"Don’t be afraid to take time to learn. It’s good to work for other people. I worked for others for 20 years. They paid me to learn" – Vera Wang.
Vera Wang fully understands that life is all about a long journey through experience. She often talks about life’s rich learning curve and is clearly a product of the experience gained. Her belief that "success isn’t about the end result, it’s about what you learned along the way," fits nicely with her assertion that previous employers paid her as she learned her life skills. Wang may be very inward looking and self-effacing, but she has been extremely successful, both in her educational achievements and in her career and she attributes this to her undying passion for everything she gets involved in. "If your heart is attached to it, then your mind will be attached to it. When you have a passion for something then you can not only be better at it, but you work harder at it too."
Wang was born in the summer of 1949 in New York City to Chinese immigrants. Her parents had fled to the United States to avoid the Chinese Communist revolution and they had themselves become quite successful in their new world. She attributes a lot of her drive to her father, who owned a medicine company and who has always encouraged her to make the most of her experience. She may not have always had her dream job, but she was always open enough to understand that every day is a part of the journey.
After attending the upscale Chapin School in a tony part of Manhattan, Wang followed with further education at the University of Paris and the Sarah Lawrence College, resulting in a degree in art history. It was during her younger years that she did discovered a passion for figure skating and put her heart and soul into the idea. She would make every sacrifice for the passion but ultimately decided that she would never aspire to the highest echelons, which in her mind meant the Olympic Games and she turned away.
While working for Vogue magazine, Vera learned a great deal about fashion and clothing and started to dream about how a woman could look so good when skating and how this could be applied to her dress styles in life. "All those years of skating and dancing have carried over. I can’t design anything without thinking of how a woman’s body will look and move when she’s wearing it."
She left Vogue after 15 years and went to work for Ralph Lauren for a few years. Feeling the inspiration to design her own creations in 1990, just after getting married, she opened her own salon in New York City featuring bridal gowns. She knew that she would have to create something different to stand out and set out to create a unique brand, staying close to her beliefs and coming up with an inspired collection, which has found appeal to this day. The wedding gowns have been chosen by a veritable "who’s who" of celebrities and one of her crowning moments has been to provide costumes for figure skaters taking part in the Olympic Games.
Despite being involved with what many would consider to be a very high-end product and clientele, Wang is nevertheless firmly grounded in the need for sensibility. She asserts that style is not about price but is about a look that works for the woman who is wearing it. In today’s economy the fashion mix has to be sensible and she recognizes that her audience are all smart shoppers.
Vera Wang has been recognized for her achievements in fashion and has expanded a reach into jewelry, fragrance, housewares and home fashion. Most recently she signed an agreement with retailer Kohls to sell budget spin off brands. She is now 60 years old and still exhibits a passion for her creations and for the art of learning.