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Survivial of the fittest The High

















– introducing –


For more information contact Michele O’Neill email: or call: 0845 838 1041


Dreams do come true... The Romantica bridal collection is influenced by timeless silhouettes, high quality fabrics and on-trend embellishments. Giving a modern twist to classic bridal styles and offering brides everything they dreamed of and more. New styles are designed and developed in the heart of the Devon countryside by our British design team led by head designer Hannah Gardener. A bridal gown is so much more than just a dress, it is a statement of style, personality and above all romance. Each and every bride deserves to feel exquisitely beautiful on their wedding day and that is always our final goal, to provide a wedding dress that reflects a bride’s style and personality perfectly. Our award winning designs are available from a UK size 6 to a UK size 32. View our collections here:

For Trade Inquires please contact: | ph. +44 7508 724 671 |


W H AT ’ S

WHE R E 13 TA L KING P OINT The latest headlines and need-to-know news stories within the bridal world 22

NEW YOR K, NEW YO R K The glitz and glamour and the gowns that will make you gasp!

26 W HAT’S IN A NAME? The power of celebrity collaborations and what this could mean for bridal

DEMETRIOS, P50 This big and beautiful portfolio is now being looked after by our Billy


B R IE FLY... Billy Fitzsimons takes on Demetrios


O U R GU IDE TO P R O M F R O C K S Stand-out sensational and guaranteed to wow... we showcase the A-list dresses that pack a punch for prom


M ADE E AS IE R How to give maids’ dresses a platform and your business a plug

30 A MO MENT WITH M O R IL E E 62 S ECO ND O PINI O N How this powerhouse in the world of bridal The future isn’t bleak for bridal... it’s different. supports its stockists Capitalise on differences from high-street chains


UK BRIDAL W E E K Givng the market what it wants and needs


YPO S A thought-provoking discussion: should bridal websites disclose dress prices?


S IX O F TH E BEST Bejewelled beauties: we love these hot-totrot heels with added adornments


T HE NEW CONSUM E R Meet the next generation of brides


THE MOUTHS OF (BRIDAL) BABES Brides share their dress-shopping experiences


IN DE M AND Hot right now: the bridal gowns selling fast


WHITE CHRISTMAS Deck the bridal boutique... Christmas spirit comes this year in soft funrnishings for your store!


M O NE Y TAL KS Unmissable financial advice including how best to manage your spending when abroad


AND FINAL LY Word on the street: your platform for sharing what’s been on your mind this month


34 CATCH UP WITH CHE NCA Meet dazzling Chenca Williams, now the proud owner of Ritva Westenius


Affordable luxury for every bride

For further information please contact our authorized distributor: Krystal Bridal Agency, Michelle Blackburn | EMAIL | PHONE +44 (0) 7935 156 275



Ed’s Letter

Editor Susi Rogol

There’s some heavyweight material in this issue to help get industry thinking into gear for the year ahead. The past 12 months have been unquestionably tough for many – retailers and suppliers alike – with challenges and change bringing waves of uncertainty to what was once the calm waters of bridal. We have recruited some of the most influential names in the business to share their thoughts, discuss their concerns, and offer solutions that they believe will pave the way to a new world of bridalwear retailing – one that is different and designed to meet every need and expectation of today’s savvy consumer. Their words are of particular value because they come not from observers of our industry but from those at the very heart of it who understand the EDITOR importance of creating a strong, new tomorrow. SUSI ROGOL-GOODKIND TEAM TALK Carrie Marsden Deputy Editor “I’m a sucker for sparkle and loved, loved, loved the shimmering shoes in the Six of the Best feature.” (p42) Andy Allen Art Director “The advice about picking which social media platforms to use – and which to avoid – has changed my thinking.” (p67) Nardene Smith Advertising Sales Consultant “Advice from Laura Daly, Ellie Sanderson, Christine Marchant, and Trader’s research, really makes me think hard.”




CONTRIBUTORS Rebecca Baddeley, Michael Cahill, Graham Connell, The boys from Creatiques, Laura Daly, Alan Dessy, Eleni Elias, Kimberley Fairfowl, Billy Fitzsimons, Nicola Garton, Emma Hartley, Maria Kelly, Jemma Palmer, Christine Marchant, Jade Pepperall, Carol Roberts, Ellie Sanderson, Christine Skilton-Sinclair, Ian Stuart, Chenca Williams

Art Director Andy Allen

Advertising Sales Consultant Nardene Smith Mobile: 07957 372276

Sales Executive Martha Cooke Mobile: 07877 449122



@WeddingTraderUK @WeddingTraderMag @weddingtrader




WT11_Cover 1aa SR.indd 1

Martha Cook Sales Executive “Interesting to read about the current best sellers (p74) and especially the sizes most in demand.”

Deputy Editor Carrie Marsden



New York


06/11/2018 09:56

Cover image: Semida Sposa

Wedding Trader magazine is distributed to hundreds of the best bridal retailers all over the UK. Designed and created by the makers of Love Our Wedding magazine and, Wedding Trader is a new trade string to the otherwise consumer bow of Meant To Be Media Ltd.

MEANT TO BE MEDIA Wedding Trader is published by: Meant To Be Media Ltd, 68a Oldham Road, Manchester M4 5EE. Tel: 0161 236 6712 Meant To Be Media Ltd also publish: F IND YOUR



DECEMBER 2018 ♦ WEDDING TRADER ♦ 9 0208-368-1500

TAL KING POINT The latest news in the wedding world, right here, right now

David’s Bridal in for bad times continue to question the stability of bridal retail in general, and play into the narrative that retail is dead. From my perspective, however, this is actually good news – it not David’s Bridal missed an interest only confirms the weakness of big payment due on $270 million in box chain stores, it also confirms unsecured notes, according to the strength of independent retail, an article posted by RetailDive. According to the article, S&P analysts even those that do not compete with David’s price points. believe that David’s Bridal is highly This is confirmed by a recent unlikely to make the debt payment report by the International Council of and will be forced to restructure its total debt in the near future. While this Shopping Centers, in which it states that 2017 saw [in the USA] more store doesn’t mean that David’s is facing openings than closures, that 78% of immediate closure, it does suggest consumers prefer to shop in store, that it will have to act aggressively in the short term to meet a restructuring and that 94% of all retail sales are still generated in physical stores. plan, which could include closing of Essentiall,y today’s consumers are stores and slashing expenses. looking for what a national chain has Regardless of what action it takes, difficulty delivering: a personalised, the resulting negative press will Peter Grimes, publisher of US trade bible VOWS shared this story, which indicates there are big problems ahead for America’s retail giant

enjoyable shopping experience with curated product lines supported by knowledgeable stylists in physical environments that are deeply invested in their local community. What they are looking for is exactly what you provide, and is clearly your competitive advantage, especially when you actively tell your story within your store, through your staff, to your brides and to your community. And here are Peter’s suggestions to his readers to help drive this advantage home: • Review your website/social platforms; • Is your testimonial/reviews page current and highly visible? • Do your ‘About Us’ pages accurately describe your community involvement, longevity, and philosophy? • Are community and industry awards front and centre? • Have all reviews been responded to? • Seize the opportunity to communicate your story, your difference.

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ult Australian brand Grace Loves Lace, which has retail stores in Los Angeles, London and the Gold Coast, promises to offer brides in the Big Apple a very different experience. At the back of the vast, 6,000sq-ft space in the trendy Soho area, an appointment-only showroom styled with wild eucalyptus floral arrangements offers an intimate one-to-one experience for the bride and

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her entourage, complete with a cool glass of Australian sparkling wine or a warm cup of Australian white rose tea, both adorned with rose petals. It is the retail area though, at the front of the store, that is introducing a concept other shop-owners can learn from: here brides will be able to shop the range of wedding gowns, accessories and occasionwear straight off the rail, there and then and without an appointment. “As the original distributors in bridal, we have an obligation to continue to push the envelope and reflect the changing face of the modern bride, particularly the way she shops for her dress,” says founder and creative director, Megan Ziems. “Our mission is to create an engaging retail space where a bride-to-be can come and relax, bring her girlfriends, hang out and enjoy our warm Aussie hospitality. This space will allow her to have a shopping day with her girlfriends, try on her favourite GLL gowns and take the dress home that day.”


