NEW YORK — Vera Wang is not one to be called rash. After 15 years of making wedding dresses — and doing the painstaking alterations that sometimes go with them — the designer is putting her know-how and seamstress skills into a more affordable dress collection.
The concept initially stemmed from the success of her bridesmaid dress business, and now she is banking on the 40 dresses to appeal to a broader age range — from sophisticated prom-goers to well-maintained 60-year-olds.
The line is to be produced under the Vera Wang label. It consists primarily of eveningwear, though it is priced considerably lower than her collection eveningwear, which retails from $2,000 to $5,000. With retail prices of $395 to $1,100, the new group intends to build business in specialty and department stores.
“The word is ‘attainable,’’ Wang said during a photo shoot last week at her West 39th Street showroom. “I’m not implying it’s cheap, cheap. But at least it’s something they can afford.”
The dress collection should generate $50 million in retail sales within the next three years, said Susan Sokol, president of Vera Wang Apparel.
A white matte jersey cocktail dress, a black halter dress with a sequined waistband and a strapless floral dress with banded tulle are among the styles. As a model breezed by in a floor-length black Chantilly lace dress with horizontal pleats at the bodice, Wang said, “This is our vocabulary — pleating, borders, banding. We’ve been very successful with these things. But by successful, I mean selling 25 pieces. Now we’ll be able to do this and reach more people.”
The company does not release sales figures, but industry sources said its wholesale bridal, bridesmaid, eveningwear and ready-to-wear generates $24 million in annual sales, and its Madison Avenue store rings up an additional $12 million in retail sales each year.
The dress collection comes at a time of change for the company. For the first time in 15 years, Wang and her right-hand man, Chet Hazzard, are not solely the one-two punch on the senior executive level. Sokol joined the company last month, and with her arrival Hazzard assumed the title of vice chairman and maintains his role as chief operating officer. Wang continues as chairman and chief executive officer, signing up Laura Lee Miller, the former Unilever Prestige president, as executive vice president of licensing for VEW Ltd., Wang’s licensing division. Hazzard and Wang said it also freed them to look at other opportunities.
Hermès is launching a Laundromat pop-up shop in NYC - dubbed Hermèsmatic - where customers can bring their old scarves to be dip-dyed by an expert. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews (📷: @donstahl)