Vera Wang scraps $500 China try-on fee, knockoffs still flourish
By Melanie Lee
SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Vera Wang, the queen of bridal couture, is abolishing the nearly $500 fee she charged Chinese brides-to-be to try on a garment at her new Shanghai bridal boutique after the move, meant to deter counterfeiters, set off a global outcry.
Local and global media had criticized the surcharge as being discriminatory because it was applied only in China, at the company's Shanghai store, which staged a "soft opening" in January as the company's first bridal salon in the country, a vast potential market as the numbers of wealthy grow.
A Vera Wang spokeswoman told Reuters that the 3,000 yuan ($480) charge was being scrapped as of Wednesday.
"Please kindly be informed that Vera Wang has abolished appointment fees at her bridal salons worldwide starting from March 27, 2013," the spokeswoman said in an email, without elaborating.
A company spokeswoman told local media earlier this year that the charge was imposed to fend off copying of the elaborate dresses, which fetch thousands of dollars in the original.
Despite the move, though, Vera Wang's ivory tulle trains and pinched bodice gowns had already found fans in the world of pirates, with knockoffs widely available on Chinese e-commerce sites for a fraction of the price.
Li, one seller of "Vera Wang style" dresses on Taobao Marketplace, China's largest e-commerce site, says he can achieve up to 90 percent similarity to the namesake garments without even seeing the originals.
A Vera Wang original can range anywhere from $2,000 to over $10,000, but on Taobao some imitations go for as little as $100. Continued...