Making a difference Award-winning Creatiques Bridal Boutique in Southsea is staging a great event in April, proceeds of which will go to the Wedding Wishing Well Foundation, a charity set up to arrange and fund weddings for the terminally ill. Aisle Do It Again is a bridal ball, where attendees will wear their wedding dress again and celebrate in style.

Recent research has revealed that 60% of UK consumers now deem music more memorable than visuals in marketing. Daniel Lafferty, Director of Voice and Music at audio branding specialist PHMG, shares how other bridal retailers can make music the sound of love... “Brides need to feel emotionally engaged with your brand to ensure they feel good about themselves in the most important dress they will ever buy. Just like a bride and groom have their special song, so should a brand. Soundtracks are just like wedding dresses: one style doesn’t fit all. Is your offering quirky or vintage? Romantic and traditional? Do you specialise in mature or plus-size brides? Each would result in a very different brand soundtrack.” Choosing a popular off-theshelf love song may seem like an obvious solution, but

what works well with one prospective customer may not work with another. PHMG research has found wedding businesses tend to use tracks with traditional instrumentation, with strings often prominent and soft percussive elements, such as pianos and harps, combining in the backing – perhaps reflecting the typical instruments used in ‘walking down the aisle’ songs. Daniel says that as well as a bespoke soundtrack, bridal retailers should look to find the perfect voice – choosing attributes such as gender, pitch, pacing, age and accent to match their brand’s personality. “If a retailer specialises in quirky, fun dresses, a younger voice would work better than an older one, which might be more appropriate for a boutique with a classic offering.” It is worth checking out

Don’t do unto others... We all know how frustrating it is when a bride cancels an appointment at the last minute or, worse still, simply doesn’t show up, even if she has accepted a non-refundable charge. But do we ever give thought to those reps who arrange to visit us in store, often travelling considerable distances and with a heavyweight of samples, only to find the decisionmaker is out, seemingly having forgotten a date in the diary, or getting a call to cancel the meeting when he or she is actually round the corner? Please consider the time and effort wasted – that rep could be elsewhere, taking an order. It is much like when that bride fails to appear... and you know how that makes you feel. D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 8 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ 15

DITCH THE TINSEL Okay – it’s that time of year. But why settle for a Christmas tree and fairy lights in the window when you can do something sumptuous and different? Bloomsart suggests you combine dried plants with fake flowers, for added texture and drama, and use floral centrepieces in a window display or on a table to instantly add a festive touch. Artificial plants last forever, so they are more environmentally friendly then fresh flowers that are flown in from far-away countries or heat-controlled environments. If you want to make a Christmas garland, you can blend in sweet-smelling plants such as rosemary or bay with the faux plants to create something truly original; if you want a bit of extra twinkle, then fairy lights can be wound around the plants for a funky, festive look.

DESSY D OES I T AGA I N Every season, every year, Dessy creates a real stir during New York Bridal Week with its latest line up of bridesmaids and occasionwear collections. Across the Lela Rose, Jenny Packham, Alfred Sung, Social Bridesmaids, JY JennyYoo and Dessy ranges, the choice is amazing – not only of styles but of colours and fabrics and finishes; every maid in the party can pick a different dress, according to her own taste and fashion personality, knowing the coordination possibilities are endless. From simple and understated to stand out and sparkly, every piece is a winner. The new party jumpsuits in the range promise to be one of the new season’s biggest hits. +44 (0)1909 774471

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Ladybird clocks up big sales increases


rands can boast increases in sales into shops but, from a retailer’s prospective, it’s a boost in brides’ orders that counts. Ladybird recently announced its tenth consecutive monthly increase in orders placed with its stockists, and in celebration, offered all its customers a ten per cent discount on new orders confirmed within the following

ten days. Says Richard Lill, Ladybird’s UK Business Development Manager: “No one would doubt that retail is tough at the moment; profit is key for all shops. We wanted to say a massive thank you to all our fab loyal retailers, and what better way than to add to their profitability.” Other suppliers take note... and keep your stockists happy.

HARROGATE FASHION WEEK Put together exhibition experts Wendy Adams, Stephen Dixon and former Moda Womenswear Event Director Sarah Moody, and you know they’ll come up with a winner. The second edition of Harrogate Fashion Week will take place 27 and 28 January at the Harrogate Convention Centre and promises to deliver great names and the latest trends – exactly what fashion retailers demand and bridalwear specialists looking for great occasionwear want. Ella Boo, Cassandra, John Charles, James Lakeland, Lizabella, and Gabriella Sanchez, are among the fine labels showing. Special hotel rates are available through Reservation Highway, 01423 557799/ There are also 20% discounts being offered on LNER – go to and use promocode: HCC25. For further details call 01423 623701

Nights Out With Pronovias The 2019 Pronovias Eveningwear collection has some brilliant pieces and a dazzling colour story which, for starters, sees red as the new black. There are misty blue-greens, chalky pinks, navy and greys, too, and great styling – elegance is the message here. Mikado, chiffon and crepe are the fabrics to watch out for. D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 8 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ 17

In my opinion Feeling a bit down or a bit doubtful? Consider joining an industry association, says Wedding Trader’s Laura Daly who knows from experience the difference sharing views – and problems – can make


ith another 12 months of bridal retailing nearly done, the appointments and fittings have slowed down, so there’s time to breathe a little more easily, take stock of the year that’s finishing, and decide on a strategy for the season ahead. It sounds simple enough and, in theory, it should be, but even if the year went reasonably well, you’ll still wince as you vividly remember the occasional problem-bride, or problem-dress, or problem-alteration. Or maybe even a problem member of staff with problems of their own... Then, of course, there’s the prospect of a quiet December on the one hand, and a never-ending stream of huge bills on the other. Bang goes that picture-perfect image you had in your head when you first started out. You know, the one of you sitting at a neatly organised desk, flicking your shiny, bouncy hair, writing Christmas cards, happily paying all the bills, and having money over for a holiday in Barbados. Instead, you’re more likely to be wondering if you could get away with going to bed now and not getting up until mid January. If that’s you above in the pyjamas, maybe it’s time to consider joining one or more of our industry’s trade associations. Being part of something bigger and having access to chat forums and legal advice can really

make a difference. We all know that owning a bridal shop can sometimes be a lonely affair. When things go wrong or it all gets too much, who can you turn to? Whether you work on your own, or employ staff, it can be difficult to have an indepth conversation to find the right solutions for your business, either with employees or with friends and family who aren’t in the industry. Sometimes, it’s all too easy to get into a negative mindset, but with the proper support, a way forward can often be found. As the old adage goes, a problem shared is a problem halved and being part of a group of like-minded retailers makes perfect sense. Someone in that group will almost certainly have gone through whatever is troubling you and may be able to put your mind at rest; it can work the other way around too: your input and advice could be a lifesaver for someone else and, before you know it, another friendly acquaintance has been made. I know that I have formed some wonderful friendships this way. Two very good groups to consider joining are the Retail Bridalwear Association (RBA) and the morerecently formed BrideCo. Between them, there’s something for virtually everyone, whatever shop size or period of trading. The RBA is run by an elected committee made up from member

shops, and members need to have been trading for at least five years, whilst BrideCo is run by a husbandand-wife team, who will accept wellrun shops almost from their first year. Both groups have the common aim to raise standards within our industry whilst celebrating our own individual uniqueness. The RBA is backed by the Retail Ombudsman and members can access free legal advice along with the most up-to-date terms and conditions possible. This can go a long way in helping you to stand your ground when dealing with challenging situations. For BrideCo members, there’s plenty of help in the areas of marketing and social media, which can be invaluable for your brand. Each association runs its own Facebook chat page where friendly banter, celebrations of success, and general morale boosting run along side the more serious stuff. These two groups have different criteria for entry, and differ in their membership benefits but, by joining the one that best suits your business, you’ll definitely be making a positive step forwards. You could even join both! I can’t promise tidy desks, bouncy hair or holidays in Barbados, but I can promise that being part of something bigger feels good. Life is better when you’re smiling, so do it today.


