NEW YORK — Vera Wang's bridal lifestyle world is growing rapidly, and now the designer is creating an entirely new platform to showcase it.
Next month, Wang will unveil to consumers the first collection of fine linens from her namesake company. But rather than launch it at specialty stores nationwide, she has chosen to offer it exclusively at verawangonweddings.com, an Internet portal her company is launching that could bring a new dimension to her bridal business.
The site will bring all of Wang's bridal categories under one umbrella in an environment that will guide visitors through the wedding process and feature bridal runway footage, product galleries, e-commerce and video segments with Wang herself offering her wedding philosophy and advice. The site, which builds on Wang's book "Vera Wang on Weddings," was developed by NaviSite and also allows visitors to partake in interactive features, such as a quiz to determine the characteristics of a couple, and to build online registries around Wang's products.
"This was our way of really capitalizing on everything that we worked on for that book for nearly four years," Wang said. "It has a magazine quality to it, which I was adamant about. It's not simply 'here are the five best patterns you should register for,' but should appeal to the philosophy of my book...that there are all different kinds of women and couples.
"I will give them advice, and would like to suggest that they should relate whatever they purchase to their lifestyle," Wang added.
The site is to go live next month and showcase Wang's bridal gowns. While they won't be for sale, the site will direct visitors to stores in their regions that carry them. Arthur Becker, Wang's husband and chairman of NaviSite, encouraged her to make this move. "This is his world and his business, and he has been on my case to do interactive for about 10 years," Wang said. "I was the one always a little hesitant. I just didn't know enough about e-commerce."
Laura Lee Miller, president of Vera Wang Licensing, said, "It integrates everything we do into a story that ultimately makes it easy for brides and grooms to understand who Vera Wang is, what her aesthetic position is, and then it gives them the ability to choose product."The fine linen category is another element in Wang's growing licensing business, which takes in about $350 million at retail, Miller said. The revenue is split evenly between home and fragrance, which is in a partnership with Coty Inc.
Wang said many of the details in her bridal gowns, from the layering to the stitching, lend themselves well to a luxury fine linens category. The collection features such classifications as sheets, pillowcases, pillow shams and duvet covers, in fine 400-thread count Egyptian cotton. It also has cashmere and cotton blankets.
The four groups — called Elegant Edges, Divine Dots, Sophisticated Scallops and White Borders — come replete with Wang's signature artistic or whimsical touches. Retail prices for the Vera Wang Fine Linens collection range from $225 to $295 for sheets; $525 to $650 for duvet covers; $475 to $2,400 for bed blankets; $375 to $1,050 for throw blankets, and $75 to $265 for decorative throw pillows.
This isn't Wang's first foray into bedding. She also designs linens for her Simply Vera collection, which is exclusive to Kohl's.
Wang is no stranger to newlywed homes either. She launched tabletop categories with Wedgwood in 2002, followed by mattresses with Serta in 2006. The newest category is not the result of a formal licensing agreement, but manufactured as a private label deal with Italian luxury linen maker Sferra. That way, the company can control design and distribution.
Miller said that first year retail projections for the fine linens line are $2 million. Miller added that in early 2009, the company is looking to expand the distribution of fine linens to about 500 specialty fine linens stores across the country. And there are more categories in the pipeline.
"This sets the stage for our move into the more traditional home fashion categories, like decorative fabrics, furniture, rugs, lighting, paint and wallpaper," Miller said. "They are all categories that we are working on, and our plan is to enter into home fashion in a cross category in 2009-2010."
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