Over the course of her career, Vera Wang has grown a single bridal boutique into a fashion and lifestyle empire that spans a wide range of product categories — ranging from engagement rings and ready-to-wear to dinner plates and cosmetics — at a variety of price points from luxury to mass market.
After graduating college Wang was hired at Vogue as a rover but quickly worked her way up the ladder, becoming one of the magazine’s youngest ever fashion editors. Wang told BoF, “I got to work with Irving Penn and Richard Avedon — it is kind of insane really when I think back on it. It gives you an education that is parallel to none. There is nothing that isn’t available to you if you believe in it and want it and defend it to your boss. You had the best hairstylists, the best makeup artists, the best new photographers, the best established photographers.”
After being turned down for the editor-in-chief position, Wang left Vogue and, in 1987, joined Ralph Lauren. Two years later, while planning her wedding Wang had an epiphany. “I was a late bride and that experience of metamorphosis, going from being a fashion nun to being a bride, was kind of extreme for me,” she says. “There wasn’t anything, either a retail situation or a couture [designer] that really satisfied the needs of modern women, in my opinion. I was using common sense and thinking, ‘Well, everybody doesn’t want to wear the 4-inch cap-sleeve where you can’t lift your arms and a bodice of sequined lace with a big pouf skirt and stuff around your hair dangling down. I just thought there was another vision.” In 1990, Wang opened her own bridal boutique on Madison Avenue. “I think I brought fashion to [the bridal industry]. I was fearless because I really didn’t know any better.”
“People have done far better than me in far shorter periods of time, but that wasn’t my story,” Wang told BoF. “It was brick by brick, client by client, store by store. It’s been a trip of passion, but it has not been a quick trip. Nor has it been easy. And that is the truth.” Regardless of her modesty, the results of Wang’s personal story speak for themselves; according to market sources, the retail value of goods bearing Vera Wang’s name is estimated to be upwards of $1 billion per year.