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Inspired by Carole Lomard, it’s pure Hollywood

Manhattan was once again the apple of bridal’s eye when it rolled out the plush carpet to welcome many of the biggest names in the business newest-on-the circuit collective, One Fine Day over on West 31st Street, and the dozens of prime labels who play to a selected audience in their own showrooms, or in an amazing and very different venue – Reem Acra picked the New York Public Library – it is a wonderfully heady experience, and confirmation that talented designers never, ever disappoint. New York sees the most diverse of all collections, gathered from every sector, come together and buzz. And it’s not all top-of-the-market exclusive – and to many, inaccessible – names; there are brands that deliver big business to the core audience, to the Ms Average, alongside those whose price tags are less important than their status among the serious bridal fashionistas demanding attention.

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So what style messages did the recent shows send out? Well, it was a breathtaking mix of daring and decadence with cool and controlled, but you have to bear in mind that international catwalks are where bravado makes the impression. Many gowns, from top names, may be sold as shown for window displays, but will almost certainly be modified – and considerably so – to be a selling proposition in store. It’s a matter of less on stage, more so down the aisle! We’re not showing you those bound-to-be-best-sellers here, but have chosen instead to bring you the wild and wonderful statement-makers that will excite, inspire, and give you a glimpse of the design directions that will – in some shape and form – influence bridal choices tomorrow. AVENIR 35 LIGHT


very season, buyers and media from across the world prepare themselves to brave it from one end of Manhattan to the other; stand in line for up to an hour, and then take their seats for a 15-minute runway show. And that could be many times throughout each day of New York Bridal Fashion Week. But that, incredibly, is what makes the whole thing so enthralling, tired feet or not. From the big-time shows, like The Knot’s Couture event, which includes big-spinning portfolios including Allure, Jasmine, Mon Cheri, Eddy K, Demetrios, Justin Alexandra, Nicole Sposa and Watters, to The London Hotel NYC where the britpack – Sassi, Suzanne, Caroline et all – strut their stuff behind closed doors, to the


Short shorts, beadwork, top skirts with flow


Contempoary, cool, and really good fun. Barefoot is best


Laser-cut leaves and flower, billowing sleeves


Plunging necks, lace and beads, classics go big time


Underplayed, simple lines, topped with a scoop-back sweater

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tank top bodices, layered see-through skirts, flowers forming a print

WILLOWBY Separates, boho, amazing fabric treatments

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MOIRA HUGHES cool colours, sharp silhouettes, jump to it!


Slender lines, slivers of fabric forming a cascade of ‘feathers’


Feathers, tassels, plunging necklines and skin on show

MONIQUE LHUILLIER BRIDESMAIDS The prettiest of prints, easy-going and something for everyone


Laser-cut pastel flowers as a coverup, and dressing the veil


It’s all about the fabric and turning sleeves into a feature


Colour, lushness, flowers, surprising twists and turns


Perfectly sculpted lines, swirls of fine fabric that seemingly float

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Not just a pretty face: we investigate the power of name-association and endorsement from a famous face, plus where this trend could lead for bridal...

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The Face of Fashion The opportunity for ‘borrowing’ a little bit of a celebrity’s stardust to promote



eyonce for Pepsi, Natalie Portman for Dior, Jennifer Aniston for Aveeno… George Foreman for George Foreman Grill (I tell you, we were lean, mean, grilling machines in my household!). As an advertising and marketing strategy, teaming up with someone who’s hot right now is one of the smartest moves a business can make. Brands the world over have long since cottoned on to the power of collaboration with a famous face, lending their business credibility, a touch of glamour, and raising a label or product’s profile with a welltimed endorsement from the world of celebrity. We explore the most successful partnerships to date and speculate what this fully established trend could mean for brilliant bridal…

promoting feminism as the focal point Social Networking In a world now captivated by sheer of her inaugural fashion show for the brand with the iconic ‘We should all be technical wizardry, the science of named brand-association is truly Feminists’ T-shirt. staggering. Take Selena Gomez, And my goodness me, it’s big the world’s bucks all round. most followed L’Oreal have My goodness me, it’s big Instagram reportedly paid celebrity. Each Cheryl Tweedy bucks all round... Julia post Selena £500,000 to represent the Roberts’ five-year contract makes is viewed by all or most of beauty giant with Lancôme is estimated to her 145 million in Britain; Kate followers, a Moss’ St Tropez be worth $50 million! fact not lost campaign (a on handbag mere drop in the designers, Coach, who asked her to ocean for Kate) still earned her a $4 design an entire bag collection, thus million pay check, and since signing with Lancôme, Julia Roberts’ five-year catapulting their label into the digital stratosphere and seeing a phenomenal contract is estimated to be worth a return in the very real world of sales. whopping $50 million! Similarly – and whether you Celebrities and campaigns: a have Bieber Fever or not – Calvin match made in heaven then? The die Klein’s astute recruitment of the pop was cast as soon as people began to phenomenon in his undies in 2015 put a face together with a fashion.






a particular brand has not been lost on savvy advertising executives. Celebrity collaborations have become big business indeed as showbiz stars are put to good effect as ambassadors and spokesmen or women for the label or product they’re representing, as well as extending their ‘reach’ with some clever social-media placements. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s collaboration with M&S in their jointventure, ‘Rosie for Autograph’, helped put the ‘haute’ into the department store’s bid for a more couture-esque line of lingerie. Gigi Hadid for Tommy Hilfiger launched a more streetwise, colourful, and playful way to wear the designer label, thus reinventing the brand as both accessible and desirable in the imagination of an entirely new generation. When taking over the artistic direction at Dior last year, Maria Grazia Chiuri (Dior’s first ever female in this role) made good use of her partnership with Rhianna in

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to-be the high-end luxury of Versace with their own stunning dresses. Operations Manager for the Eternity Group, Liz, says: “The house of Versace is an iconic landmark, which is both aspirational and steeped in fashion history. The location offers exactly what any bride would want to feel on her wedding day.” Teaming up with Miss England competitions made good sense for Mon Cheri; the label have dressed Future faces in bridal… three Miss England winners and What could all this mean for bridal? numerous contestants over the years, Considering the pull celebrities or a and such publicity and exposure ‘big name’ bring to a label, coupled gives Mon Cheri’s stunning dresses with the endless a winning platform. We predict there possibilities for the could be more of these marriages ‘reach’ in this our digital of true minds. Likewise, high-end age, collaborations fashion labels can see the mutually between labels and beneficial advantage in lending their a famous name or name to successful bridal brands, designer simply makes too. Across the pond in 2016, BHLDN, good business sense. the bridal retailer and sister brand to Last month we featured Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters, the exciting news that announced its exclusive collection of Justin Alexander and wedding gowns by none other than Savannah Miller have formally said ‘I do’ to their A-list powerhouse, Marchesa. And talking of A-list powerhouses, creative partnership. Sarah Jessica Parker could well have Eternity Bride recently started a trend like no other: at last capitalised on the opportunity to shoot their year’s Golden Globes, she was redcarpet ready in a luminous, full-bodied dresses at the home of Gianni Versace in Miami, white wedding dress from Vera Wang! thus cleverly associating If this takes off as an official celebrity thing, bridal gowns are going global…! in the minds of brides-


