NEW YORK — C. Wonder’s second Manhattan store is like the original SoHo unit on steroids. Now it wants to take its act overseas.
The 8,000-square-foot space, which opens Friday at the Shops at Columbus Circle at Time Warner Center, has more color and more props — including life-size multicolored striped zebras, polka-dot horses and six-foot logo teddy bears. There’s even an illuminated portal at the entrance with LED lights projecting the brand’s proprietary print.
“We created a lot more whimsical energy,” said J. Christopher Burch, founder and chief executive officer of Burch Creative Capital. “We’ve taken a much more fun approach to the world of C. Wonder. It’s become a place that makes you smile. In the old stores, customers loved the elegance and quality of our fixtures. We want people to have a great time, too. It’s a totally different electric energy. Every one of our stores needs to be different. If I could buy a submarine that’s safe, I’d put it in one of the stores.”
The store is divided into themed rooms. Burch’s favorite is the new “disco room,” with a wavy rug in Twister colors, grass green and white plastic stools and lights inspired by disco balls. “It has a psychedelic modern Sixties swirly theme to it,” he said. “We have a Moroccan room, a hacienda room and an English country house.”
Burch revealed that C. Wonder will enter its first international markets at the end of next year. “We’re meeting in Germany, Japan, Australia, Europe and South America,” he said. “In Europe, we’d enter Germany first. We’re deciding where we want to go first in Asia. All my businesses are global. That’s crucial to all of our brands. We’ve seen more acceptance of U.S. brands internationally.”
In the U.S., C. Wonder could ultimately open about 110 stores. Worldwide, the brand could have 300 to 350 units. “We’re looking at shops-in-shop,” he said. “The retailer has to buy into our total concept.”
Burch expects all of his nine brands to go global. Monika Chiang will open three to five locations this year, Electric Love Army will launch in the summer, along with 9 Christopher Street.
While Burch amped up the fun quotient of the store with bowls of candy, a gum-ball machine and mannequins holding gigantic balloons, he’s also focused on raising the quality of the products. “We introduced a 100 percent silk blouse, for $128 for prints and $98 for solid,” said Amy Shecter, president of C. Wonder. “We were using fabric blends before. We added a layer of about 15 percent premium product, such as cashmere, saffiano leather and hair calf.” A pink saffiano-leather clutch that converts to a shoulder bag is $148; a black calf-hair and leather handbag, $248.
Shecter said the biggest surprise for the company was consumer acceptance of C. Wonder apparel. A new category of dressier items includes a raincoat, $248, and sweaters embellished with rhinestones, $98. “We think this will bring in a slightly more sophisticated customer,” Shecter said. “We had her buying home products, now she’s buying rtw.”
The new store is C. Wonder’s seventh and will be the “largest-volume unit in the company,” Burch said. Plans are to open three units in 2012 — at Tysons Corner in McLean, Va., the Fashion Valley Mall in San Diego, Calif., and the King of Prussia Mall in King of Prussia, Pa. “Next year, we will open 30 to 50 stores,” Burch said. In mid-October, a holiday pop-up store will bow at Fifth Avenue and 21st Street in the Flatiron District. In the spring, the location will be converted to a permanent store.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast