After a year in which many weddings were postponed or moved to intimate backyard occasions, the 2021 wedding season is shaping up to be as busy as ever. But, throughout the last several years, many brides have eschewed the traditional dress-buying experience and moved online to search and shop for their bridal gowns. As a result, several direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands have cropped up to meet this new consumer group, and some retailers have added bridal selections to their ecommerce platforms. In 2019, Vogue Business reported on the evolution of wedding dress shopping from traditional in-store experiences to direct-to-consumer offerings. “In the U.S., bridal retailers have traditionally served as gatekeepers who dictate styles, withhold price information, provide generic, if not impersonal in-store experiences, and fail to offer inclusive sizing and samples. So it’s no surprise that they [bridal retailers] are being disrupted,” noted the Vogue Business analysis. Many online wedding retailers are offering hybrid shopping options or generous return policies that straddle the brick-and-mortar and ecommerce shopping experiences, marketing to brides who start their searches online and aren’t afraid to think out of the box when it comes to buying dresses.
Lace & Liberty Differentiates With Customized DTC Bridal Gowns
Lace & Liberty, a San Francisco-based bridal atelier, offers customized versions of their designs. And, while brides can go to the brand’s brick-and-mortar showroom, Lace & Liberty offers a fully online experience. Brides schedule online consultations, sharing their visions with in-house designers and are updated step by step throughout the process as their dresses are designed. According to the brand, the average price of a custom dress is $2000. “What we're offering is a semi-couture experience at this price point,” explains Lace & Liberty founder Danielle Wen. “Each [gown] is made personally for the bride after she orders. People want a personalized experience — a high-end, in-real-life interaction with the brand. And they want to shop no matter what size they are, people aren't shy about that any more. But a lot of bridal shops are set up the way they were 50 years ago.” Differentiation and inclusivity can help startups capture engagement and excitement, particularly when disrupting traditional industries.
Anthropologie Introduces Plus-Size Bridal Line Online And Offline
Inclusive sizing has been a “boon to ecommerce players, as brides who wear a size 12+ are 10% more likely to buy their wedding dresses online,” according to Vogue Business. In 2020, Anthropologie, a boho-inspired clothing brand owned by Urban Outfitters, introduced plus sizing to its wedding collection BHLDN. “The great thing about love is that everyone fits. With the launch of our inclusive size collection, we are excited to celebrate every bride, at every size,” said Lori Conley, BHLDN General Merchandise Manager. The plus-size range of dresses includes more than 30 gowns in sizes 0-26W. Younger consumers expect that brands will make inclusive sizing part of their offerings. In the past, plus sizing was often relegated to the backs of stores, driving consumers to shop online. Many online brands strive to create more connection with consumers of every size, which Millennials and Gen Z are looking for when making purchases. The BHLDN “Plus Wedding Dresses” line is available online and in stores, and brides can choose virtual consultations with stylists.
Reformation Is A Wedding Dress Retailer For Non-Traditional Brides
Many younger brides aren’t interested in traditional weddings and are instead looking for dresses that match a more unexpected or unique wedding style and setting. Reformation, a funky store with brick-and-mortar locations around the country and an online presence, added a wedding section to their ecommerce site in 2017. The irreverent brand offers sustainable, affordable selections for modern brides in a decidedly nonchalant way, stating, “Matrimony happens. We’re here to help with stuff for all your rescheduled weddings, elopements, impromptu Vegas ceremonies, or however else you’re getting married these days.” The cheeky messaging from Reformation, which the brand carries across their advertising, including social media platforms, is likely to resonate with brides who aren’t interested in the typical wedding experience and feel comfortable popping online to buy a dress.
Birdy Gray Moves Bridesmaid Dresses Online Too
The founders of Birdy Grey, a wedding brand that specializes in bridesmaid dresses but also sells wedding gifts and accessories, have been bridesmaids a combined 26 times. They know how costly it can be. Hence, the creation of Birdy Grey, which offers bridesmaids dresses for $99 or less in a range of colors and sizes. The bridal party can get up to three fabric swatches to choose the perfect color and have 45 days to return dresses that don’t work out. The Birdy Grey website, in addition to emphasizing the cost and convenience of its dresses, has a portal called Bridal Studio, where shoppers can sign up to shop with their fellow bridesmaids, “favorite” items and track their orders, offering bridal parties personalized shopping experiences.
According to Katie Richards of Glossy, Birdy Gray launched with Instagram advertising, expanded into paid search and then into Facebook and Pinterest. Birdy Gray cofounder Grace Lee said, “Every time we turned up the marketing spend by a couple dollars, we would see more meaningful revenue come back.”
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