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by Samsung, at the Oscars in 2014. Ellen Degeneres’ now iconic selfie of herself and dozens of other famous actors went down in social media history. The photo was retweeted three million times and is estimated to have been worth between $800 million and $1 billion to Samsung, as 43 million viewers watched Ellen star-snap away on her Samsung device.



launched the campaign #mycalvins, which generated 1.6 million Twitter mentions. To put that into perspective, the campaign received five times as many mentions as Kim Kardashian’s Paper Magazine’s naked cover shoot, which was associated with the #breaktheinternet hashtag. Justin’s (ahem) exposure, raised more than just temperatures: Calvin Klein outperformed revenue expectations with a 13% rise in sales that year. The most memorable example of the power of a name (or names) came in an opportune moment, seized upon CELESTINA

Delightful Décolletage Morilee specialises in stunning necklines and lovely lace

A Moment with Morilee Hot on the heels of a successful Harrogate, Morilee certainly is having a bit of a moment. With five unique collections under its immaculately bejewelled belt, we get the inside track on this bridal-industry powerhouse…


ed by designer Madeline Gardner, Morilee bridal gowns have been blending traditional wedding styles (think A-lines and fairytale ball gowns) with contemporary fashion sensibilities (seductive mermaid cuts and Hollywoodglamour fit-and-flares) for over sixty years. A true labour of love fused with an utter commitment to every last detail has certainly paid off; the label is synonymous with affordable elegance and the collections are

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now available in over 70 countries worldwide. Brand brilliant Releasing two collections each year – Spring (launched in March) and Autumn/Fall (launched in September) – ensures Morilee is continually on trend and catering for today’s brides. And following September 2018’s launch, Morilee was all set to dazzle this year at Harrogate… and it didn’t disappoint. General Manager, Graham Connell, reported: “Harrogate was

Fit and flare Gorgeous silhouettes that celebrate curves.

lighter fabrics and less decorative designs for the more price-conscious brides, and these retail around £800-£1,350. The stunning Voyage Collection is targeted towards destination weddings with lighter fabrics and slimmer silhouettes, perfect for sunny beaches and suitcases, and again in sizes six to 30. These gowns are priced around the £600-£1,000 mark. The Julietta collection, designed The Morilee Collections for the fuller figure and available Catering for every conceivable in sizes 18-34, typically retails from modern-day bride is well and truly Morilee’s raison d’être. The own name £1,000 to £1,800 per gown. Finally, AF collection, which showcases Morilee’s Couture is Morilee’s more elaborate collection with highly decorative latest on-trend fashions, comes in designs and features on luxurious sizes six to 30 and retail prices are fabrics; these dresses are the label’s between £1,000–£5,000. The Blu most expensive gowns, retailing Collection is made up of gowns in fantastic for us. Our stands were overwhelmingly busy and we saw all of our regular customers come back.” With retailers at the show requesting more point-of-sale materials that carry the Morilee branding – for example, hangers, window displays etc – it is clear that the label continues to resonate with the brides and acts as a big draw for boutiques.

between £1,500 and £3,500. The label also designs a line of beautiful prom dresses and bridesmaids gowns in a whole host of colours. Stockist Savvy Morilee takes looking after its stockists very seriously; priding itself on customer care has secured the label the Best Customer Service Award by the RBA for three years in succession. Most stockists choose from a selection of dresses across the collections to ensure they accommodate every bride and budget. Morilee also provides point-of-sale material for in-store displays, samples for wedding shows or designer weekends, as well as a loan service of dresses. Morilee will

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Times they are a-changin’… Instagram and Facebook, in particular, have also opened up new opportunities for Morilee in terms of bridal-reach. “Brides-to-be want to see more than just product shots on these sites; they are looking for real brides with real stories in real-life settings,” says Graham. “Luckily, our brides are so proud of their dresses that they love us sharing their images, so provide us with lots of great content, and this, alongside more traditional advertising methods in print magazines, means we can continue to develop new digital advertising opportunities too.” Keeping abreast with sea changes in the industry and choosing to pioneer, rather than follow, these shifts have also stood Morilee in excellent stead. The increasing trend for sustainability in fashion has trickled through to bridal with eco-weddings proving popular. Morilee is now using reusable (not just recyclable) packaging from their production facilities.

Make mine a mermaid! Stand-out attention to detail

also supply any additional marketing support that individual stockists request to best suit their particular needs. Granting exclusivity is calculated depending on geographic location and population density. Customisation and accessories Morilee has listened to retailers and is pleased to be supplying additions to their gowns to give brides a feel that they can customise their dresses. These include different colour bust cups (in either nude or the dress colour itself); sheer bodices featuring reversible, detachable linings with one side ivory and the

other nude, as well as beaded straps with all strapless dresses to give brides another option. The label also supplies additional appliqué, fabric, and beads for most styles to add further personalisation. Additionally, many Morilee dresses are available in three lengths. Building on retailers’ feedback, Morilee continues to match accessories to dresses to assist in painting brides a picture. Belts, headpieces and veils can be twinned with dress details such as lace patterns, beads or crystals. Top tip for stockists: Morilee’s veils are proving particularly popular!

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On high-street and internet challenges… “We cannot be complacent, especially as today’s young consumers are far less familiar with making purchases in an actual shop,” says Graham. “Bridal retailers, with help from designers, manufacturers and even TV shows, need to make brides want to experience the excitement and emotion of buying their dress as part of the overall wedding planning process.” It is the boutiques that continue to capture brides’ imaginations and hearts and to them all credit is due. With five unique and stand-out collections to their name, designers like Morilee are working hard to assist retailers as best they can by creating accessible dresses that today’s brides can personally engage with and feel connected to. Morilee +44 (0)1636 700889


Styled by Steam


WITH C HE N CA F RO M R I TVA W ESTE N I U S A catch-up with Chenca is always a delight. Here, we marvel at her impassioned clarion call to the brides themselves...


aking over the Ritva Westenius name in 2016, Chenca shares with us her take on the bridal industry from the perspective of a designer boutique in London. Her thouhgts are as illuminating and impassioned as they are thought-provoking... Hi Chenca! What made you move away from supply and focus on the flagship London shop? My central aim is to keep the label alive in my mother’s name as a legacy to her. Surviving economically and standing alone in London has meant we’ve had to tighten our belts; narrowing our focus and specialising on the shop has been the best way to honour my mother’s life work. The challenges the bridal industry is now embroiled in, we saw coming ten years ago: cheaper brands that make it harder for stockists to sell, labels being abused with cheaper, lookalike dresses… we knew that moving from a handful of loyal stockists to only supplying Brides of York was the only viable option. This allows me to focus on designing one-of-a-kind, unique dresses that carry the Ritva Westenius name and keep it alive. Tell us about the bridal scene in the high-end world of London fashion and designers… We’re honestly up against it. I’m watching all over London as shops are disintegrating. It’s frightening and truly heartbreaking. The independentboutique’s spirit is being destroyed by sites like WED2B, which has made shopping for bridal akin to bargainbasement hunting. I could honestly cry. Oh Chenca, no! But before we get too bleak, what do you think the industry can do about the current situation and state of play? I actually think it’s the public – the brides – that needs re-educating (the industry is pulling out all the stops to get creative and diversify). Did you see Stacey Dooley Investigates… Fashion’s Dirty Secrets? People’s shopping habits need to change and we have to stop buying cheap rubbish.

