Maybe Arena.Net exaggerated with vanity items in GW2 but at the current stage you only have few armor skins (most of them look like ■■■■ and are rarely seen). Most of the "good" looking skins can only be aquired if you play a few hundred or thousand of hours or you need to buy them in the gem-store. there are no "mid-range" item skins because they have been replaced from the gem-store skins (IMO).
forthermore there is also a bunch of "casual" items which help lazy people with their gameplay like infinite mining, collecting or recycling tools and a lot of boosts for nearly anything. Some players pay money for this advantages while others try to structure their inventories or their gameplay.
the complete gem-store of GW2 leads directly to "casual" players who are willing to spend a few $ from time to time. there is no real reason the play the game passionate or be online for more than 30m a day. that's why i don't like vanity items.
to conclude i'd rather pay a monthly fee (that's something i said before) than see payed vanity items in game.