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Vera Wang Gets Dissected in the Sunday Times

Photograph by Kelly Shimoda for The New York Times
Just as her mass-priced line Simply Vera by Vera Wang is about to go on sale at Kohl's, The New York Times Sunday Business section took an extended look at the state of Vera Wang. The lingering questions, soon to have answers, are:

  • Is Simply Vera going to be too simply much fashion for millions of Kohl's customers across America?
  • Will the massification of Vera Wang hurt the exclusive cachet that the designer has worked so hard to build and preserve?

Wang, who is known for her...uh...directness, freely admits that she made the deal with the fast growing retailer to bolster the expense of her rapidly expanding signature collections and continue to, as she says, "do what she loves." We also learn way more than we needed to know about her Daddy issues. It was she who insisted that the line be a more faithful reflection of the look in her luxury collections, and Kohl's executives insist that surveys showed that their customers love Wang. But do they love her just for fantasy wedding dresses and seeing her gowns on celebrities at Red Carpet events, or do they actually have any place to go in gold bubble skirts in their own everyday lives? Fashion writers were surprised and delighted at the high style when the line was previewed to the press, but how does the typical Kohl's customer feel?

LINDA PAYNE, a 48-year-old nurse with a Vogue-like sense of style, is ecstatic that Vera Wang is coming to the Kohl’s store in a Paramus, N.J., mall. “I love Vera Wang,” she said in a parking-lot interview outside the store. “Her gowns are outrageous. My girlfriend just found one of her dresses on discount for her daughter’s prom.”
But another customer, who would not give her name as she headed into Kohl’s with a teenage daughter in tow, perused a catalog of Ms. Wang’s clothing and deemed all of it to be a bad fit for her.
“It’s too over the top,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine wearing that in my construction office. This is not ‘mom’ clothing. I would not wear that to work, or to a P.T.A. meeting, so where would I wear that?”

Here at The Shophound, we are great supporters of jazzing up P.T.A. meeting style (we see harem pants and lamé), but then, we have never been to one.
As for the potential prestige damage, the days when Halston's high end business collapsed as a result of his deal with JCPenney are long behind us. In fact, Bergdorf Goodman, the very store that spurred Halston's demise gave a huge party for Proenza Schouler just as their line was appearing at Target. The nearest Kohl's we can find is in Jersey City. Will Vera be able to lure us out of our comfy borough?

Can You Be Too Fashionable? by Eric Wilson and Michael Barbaro (NYTimes)




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