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believe self-worth and a sense of self is fundamental. Ian Stuart, for example, is one of my greatest friends but there’s no point in trying to emulate his style; it’s just not me and I know that sticking to what you’re good at gives you confidence in your style and brings your label integrity. Finally, you have to have zero pride and be realistic about your business: I look after the garden, I wash the windows, and I clean the toilets too!

Sumptuous fabrics Chenca’s dresses are tantalisingly tactile and standout sensational

This has now become an ethical issue that causes real harm to those who are being exploited. In all walks of life, people want instant gratification; in the bridal world, this translates to buying cheap dresses online. I still believe in creating that forever dress. I want the brides to rekindle a passion for owning that forever dress. My wish is for brides to support beautiful handmade dresses and understand that we’re not trying to rip them off. Hmm, interesting. We agree that the brides themselves are key (read more food for thought from the brides on page 46). What would you say is the best business philosophy to adopt in the present climate? I think a healthy dollop of honesty about who you are and what you bring is absolutely key. In many ways, for example, I am the worst saleswoman on the planet. I don’t put the pressure on and say to brides, “you must order this dress now because it takes suchand-such amount of time to make it…” I can turn dresses around really quickly, so if someone walks in and says they want a dress in three weeks, I say yes I can make your dress. I also

I’m drawn to your Gatsby dress in the collection (a stunning 1920s-style satin gown), but I’ve read somewhere that you don’t like tulle... is this true?! Perhaps it’s my previous life as a ballet dancer but really darling, tulle is for tutus! Net is just not a good fabric so that’s why I’ve created a new fabric with my company that mixes tulle with hand-beaded elements for a more textured look. Whatever it’s made of, a wedding dress should be beautifully cut and designed to be as unique as the bride who wears it. It’s simple really: you’re designing for real women and they are your best walking advert.

Another woman who multitasks! Chenca, we salute you! We’ve been discussing whether boutiques should list the prices of their dresses on the website (see p 38)… Ritva Westenius That would be impossible for us, a + 44(0) 20 7706 0708 designer label. Our dresses are all plain to begin with – it’s akin to a piece of art, and at the outset, the dress is a blank canvas; it’s for the bride to choose her distinctive ‘colour’. Adding embellishments and handbeaded additions makes the dress a truly designer dress, made just for the bride. And for this reason, stating in advance the cost of a dress would be unworkable. To my mind, a designer label creates unique dresses – I never copy dresses but create them! This is a matter of integrity and I’ll always stick to my guns on this one! What’s next for Ritva Westentius? I’ll continue to think outside the box! My mother’s archives, for example, are truly a treasure trove and form part of my much-cherished inheritance (Ritva has kept every single original sketch and pattern design since her time with the Parisian couture houses in the 1950s). Perhaps I’ll paper an entire wall with these designs and call it my historical wall! I also think the demographic of brides is changing, centring around age. We are now dressing women of maturing age and these women have different looks in mind. There’s longevity in really simple and classic styles and that’s why the ‘50s-style dress shape has real staying power. We’ll continue to stay abreast of demand and deliver exactly what brides today are looking for.

Feline groovy Everything about this glorious woman screams idiosyncratic chicness... is that a bejewelled cat collar we espy?.

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U K BRIDAL W E E K WI L L I N T R ODUCE T H E N E WEST COLL ECTI O NS Many big names showing at the inaugural edition of UKBW will be reserving their main collection for the Birmingham event. Save the date now – 12-14 May – and visit ukbridalweek. for regular updates


he research findings that have formed the structure for the buying circuit’s newest trade event, the long-awaited UK Bridal Week, indicate a clear picture of the industry today, with its many strengths, its current challenges and, more than anything else, its need to change. Competition from high-street specialist chains and bridal collections created as add-ons to leading fashion brands looking to broaden their reach, coupled with the increasing

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availability of online product, have added to the uncertainty that runs throughout the industry – not just here but across the world. But, talk to the well-established retailers who have a clearly defined target audience and the marketing nous to reach it, and they are reporting steady sales and year-on-year increases. Why? Well, they say it is because they are focusing on quality brands, on designer names, on bridal fashion with bravo, making it plain they are interested in the bride with a




generous budget and preference for luxury labels that carry a prestigious, respected name. And brides who, of course, do want that fairytale experience that only true professionals can deliver. These same retailers, research has shown, are single-minded in their buying, handpicking the brands that they know their audience will respond to and, within those collections, the pieces that possess a special personality. By pegging themselves at the premium end of the market, they are not challenged by the high street, or the internet, or the budget ranges on offer to consumers on a tight budget. All of this has influenced the shape and form and aim of UK Bridal Week, where quality, not quantity, is the key factor. Some of the labels showing will have aired their secondary collections earlier in the year, but it is their core big brands’ 2020 ranges that will get

Save the date


1 2 - 1 4 M AY 2 0 1 9 U K B R I D A LW E E K . C O . U K

their first-time viewing in May at the Birmingham show. Timing is crucial in this business of ours and increasing suppliers are looking for a once-a-year opportunity to showcase and sell their main collections, putting sales reps on the road to visit stockists each month. Retailers, too, who recognise the need to be in their shops dealing with customers and with enough time to concentrate on their own marketing and communications campaigns, have

given an annual event the thumbs up, and the May date as best suited for their delivery needs. So no... at UK Bridal Week you will not see mass-market brands that will sell to one and all and are priced to compete with the high street; and you will not see hundreds and hundreds of collections that simply replicate each other’s offering. What you will discover at this newstyle trade event are the labels that will put you, as a boutique owner, on a different stage. Here, luxury is the style and exclusivity is a major selling point. This is, after all, what the future of bridal is all about. For further information about visiting and exhibiting at UK Bridal Week, Enzoani contact Gary Barbe +44 (0)7908 653364

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Another hot topic – should retailers be transparent about prices? Many say they are but just as many are nervous, it seems, for fear they’ll be under cut by competitors


YO U R P R O B L E M S O UR S O LU T I O N S “Yes, I accept the fact that we all go online and price compare when we are shopping for ourselves and that what we find influences our immediate choices. Would this work in our industry? Brides would know exactly what they are dealing with (no wasting a retailer’s time when only high-street dresses are affordable) and there would be no shock-horror surprises at a first appointment. The market and shopping habits are changing so fast but are we changing in line with consumer expectations?”

Emma Hartley Emma Hartley Bridalwear Colne, Lancs


Yes of course a bride should be able to find out the price of the dress she has fallen in

love with on your website. Often, unfortunately, when she contacts a retailer she will be subjected to an intense interrogation or a point-blank refusal to hand over the price. In my opinion the simple reason this is happening in bridal retail is because no one is prepared to play nicely! We have all been there, Saturday afternoon, a bride trying on your brand-new collection, the one you had researched thoroughly and were so excited to take on because no one else within 30 miles was a stockist.

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” I love this dress – I tried it on this morning at a different shop,” says your bride excitedly. It feels like a dagger to the heart; how can this have happened? You carry on the consultation trying to be jolly whilst feeling slightly nauseous. Of course, your bride “wants to think about it”. You then check the website and your worst fears are confirmed, shop X ten miles down the road now also has the collection and to add insult to injury, of the 30 dresses in the collection, the ones they

are promoting are the same eight you stock! So then (full disclosure) you ring shop X to find out the price and this is where the frustration really sets in hard. Shop X refuses to reveal the price to your bridal enquiry even when you explain that you are on a tight budget and your mum lives three million miles away and you don’t want to waste every one’s time by booking an appointment. The only way to find out the price it seems, is to book an appointment – only then will the price be revealed!

