Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Vera Wang makes fashion faux pas at first China store

By Alexis Lai and Lucrezia Seu
updated 2:19 AM EDT, Fri March 29, 2013
A general view is pictured at the opening of the Vera Wang bridal boutique in Sydney, Australia, on June 27.
A general view is pictured at the opening of the Vera Wang bridal boutique in Sydney, Australia, on June 27.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • U.S. luxury bridal designer Vera Wang's first store in China charging US$480 to try on clothes
  • Fee was exclusive to Shanghai store, prompting cries of discrimination against Chinese
  • Some speculated fee was intended to discourage copycat designs
  • Vera Wang spokesperson said fee would be scrapped upon official opening of store in April

(CNN) -- U.S. luxury bridal designer Vera Wang's first store in China has gotten off to an unfashionable start. Amid cries of discrimination, the company announced Wednesday it would scrap a controversial policy of charging customers a nearly $500 fee to try on clothes.

The store, which had its soft launch in Shanghai in January, has been charging customers a RMB 3000 (US $480) fee for a 90-minute appointment to try on its famous wedding gowns. The non-refundable fee would be credited toward any purchase made.

Local media and netizens have decried the fee, exclusive to the Shanghai store, as discriminatory to Chinese customers.

Some speculated that the fee was intended to discourage efforts to copy Wang's coveted bridal designs, which can run several thousand dollars per gown.

Chinese designers at London Fashion Week

"In the United States, they say unmarried women want a Vera Wang gown, divorced women miss their Vera Wang gown, women remarrying are glad they can have a Vera Wang gown," wrote user Wumei120 on the popular Sina Weibo microblogging platform. "Each Vera Wang wedding dress is a piece of fine art. To see such wonderful work, girls cannot help but want one."

A search for Vera Wang dresses on Taobao, a popular online marketplace, revealed prices for as low as RMB 273 (US $44) for knock-off versions.

A spokeswoman at the Shanghai store would not confirm if the fee was aimed at discouraging copycat efforts, emphasizing only that it ensured a "luxury shopping experience," complete with a personal shopping assistant and afternoon tea.

She said the store had been instructed via e-mail on Wednesday to adhere to the brand's global standards and scrap the fee upon its grand opening, which the company has previously announced as April 29.

Vera Wang's collections were previously distributed in China only through high-end boutiques and department stores.

Chinese consumers currently account for approximately 27% of worldwide luxury consumption, according to a December report by management consultancy McKinsey & Co. It called China the "paramount driver of growth" in the luxury sector, estimating its consumers would make up 34% of global luxury spending by 2015.

Alexis Lai reported and wrote from Hong Kong, and Lucrezia Seu reported from Beijing.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
See CNN's complete coverage on China.
updated 10:30 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Some savvy individuals in China are claiming naming rights to valuable foreign brands. Here's how companies can combat them.
updated 5:11 AM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Is Xi Jinping a true reformist or merely a "dictator" in disguise? CNN's Beijing bureau chief Jaime FlorCruz dissects the leader's policies
updated 11:44 PM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
With a population of 1.3 billion, you'd think that there would be 11 people in China who are good enough to put up a fight on the football pitch.
updated 2:31 AM EDT, Fri July 4, 2014
26-year-old Ji Cheng is the first rider from China to compete for competitive cycling's highest honor.
updated 7:24 AM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
China's richest man, Wang Jianlin, may not yet be a household name outside of China, but that could be about to change.
updated 12:14 AM EDT, Fri July 4, 2014
Hong Kong's narrow streets were once a dazzling gallery of neon, where banks and even bordellos plied their trade under sizzling tubular signs.
updated 7:57 PM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
When President Xi Jinping arrives in Seoul this week, the Chinese leader will have passed over North Korea in favor of its arch rival.
updated 7:59 AM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
Three more officials have been given the chop as part of China's anti-corruption drive, including former aides to the retired security chief.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Tue July 1, 2014
As thousands of Hong Kongers prepare for an annual protest, voices in China's press warn pro-democracy activism is a bad idea.
updated 12:37 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
Hong Kongers are demanding the right to directly elect their next leader, setting up a face-off with Beijing.
updated 2:56 AM EDT, Tue July 1, 2014
The push for democratic reform in Hong Kong is testing China's "one country, two systems" model.
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
Along a winding Chinese mountain road dotted with inns and restaurants is Jinan Orphanage, a place of refuge and site for troubled parents to dump unwanted children.
updated 4:36 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
CNN's Kristie Lu Stout invites Isaac Mao, Han Dongfang, and James Miles to discuss the rise of civil society in China and social media's crucial role.
updated 11:34 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
Chen Guangbiao wants rich people to give more to charity and he'll do anything to get their attention, including buying lunch for poor New Yorkers.
updated 7:44 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Architects are planning to build the future world's tallest towers in China. They're going to come in pretty colors.
updated 7:47 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
Anna Coren visits Yulin's annual dog meat festival. Dogs are part of the daily diet here, with an estimated 10,000 dogs killed for the festival alone.
updated 2:38 AM EDT, Thu June 19, 2014
People know little about sex, but are having plenty of it. We take a look at the ramifications of a lack of sex education in China.
updated 4:12 AM EDT, Fri June 13, 2014
Hong Kongers have reacted angrily to a Chinese government white paper affirming Beijing's control over the territory.
The emphasis on national glory -- rather than purely personal achievement -- is key.
updated 12:14 PM EDT, Mon June 16, 2014
A replica of the Effel Tower in Tianducheng, a luxury real estate development located in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang province.
What's the Eiffel Tower doing in China? Replica towns of the world's most famous monuments spring up all over China.
updated 8:13 PM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
Rapid development hasn't just boosted the economy -- it has opened up vast swathes of the country, says a man who has spent much of his life exploring it.
updated 2:54 AM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
The World Cup is apparently making a lot of people "ill" in China.
ADVERTISEMENT