Christopher Burch's C. Wonder Comes to Southampton
by rachel felder
Pops of color abound in C. Wonder’s Southampton shop.
For Christopher Burch, the hyperenergized founder of C. Wonder, making the decision to open a pop-up store practically around the corner from his weekend home in Southampton was simple. “Southampton is the most beautiful place in the world in my opinion,” he says. “And it’s incredibly fun to leave your house, walk to your store, and see customers enjoying your products.”
That store on the corner of Main Street and Jobs Lane, C. Wonder’s fifth retail location, is an inviting and deliberately quirky Hamptons version of what has quickly become the company’s trademark—a shop overflowing with items you don’t exactly need but absolutely can’t resist such as sunglasses, jewelry, enamel picture frames, initialed mugs, and decorative plates displayed alongside cardigans, cropped skinny jeans, and Crayola-hued headphones. It’s all presented in a magnetically bright setting with background music designed to make you smile.
In addition to C. Wonder’s usual array, the Southampton location spotlights plenty of beach-centric items, like picnic baskets, espadrilles, and neon-colored bikes with leather seats. “It’s a place that’s just a lot of fun,” Burch says of the shop as he grins with infectious enthusiasm. “There’s a lot of energy. We want people to smile and be happy in our store—that’s critical. We’re not really super-sophisticated, but the way we’ve done the products is different and exciting. And it’s reasonably priced but very high quality.”
Burch—who seems to have around 12 ideas on myriad subjects every minute and includes mismatched flip-flops in his daily uniform— is one of those Hamptons movers and shakers who appears to know everyone or at least everyone that’s worth knowing. That makes his life out East all the more surprising. “I really don’t like to go out,” he admits. “I love hanging out in my garden; I love to play tennis and just have friends over to relax. I like to read the paper. It’s as casual as you get.”
His large shingle-roofed home in Southampton isn’t necessarily placid though. Burch’s lively three sons— Sawyer, 11, and 14-year-old twins, Nicholas and Henry—are out many weekends. The boys and their dad typically go to the beach or out on their boat, and spend summer afternoons fishing, water-skiing, and playing basketball. “It’s like any parent,” says Burch, who, prior to opening his first C. Wonder store last October, was cochair of his ex-wife Tory Burch’s eponymous fashion line. “You just hang out and do what they like to do.” Burch’s three daughters from his first marriage—Pookie (Alexandra), Louisa, and Izzie—are occasional visitors as well.
Although he travels virtually nonstop, regularly flying from places like Bali (off the coast of which he just bought a secluded resort) to Miami to Tokyo in the span of just a couple weeks, Burch earmarks what, by his standards at least, is ample time toward visiting his Hamptons home each summer—every other weekend and a solid two week block of time in August.
Although he does aim to relax in the Hamptons, Burch, who is opening several more C. Wonder stores this year and has his hand in new fashion lines like Monika Chiang and Electric Love Army, doesn’t go there to really, truly unwind. “I don’t totally unplug in the Hamptons,” he confesses. “I relax and watch a lot of television, but I still stay half busy. I get so excited about answering e-mails and thinking about people, I can’t stop trying to figure out solutions in all these businesses.” 5 Main St., Southampton, 287-2645
photography by evan sung