If this seems frustrating and ridiculous to us trying to do a price comparison how frustrating and bizarre must this seem to a bride? So, do we immediately contact the supplier and demand to know why shop X has the dresses? Probably not and here lies another flaw in this industry: we realise the supplier has basically shafted us, but we have 25 of their dresses hanging on our rails and there is no opportunity or cash available to take on a replacement designer. We don’t want to be a difficult customer because they’ve got shop X now and if we drop the label we are handing exclusivity

Carol Roberts Carol’s Bridal Boutique Carlisle, Cumbria


They do say ‘honesty is the best policy’ and this ethos has been adapted into every part of my business. I’ve made the choice to be open and honest with all my customers since I opened the doors to the boutique back in 2010. It’s well known that the majority of brides take to

to that competitor, leaving ourselves with empty rails. So we secretly fume every time a bride says: “Oh, I’ve just tried this on” or “I have an appointment at shop X next.” They are probably undercutting us, but we never know for sure due to the secret pricing policy. This is what is wrong with this industry: many retailers daren’t speak up or rock the boat for fear of the implications and this is what some suppliers rely on. Why is this happening? Where is the bridal retailers’ code? Why, when there are so many designers out there, do retailers copy the designers of their local competitors? If every store

had a reasonable range of exclusivity, brides wouldn’t be price-matching and if they had to travel 20-30 miles just to save £100 they might not be bothered. We are doing ourselves no favours stocking the same dresses and how boring for our brides to see the same dresses in shop after shop. It’s easy to say that they will choose the one with the best service but if the service is comparable then they will choose the best price. I think there should be a bridal retailers’ code that every retailer signs up to. Absolute minimum exclusivity of 20 miles and RRPs that we stick to. For the record, we

always give our prices when requested and if a bride rings to try to get a better deal on a dress she has tried elsewhere, we ask her the price and if she was happy with the service. If the answer is that the price is reasonable, and she is happy with the service, we will tell her to order the dress wherever she tried it on. We are not about to try and steal a sale from someone. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, do as you would be done by. But I am updating my strategy: you play nicely and I’ll play nicely, but if you decide to stock one of my labels I might just take a shine to one of yours!

policies, which they discuss my customers. I feel that the internet to research with the customers during everything for their wedding by providing our pricing their appointments. structure we will attract including their dress. I We follow this strategy those brides who have the made the decision to list through in black and white budget and are ready to our pricing structure on in our terms and conditions, commit to a designer gown. the store’s web page to thus ensuring we build a We provide our brides ensure our customers solid relationship with our with a professional are fully informed before customers. they arrive and Having just therefore there I feel that by providing our pricing completed our are no surprises. This also helps structure we wll attract those brides eighth year in business, and us avoid any who have the budget and are ready having made embarrassing a significant situations such as to commit to a designer gown increase in sales a bride falling in this year, I will love with a gown continue to pursue a course that she simply can’t afford. consultation and for me that clearly leads to success; Obviously, with the launch this includes ensuring that we will carry on doing what every one is fully informed in the UK of a big bridal we are doing well. of everything she needs to chain selling off the peg For me, being open and and at incredibly low prices, know when choosing the honest is the only way I can most important dress she I also want to ensure that truly offer a professional the customers who visit my will ever buy – from the service to my customers. pricing of gowns through store are not wasting their I believe in the same time and, more importantly, to additional costs such as policy when is comes to extra length, modifications, my time. supplier and retailer but If that high street offering alterations, etc. that’s for another day! My team is fully trained is what they want to buy and versed in the store then they are simply not D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 8 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ 39


Rebecca Baddeley The Dressing Rooms Halesowen, West Midlands

Nicola Garton The Wedding Shop Colchester, Essex


There is no doubt that brides are becoming more savvy with their shopping habits and price comparing has never been so relevant. The bridal entourage can be sitting in an appointment and as soon as a favourite dress is agreed on, they are

and shown within a highly However, here, I think, is So for me this the problem: We are selling professional website. debate is a doubleBrides have no idea what a luxury item, a beautiful, edged sword. I am emotional, once-in-a-lifetime a true designer dress should all for being upfront and not only look like but feel like purchase… and there are transparent, especially when it is tried on. This before a bride books is the dilemma we face, with us so I rejoice! Brides have no idea what a and it is one that can YES YES YES – let’s put our prices on our true designer dress should only be resolved with education. website…. In my opinion, massive Then the little guy not only look like but feel financial investment on my shoulder says: like when it is tried on from our suppliers is NO NO NO don’t do it! needed if we are to Why? Well I’ve educate tomorrow’s bride analysed and agonised over literally millions of cheap on just what the difference is copies out there! However, this. Of course, it makes between the two. Until then, many of those cheaper perfect sense, we all want I think I’ll sit tight on the price offerings look amazing to know the price before thing… but then again, I might online having been treated we buy or even consider change my mind tomorrow! to fantastic photography anything we look to buy.

their store and I believe this cuts down on the number openly on their phones ‘honesty is the best policy’ shopping around for other of brides waiting to order, approach works. leaving us ‘hanging’ for shops where they can Using a more transparent weeks while they visit potentially get it cheaper. approach throughout the I completely agree with other stores. industry will only work if all It is frustrating when transparency in pricing designers set their own RRP. brides are travelling to and all prices are clearly Brides price comparing various destinations for displayed on our website. wouldn’t be an Being honest issue – it simply and open with Knowing the prices before they wouldn’t happen your customers arrive in store eliminates any shocks – if all shops is crucial to build across the UK trust. Brides can and that awkward moment when agreed to use research dresses in advance (which they want to try on a gown three the same price structure. they always do times their budget But this is and come armed not the case: it with a long list!), is known that retailers do what is a bargain in their and knowing the prices alter their prices based on eyes, when in fact the £100 before they arrive in store location, and this is where they may be saving they eliminates any shocks and the lines get blurred. have spent on petrol! that awkward moment Unless all designers set Many bridal shops are when they want to try on now stating on their website their own prices and follow a gown three times their the same rules, it might be that they offer a clear budget. a struggle for nationwide pricing as an incentive for Price transparency transparency to work. potential brides to choose

We’d like more views on this topic. And we’d like links to website that are showing prices – we can’t find many. Email me, 40 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 8


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Bright Young Things New on the scene: what will the next generation of brides opt for?

The New T Consumer The bridal market is already fraught with challenges, from online copycats, to mass-market stores undercutting traditional retailers, but one of the biggest is yet to come: catering for the new consumer. Jade Pepperell, Editor of Love Our Wedding investigated to see where we stand today... 46 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 8

he new consumer was born in a digital age, with the ability to find exactly what she wants, wherever and whenever she wants, at the tap of an app. She has access to Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and hundreds more apps designed to make the search process quick and easy. Currently in her twenties, she may never have thought about her wedding day, but when she does, where will she start? Where will she shop? Where will she find inspiration? What is she looking for? What’s important to her? And in an age where www. has been her go-to for everything, how will she find you? We’ve used our resources to source a bunch of hard-working women aged 20-28, not currently engaged, but with weddings on their not-too-distant radar, to see exactly how they shop, where and why. It makes for a very interesting read…

Where did you look for inspiration? Ten years ago, most brides would have answered this question with the biggest source of all things bridal – wedding magazines. They would be bursting at the seams to rush to the nearest supermarket during the on-sale day to get their hands on the latest copy. They would cut out their favourite bits and paste them into scrapbooks creating a moodboard of ideas (ring any bells?). Well, it appears that our new consumer wouldn’t have even thought to look here first… in fact, of all the women we asked, only 20% had bought any print magazine within the last year, with a whopping 45% having not bought one for over a decade. Shocking, isn’t it? But does this mean the print magazine has no novelty at all? Thankfully not, as 50% of the women we spoke with said that they would most likely buy a wedding magazine if/when they get engaged, but probably as a one-off purchase. Unsurprisingly, all the women we spoke with – the full 100% of them – said that they would read a free print wedding magazine. It seems the new consumer isn’t as comfortable parting with cash for print as their sisters were in previous years – and why would she when she can receive all the information she needs online, for free? This is of course reflective in newsstand sales and, unfortunately, has resulted in the closures of so many big names in publishing.

the average. Interestingly, across the group, the spend allocated to the dress from the overall wedding budget came in at 17.75%. That’s really quite considerable (and encouraging)! Where do you think you can buy wedding dresses? With this, we really wanted to test the knowledge of women who weren’t engaged. Without having actively searched before, would they know? It appears so… 100% of the women we spoke to suggested that you find wedding dresses in bridal boutiques (phew!), but they all also listed other places. Online was frequently mentioned and high-street names like ASOS, Debenhams and Monsoon also came up for these brides suryeyed.

