Designers. Why Vera Wang Doesn’t Crave the Luxe Bucks. Second City Style Fashion Blog

Fountain of 30

April 9, 2007 • Fashion

Verawang_150 58 As of late there have been tons of articles written on the positioning of luxury brands in a world where H & M can have the hottest dress hitting stores for a quarter of the cost of the designer inspiration garment. Due to the work of PR professionals looking to secure a high market audience for their wares, many a representative is working from the stance that all press ISN’t good press. However, Vera Wang, who thrived with her luxury wedding label is taking a different avenue towards success. reports that the Queen of outfitting the newly hitched doesn’t only need cater to Park Avenue. Q+A: Vera Wang’s Not Married To High-End Positioning NEW YORK — Vera Wang has, in many ways, had a storybook life. Raised among an affluent family, she had the opportunity to attend private school in Paris where she would attend fashion shows. The experience made quite an impression on the young Wang, who, after failing to make it as an Olympic figure skater, spent 16 years covering high fashion at Vogue. After working for Ralph Lauren as a design director she launched her own design shop in 1990. Aside from creating the occasional figure skating costume for Michelle Kwan and Nancy Kerrigan, Wang quickly became the preeminent wedding dress designer for the rich and famous. Wang’s dresses have been worn by a parade of A-List celebrities from Avril Lavigne to Uma Thurman. Wang also authored a book for brides-to-be called Vera Wang on Weddings, and her Waterford/Wedgwood china and crystal patterns are a popular choice at bridal registries. But the fashion-forward Wang also has pressed on into fragrance with Coty, lingerie, eyewear, footwear and the list goes on. Formerly just a high-end designer, this year she embarks on her biggest project to date: Very Vera by Vera Wang clothes, linens, handbags and the like available exclusively at the mass merchant Kohl’s this fall. Beginning April 16, Wang will follow in the footsteps of Jay-Z, Mark Burnett, snowboarder Shaun White and others by becoming the latest celebrity to star in Hewlett-Packard’s "The computer is personal again" ad campaign. Launched in May of last year—via Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco—the campaign intimately showcases the stars by explaining all of the different ways they use their HP computers. Wang told Brandweek senior editor Kenneth Hein that she was eager to be a part of the campaign and looks forward to showing the world that she is much more than just a high-end fashion designer. Namely, Wang likes to recast herself as a hardworking mom with incredibly good taste—except for when it comes to food where, much to the dismay of her friends in Paris, she has a thing for hot dogs and Dunkin’ Donuts. Brandweek: Why appear in HP ads? Vera Wang: There are many reasons, but one of the things that really struck me was the personal quality of the ads. As someone who has been a fashion designer for 40 years, I’ve always tried not to dictate to women. I’ve always tried to suggest and propose. One of my biggest mantras coming from my wedding business is that it’s about making it your day. It’s about your life and personalizing that. That’s always been an important message for me. Coming from fashion, people usually think of you as quite imperious and it’s my way or no way and I know best. I built my brand based on the fact that I’m not dictating to people how to run their wedding or cook their supper or do the flowers. I’m really just suggesting and offering help and trying to be there for other women. That’s been my own message in the fashion world. I’ve always felt like I had a really personal relationship with my clients. Dictating trends and styles, I’ve never found that to be the nature, aesthetic or who I am as a fashion designer. The HP ads seem to really celebrate that personal nature and that’s what made me thrilled to be a part of it. It allows people to get to know me as not only a designer, but also as a human being and all of the other sides of my life. People can have an insight into who I am. BW: How would you describe your brand? VW: So much of my brand is about my relationship with women. Certainly when you dress them on their wedding day that’s one of the biggest responsibilities and connections you have to make. The same goes for all of the things my company is doing for people’s homes, from bedding to mattresses to silverware, gifting, stationery and all of those things. I may be working in fashion, but it’s also about who I am as a person, a mom and a working woman, and somebody who’s always fascinated by other people. I hope the HP ad can be seen with a sense of whimsy, amusement and love; love of my family and love of what I do. Love of life. BW: Is there anyone you would like to partner with or admire? VW: I’m not someone who is running around looking for partners. Most people, if you asked them in our industry, would say I’ve actually been very selective in who I partner with. I’ve always tried to run my business based on my connection with the client. I wouldn’t be partnering up with my ex-boss but I admire Ralph Lauren. He’s always had an honesty and integrity in everything he does. He’s somebody who I see as a true creator. A visionary. I admire that a great deal. There are a few other brands. This may blow your mind, but I love Dunkin’ Donuts. I’m a big donut eater. I love all of the varieties and I think that you know if you’re American there’s nothing better than a donut and a cup of coffee, to the horror of my French friends. I just can’t explain to them what a donut, a hot dog and a good cup of coffee do for me. It’s about the American spirit. I hope as an Amer-Asian I embody that. BW: What about Kohl’s? I know that partnership left some people scratching their heads. VW: I have my first mass line coming out with Kohl’s. September will be the launch. I’m very proud and very excited about it. I get the chance and I feel privileged to be able to dress the women of America. [Vera Wang products are] perceived as so high-end nobody can afford them. It’s very elitist that only certain people can afford those clothes and have places to wear them [like on the red carpet]. That’s not me. In reality I’ve always been more of a democrat. I want women to be individuals and who they are as people. I feel like a very lucky girl that Kohl’s is allowing me to reach a wider audience. To me it’s a huge compliment that they would trust in me to take that responsibility seriously. It wasn’t just about taking a check. It was about the opportunity. I hope the world will agree, that there’s a lot of value to what we’re doing and see there’s a lot of style. [The Kohl’s line] will have the same design integrity that I do at the upper end . . . This is just part of who I am and what I wanted to do at this point of my career. –Joanne Molina for Second City Style

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