Vera Wang to charge customers $482 for trying on clothes - the Fashion Spot
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Vera Wang to charge customers $482 for trying on clothes
Does my wallet look big in this?
Global Times | 2013-2-3 17:43:01
By Jiang Yabin

World-famous fashion designer Vera Wang opened her first-ever mainland store last week, a boutique bridal shop at Xintiandi in Huangpu district. Blushing brides who have previously walked down the aisle in a "Vera Wang" include Mariah Carey, Victoria Beckham, Jennifer Lopez and Kate Hudson.
For the New York-born couturier - whose parents are both from Shanghai - this should have been a triumphant homecoming, of sorts.

Instead, it has left many fashion fans incensed after the designer announced that every potential customer at the Shanghai store will be charged 3,000 yuan ($482) simply to try on the gowns for sale. The store further added that each customer will be given a 90-minute slot to try on dresses. If a purchase is made, the deposit will be deducted from the sale price, but otherwise it is non-refundable. Potential customers have also been warned that they should give the store "several weeks" notice if they would like to make an appointment.

No one would really argue that 3,000 yuan is very much money for the kind of bride-to-be who is seriously considering purchasing a designer gown from Vera Wang. To put the amount into perspective, the store will showcase some 80 custom-made gowns at prices ranging from 30,000 yuan to 300,000 yuan.

But the point is that this is the only worldwide outlet of the fashion house that imposes this rule.

A clue as to the possible real reason behind this decision is revealed in a public statement by the company to the effect that, rather than discriminating against customers, the aim is to "protect the copyright of the designer." The release also states that customers will be barred from taking photos or filming at the store.

China is notorious for copyright infringements of all kinds, and not only in the fashion industry. And the store would seem to be doing all in its power to protect its trademarks and designs.

People may complain that if Vera Wang doesn't trust her Chinese customers, then she shouldn't be setting up shop here in the first place, but like any business, she has the right to serve - or refuse - any customer she wishes.

Of course the store will spin it that they want to maintain an air of luxury and exclusiveness in the store by only allowing in truly serious customers.

The truth is that we have been here before. Last year, Dolce & Gabbana suffered a public relations nightmare when they physically prevented shoppers from photographing the window displays at their flagship Hong Kong store. One can only assume this action was because of similar concerns about copyright protection. But the ensuing bad press forced the luxury brand into making a humiliating apology, and one that did nothing for its public image.

Vera Wang would seem to be courting the same kind of opprobrium. Or is she? Many netizens have already denounced the decision as discrimination against Chinese people. If the story refuses to die down, Wang may try to refute such charges of prejudice by pointing out that she herself is ethnically Chinese, a scion of our own fair city, no less. We shall see.

What are your thoughts on this? I think it's off putting to potential customers not to mention it disturbs the shopping experience immensely.

And what's to stop big crime rings from paying the fee or finding other ways to get a good picture of the dresses. I find it juvenile to believe that a fee is going to stop them.

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Who on Earth thought that might be a good idea?! No matter how wealthy you are, no one should ever feel pressured to buy something, let alone a wedding dress.

It's extremely off-putting and could be very bad for her image. I honestly hope a boycott of her brand will ensue, she/her people need to learn their lesson.

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Anyone who can afford her bridal dresses isn't going to care about a fee.
Especially if the fee is deducted from the purchase.

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Stitch:the Hand
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are her bridal collections easily accessed online in china,particularly shanghai? with all the rules and censoring concerning the internet,just curious. if so,wouldn't that copyright excuse be a bit moot?

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rising star
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I don't think the point is that people can't afford it, it is the principle.

I would hate to feel like I had to decide on the day to buy a wedding dress.

A store in Australia is charging $5 for browsing and people are annoyed.

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i dont think its necessarily only to protect copyright...

i think its to protect against bloggers who want to photograph themselves in gowns or folks that just want photos of themselves in gowns.

i'm sure that people will smuggle in cameras anyway...

a lot of fancy bridal boutiques such as klienfelds In NY have had to institute no camera policies due to people like that...

and i'm sure that the new policy will cut down on lines and a "circus atmosphere" at vera wang...

it will also protect against damage to the gowns also.

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Vera Wang Nixes China Fees Amid Controversy

NEW YORK — Vera Wang has abolished appointment fees at her bridal salons worldwide after the practice sparked an Internet controversy in China.

Wang's local partner had instituted a fee of 3,000 yuan, or $482 at current exchange, to try on wedding gowns at her new Shanghai bridal flagship. The fee included afternoon tea and a meeting with a consultant, along with a 90-minute fitting session. According to a Shanghai store staff member, this is usually enough time for a customer to try on eight to 10 gowns.

The decision to implement the fee generated a flood of comments on Sina Weibo, as many as 2,000 earlier this week. The comments came even though some other bridal salons in China charge similar fees.

“Upon careful investigation and review of the policies of our international operators, we will be abolishing appointment fees in all of our stores,” Vera Wang said Tuesday. “We wish for all Vera Wang customers to enjoy the same standard of excellence worldwide. Treating our customers in a fair and equitable way remains a priority. The store in Shanghai has only been open to private VIP preview appointments. The official opening to the public will take place on April 29.”

The Shanghai flagship, which had a soft opening earlier this year, takes up two floors of prime real estate in the upmarket Xintiandi development and has about 80 dresses on display, priced between 30,000 yuan and 300,000 yuan, or $4,827 to $48,270.

Lovisa Tedesteadt, owner of Lova Weddings in Shanghai, said, “I am in shock. I don't know of a single boutique in China that has this fee. I visited the Vera Wang boutique in Xintiandi weeks ago....We were allowed to look at the 25 or 30 dresses displayed on the first floor, but the sales assistant confirmed customers have to pay a 3,000 renminbi [$482.95] fee to try on the dresses upstairs.”

Jenny Ji, a Shanghai-based designer with a high-end bridal line, said that while she generally makes made-to-order wedding gowns, she has sample dresses in her studio customers are welcome to try on for free.

Newly-married resident Jing Yuan, 27, was surprised to hear about the pay-to-try policy for Shanghai customers, calling it “irrational. Of course this is too much, normally to buy a quality wedding dress from a good brand in Shanghai is 3,000 [yuan]. I have never heard of another designer brand doing this,” Yuan said.

A staff member at Vera Wang's Shanghai store justified the fee before it was abolished. “A lot of high school and college students were coming here and weren't serious about buying a wedding dress so that's why we started the fitting fee,” the staffer said. “We just wanted to make sure we were serving the right customers, and the [fee] is then redeemable off the purchase price of any gown.”
WWD 3/27/2013

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front row
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I think it's completely ridiculous, as a principle, to charge customers for any kind of browsing. You don't need to try on the gowns to copy them so it's not protecting the brand that way. If you don't want bloggers etc to take photos just say no bags in changing rooms...

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lucy92's Avatar
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it was vera wang's local partner that decided to institute the policy
(all western businesses in china are run as joint ventures) so i dont think its necessarily fair to criticize her.

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kissmesweet's Avatar
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At first glance, it does in fact look discriminatory, but also in many shops in China which sell wedding shops customers are in fact charged in order to try on dresses. So it's also a cultural thing, to tackle counterfeits. Though, in light of the international market and that Vera Wang is a big name, it does look bad.

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