How much would you budget for your dress? Most brides had a ready-made answer for us here ranging from £1,000-£5,000!

These women shop online regularly and may have subliminally spotted the ‘wedding’ tab on a website drop down, or seen a flashing advert on the side bar, but the chance of a 25-year old walking into Monsoon and venturing into the wedding section is unlikely, unless she was there specifically to look at the bridal offering. Today’s consumer may well follow high-street brands on social media too, and spot the odd wedding promotion; they wouldn’t, however, All about the dress… follow bridal boutiques before they’ve We asked many questions on this subject, of course, and got lots of actually got engaged. Where would you shop for your thought-provoking answers. dress? Great news – 100% of the Firstly we asked: How much do women we asked said that they would you think wedding dresses cost? Answers varied from £500 to £5,000+! shop in their local bridal boutiques; It seemed that no one was particularly 35% said they would also check sure how to answer this question, but online, however, but some expressed they were a lot more forthcoming with scepticism having heard about online fraudsters and various shopping the following one: disaster stories. How much would you budget for So, good news – the modern bride your dress? There was less hesitation will still want to shop in your boutique here, in fact, most had a ready-made for her wedding dress. But what will answer for us, varying from £1,000seal the deal? We asked our group £5,000, with £2,200 coming out as

that vital question: What’s more important – dress price or shop service? Some women expressed the view that both were a priority, but generally, answers were split 50/50. Not particularly helpful, I’m afraid, but it gives you an indicaton of the the consumer’s thinking. Would you want a one-to-one experience, or would you be happy with other brides in the boutique at the same time? Incredibly, more than 80% of answers stated that they wouldn’t mind other brides shopping at the same time. Some expressed that if that was the price to pay to get a more affordable gown, then so be it. Interesting… What would you expect from your dress shopping experience? Bearing in mind previous comments, we thought responses to this question would be based on money. Thankfully, that just wasn’t the case. The attitude of the sales staff proved to be key. Many participants said that this would be the deciding factor as to whether they bought a dress from a specific shop or not – if staff were pushy or rude, then they would go elsewhere. With comments like: “I wouldn’t want to be treated like a regular person”, “I would want them to listen to what I wanted, not what they wanted to sell”, and “I would want them to take an interest in my taste”. It’s clear that these women want support and good advice and do not want to feel pressured into trying a certain style they don’t want, or being told something looks amazing when they feel horrible in it. The appointments have to be led by them, but assisted by the staff. Eighty percent of the group put the dress in their top three wedding priorities (with more than 60% putting it top), and all want the experience to be perfect. Not much has changed over the years there then. Where you come in… So how will these modern brides find you? Nearly everyone we spoke to said they would simply google ‘bridal boutiques’ in their region. Only one

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woman said she would scour her local claimed they wouldn’t actively go to a boutique looking for samples, unless, town. No one said they would find a of course, they came from a specific shop in a magazine. designer, who would normally be out Never before has it been more of their league. important to have a website that’s It seems it’s the wording – ‘sample as polished as your shop. This will sale’ – that’s putting brides off when be the first impression brides-to-be they go into a boutique. Fashion’s will have of your offering. More than half the women we spoke to said that answer to the same problem is they would follow bridal boutiques on labelling sale rails with a ‘last chance to buy’ message – a much more social media but, interestingly, they would not use this platform to find the appealing way of saying the same thing, with fewer connotations. shops on an initial first search. What about the trend for the One for the girls second wedding dress? The shorter hemline with less weight, ready-made Finally, we then asked about for a night of dancing? Only 10% of the the bridesmaids. A decade ago, women we asked said that they would bridesmaid dresses were a staple of the British bridal boutique, but with consider a second dress, preferring, so many high-street stores creating they felt, to pour their entire dress budget into one design, and using any beautiful, full-length and short left over towards photography, venue, designs that are fit for a very special occasion, and price tags that don’t food and accessories. make you wince, has this impacted Would brides consider buying a the modern market? reduced-price sample? With massOf course it has. The average market retailers selling new dresses budget for bridesmaid dresses came and having them instantly available, shifting samples has never been more out at a respectable £120, but when challenging for the bricks and mortar asked where they would purchase these, only 20% boutique. So, is The average bridesmaid even mentioned it the price, the bridal boutiques. fact that they’re dress came out at a The high street not sparkling new, or the respectable £120... but only came out on top, followed by online. competition 20% mentioned purchasing The emphasis on from the high the bridesmaid just street that’s the these from boutiques... wasn’t there – the issue? people we asked seemed to imply Actually, it’s none of the above, according to our survey. With not one that bridesmaid attire was more of an afterthought and not a crucial spend. woman even mentioning the likes With companies like Ted Baker, of Wed2B, it was interesting to hear Debenhams, Monsoon, Coast and responses to the buying samples ASOS creating such beautiful dresses question. The main issue was that the modern woman could wear again they didn’t even know such things and again, it’s not hard to see why existed! After all, fashion shops don’t these answers came back. have samples, it’s all off-the-peg, so It’s not all doom and gloom, to those new to the wedding arena, though. Recognising that there is this is a completely new concept. less of a promotional emphasis When we explained what a sample sale actually was, the attitude on bridesmaid dresses in bridal boutiques, we wondered if our group changed. The majority of the women were fully aware of the availability and said that they would consider it, as often wide choice (and flexibility) of long as the price was right, and the dress looked brand new (dry cleaned occasionwear in specialist shops. Well, It appears this could well be and pressed to perfection). They

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the case. We then asked whether they would buy bridesmaid dresses at the same time as their dress, if the shop stocked them. The answer? As long as the dresses were something the bridesmaids could wear again, and the price was within the budget, then absolutely. This got us thinking – how many bridal boutiques shout about the fact that they have bridesmaid dresses in store? When brides book appointments, are they asked if they will be bringing their bridesmaids to try on beautiful dresses, too – space and sales staff permitting, of course? Are there bridesmaid dresses on the boutique’s website and on display in the shop? Is there such a thing as bridesmaid-only appointments? Any and every idea that would draw attention to this area is well worth thinking about (see some of our top tips for bridesmaids on p58.) The new wave bride Having spoken to this next generation, questioned their views and challenged their attitudes, we can see the many positives that exist. Tomorrow’s bride assumes she will shop for bridal in a bridal boutique; she has a reasonable budget; she still considers her dress as one of, if not the most, important purchase of her day; she hasn’t heard of online giants, the likes of Wed2B, for example. She is as excited for her special day and beautiful dress as every generation before her. The main difference is how you find her, and how she finds you. She needs to be reached through different, new, and technological channels, tapping into the modern world in order to ensure she books that appointment with you before anyone else. With attention and service still absolutely key, it seems that it’s not what she’ll do when she’s in store that’s the issue, it’s how you get her there in the first place. With a little bit of time and money invested in the right places, and clever promotion and advertising, you will have this new wave of brides knocking on your door in no time. Bring them on…

