UPDATE: After controversy surrounding a fee of over $400 to try on wedding dresses at the new Chinese flagship, Vera Wang released the following statement:
“Upon careful investigation and review of the policies of our international operators, we will be abolishing appointment fees in all of our stores. 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.”
Designer Vera Wang may be American, but her Chinese and Shanghainese roots have made her a fan favorite back in the mainland. Wang has a few dozen stores in China but only one bridal salon that's located in Shanghai, and the opening was seen as a kind of homecoming. However, the Daily Mail revealed that brides were being charged 3,000 yuan (approximately $480) to just try on the gowns for 90 minutes, a practice that doesn't exist in Wang's other stores around the world.
Before claims of racism can be reached, blog Shanghaist reports that this fee is to protect the Vera Wang brand and its designs from easily being stolen by counterfeiters, and commenters have also mentioned that other local bridal brands have charged for try-ons, so it's consistent with other local retail practices. We reached out to Vera Wang's team, who confirms that the fee is because of regional norms in a corporate statement: "Due to the delicacy of wedding gowns and the inherent and specific nature of the bridal business, it has been known to be a common practice among bridal luxury retailers to charge a nominal fee for appointments. It is frequently left to the discretion of local operators to determine policies specific to their regions. We are reviewing our policy and formulating a system where all international stores will be aligned."
Photo: Courtesy of Vera Wang