoly on bright colors or gold buttons. C. Wonder has the same right to these timeless and basic elements as every other brand.”
Yes, Ralph Lauren and Tory both produce preppy, classic American clothes but there is something eerily similiar about C.Wonder and Tory Burch products. Plus, Ralph Lauren was never on the Tory Burch board. Chris Burch knows what it is the secret Tory Burch sauce and he is trying to steal it from her.
Diane von Furstenberg told Vanity Fair:
“It’s not just credit. Everyone takes credit—that doesn’t really matter. What I find bizarre and nasty, and can’t possibly finish well for him, is that he is… hurting [her business] by sabotaging it, by copying it. I don’t understand.”
Of course, why wouldn’t he want to steal it? In just eight years she has built a $2 billion business and her signature is recognized world wide. People want her clothes and they want to be her. Cosmopolitan Editor in Chief Joanna Coles told Rock Center:
“People love her. They want to be her. And she’s really nice. Tory is not a monstrous, crazy fashion b*tch. She is an incredibly liked, well-respected woman. This is a woman that men fight over. It all adds to the mystique of Tory Burch. Her clothes exude that.”
One person quoted in the article said part of the reason Chris is doing this to his ex-wife is because he wants to maintain power over her. “He’s mad as hell that she’s as successful and powerful as she is. It’s time for him to sell his shares and get out of her f*cking life,” said the source.
Yes, Chris may have helped his wife at the time get her business started but she was the one who did it. She took that business from her kitchen table and turned it into a $2 billion world-recognized brand in only eight short years. Tory Burch is available at 49 free-standing Tory Burch stores across the U.S., 24 international stores, toryburch.com, and over 1,000 select department and specialty stores worldwide, according to Business Insider.
She is a strong, capable, smart woman and she is not going to take this threat to her business lightly even if she is “nice.” Watch out Emily Thorne.