Reports surfaced late last week that Vera Wang had implemented a 3,000 yuan, or $482, try-on fee at its new Shanghai bridal flagship, despite having no such fees at any of its other bridal stores. A 90-minute time limit was also implemented.
The policy, and its exclusivity to the iconic wedding dress brand's Shanghai store, was met with controversy and even outrage, especially in China. According to WWD, news of the fee generated as many as 2,000 comments on Sina Weibo early this week.
So, unsurprisingly, Vera Wang is on damage control. Initially, Wang's team told Refinery29 that the policy "was surprising to us too," then went on to say charging to try on gowns is a "common practice" that is "left to the discretion of local operators," but that the company would review its policies.
Today, the company announced it has abolished appointment fees from all of its stores in response to the controversy.
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.
As for why the company implemented the fee in the first place? A Shanghai staffer told WWD, “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.”
Additionally, a company representative reportedly told Chinese media that the decision had to do with preventing counterfeiting of Wang's designs, which Reuters reports is still going strong, as several knockoffs can be found on Taobao, China's largest ecommerce site. One such seller, Li, told Reuters that he makes his counterfeits based on photos: "For the experts you don’t need to try on the dress to figure out how to copy it, you just need to see it or feel it at the shop.”