METROPOLITAN Contemporary statements and minimal aesthetics

BR I EF LY... Billy Fitzsimons has taken charge of the distribution of the Demetrios portfolio for the UK and Ireland. We got the questions in minutes before we went to press... You have taken on one of our favourite brands – Demetrios. How did that come about? There is an old Jewish saying – it was beshert – it means ‘it was meant to be’. What do you feel makes this stable of collections stand out? The brand has its own sense of styling, fashion flair, exclusive fabrics… its collections – all six of them – are ahead of the curve. Currently, how many Demetrios stockists are there in the UK? Will you be looking to increase that number? 50 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 8

DEMETRIOS Romantic, elegant, bold and timeless

There are more than 1,000 stockists across the world and 40 key players in the UK and Ireland. If others become part of the network here it will be because they recognise the brand’s values and because we, in turn, see the merits of doing business with them. It’s a two-way thing. Do stockists get area exclusivity/style exclusivity? Yes, most definitely and, of course, depending on orders placed and ranges stocked. Will there be a minimum requirement on orders? The old chestnut! Yes, there will be, but it will depend on each individual situation. Will you be planning trunk shows and designer days for your retailers? Demetrios has always been customer-aware and recognises what can make a difference. Trunk Shows and loan samples are all part of the offering. As far as we are concerned, the customer is king. What support will the brand receive in terms of advertising and promotion and where will you advertise and promote? We are very pleased to be aligned to Wedding Trader to reach retailers; Love Our Wedding to get the message to brides, and Find Your Dream Dress to carry that allimportant digital message.

PLATINUM Opulent, dazzling, luxurious

DESTINATION ROMANCE Boho, ethereal and airy

OREASPOSA Lace over tulle: Exquisite detailing with a row of satin buttons

How do you, Billy, advise retailers to up their game in the face of the high-street big boys? Retailers, remember it is your service, the diversity of the collections you carry, and that bridal experience you offer that make YOU stand out from everybody else. Always play to your strengths. Do you see Brexit affecting the industry and in what ways? I have no mystical powers to see what others don’t know. This industry is constantly changing and successful businesses have learned to adapt. They will cope, whatever comes their way. Worse things happen at sea, as they say. What are you most looking forward to about handling Demetrios? I have known the family personally and socially for 27 years through the bridal legend, David Lesser, and I have always been an admirer of all that they do and stand for in the industry. We now have the opportunity to act on behalf of one of the very best, Best contact to see the collection now? Call Billy or Helen on +44 (0)1707 643633 or email Visit and get inspired!

COSMOBELLA Contemporary femininty with classic adornments

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WWW.CATHERINEPARRYBRIDAL.COM Retailer areas available in many parts of the UK & ROI. Retail prices from £545 (SRP). Low minimums. For further details call +(0)1443 222600 or email


Prom Frocks Prom princesses and party-goers alike want to look amazing and they’ll invest time, effort and budget to stand out. Check out this selection of labels that are firmly focused on getting attention and adding that all-important touch of red-carpet wow

ETERNITY PROM Style: 12707 Fabric: Metallic taffeta, beaded collar Size range: 0-30 RRP: £329 T: +44 (0) 8707 707670 E: W:

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ELLIE WILDE FOR MON CHERI Style: EW119123 Fabric: Sequinned gown in gold and silver Size range: 0-18 RRP: POA T: +44 (0)1954 232102 E: W:

COLOUR BY KENNETH WINSTON Style: 5373L Fabric: Soft tulle Size range: 0-28 RRP: £280 T: +44 (0)1765 530282 E: W: D’ZAGE Style: DAB11713 Fabric: Chiffon with diamanté trim Size range: 0-28 RRP: £210 T: +44 (0)20 8502 2257 E: W:

CRYSTAL BREEZE Style: Estelle Fabric: Stretch jersey Size range: 0-18 RRP: £395 T: +44 (0)20 8541 1199 E: crystalbreeze@ W:

KELSEY ROSE Style: 12610 Fabric: corded lace Size range: 6-28 RRP: £309 T: +44 (0)20 8888 8833 E: W:

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LE PAPILLON BY MODECA Style: Esme Fabric: Tulle and lace Size range: EU 32-65 RRP: £2,000-£2,200 T: + 31 854899270 E: W:

RICHARD DESIGNS Style: 1095 Fabric: Chiffon Size range: 4-32 RRP: £189-£270 T: +44 (0)1353 661600 E: W:

SORELLA VITA Style: 8960 Fabric: Chiffon Size range: Standard and plus RRP: £229 T: +44 0800 961140 E: W: sorella-vita

GLAMOUR BY VK Style: BL6 Fabric: Chiffon with diamanté and beading Size range: 6-28 RRP: £299 T: +44 (0)1424 4391650 E: W:

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MOTEE MAIDS Style: Ellis Fabric: Hand-beaded tulle Size range: 6-22 RRP: £285 T: +44 (0)7967170774 E: W:

MORILEE PROM Style: 43001 Fabric: Net with crystal beading Size range: 0-26 RRP: £500 T: +44 (0) 1636 700889 E: W:

GINO CERRUTI Style: 7072C Fabric: Two-tone sequinned fabric Size range: 6-22 RRP: £599 T: +44 (0)20 3514 6994 E: W:

EMMA BRIDALS Style: EB7604 Fabric: Chiffon Size range: 0-28 RRP: £129-£249 T: +44 (0)1353 661600 E: W:

We get the industry low down on the top tips for making bridesmaids more visible, giving maids’ dresses a platform and your business a plug...

through!’ quite like the bridesmaids. We overlook bridesmaids at our peril. With high-street chains vying for purchase in the market for bridesmaids dresses, challenging the terrain may be for bridal boutiques to stand out and compete. But following on from our research on the spending habits of brides-to-be (see p.46) a golden opportunity lies in wait here. Thus far, the boutique experience has been primarily pitched to the ixie Lott recently revealed on bride and for the bride. But what if – Loose Women that she has with some clever use of technology appointed 18 of her closest – that same unique, one-to-one and friends as bridesmaids for her wedding next year. 18! Whilst research unsurpassable emphasis on customer care could be pitched to the bride’s from suggests that entourage too? today’s UK brides have an average So that got us thinking. You and us of 4.5 bridesmaids (a stat that truly both, we’re in the business of thinking makes us giggle), the trend for a outside the bridal box; especially bigger bridesmaid group continues. now when the pressure is being well For many of today’s brides then, and truly applied. And if there’s one nothing brings together a bridal look thing we know for certain, it’s that the and spells out ‘bridal party coming


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bridal industry is made up of some of the most creative and resourceful entrepreneurs on the planet. We touch base with the industry experts and ask for their top tips on how to bring bridesmaids into the fold… Always the bridesmaid…? These bridesmaids are your future brides! It is absolutely in your interest to invest time in these giggling gaggles of girls. Even – and especially – the flower girls (following the royal weddings, the trend for angelic flower girls is only set to continue). Tapping into, and then catering for, their excitement stands you in excellent stead. If they are given an experience that wows then they, in turn, are likely to come to you first when it’s their time to shine as the bride. Owner Catherine from Absolute Bridal Couture in Manchester makes a point of enquiring at that first initial




booking call exactly who is coming along to the visit as well as how many people. “This means I can cater for bridesmaids, too, if I know in advance they’re coming,” she says. Katy at Krystle Brides agrees: “We’ve found that once we’ve built the rapport with our bride, they get to know the quality of our service and are often keen to include their bridesmaids. If a bride has purchased their wedding dress from us, we offer a 10% discount on the purchase of bridesmaids dresses as a thank you for buying from us!” There is, however, real uncertainty amongst many of the brides we have spoken with surrounding the correct etiquette when it comes to bringing along their bridesmaids to boutiques. If you stock bridesmaids’ dresses, it is worth reviewing your policy on welcoming the bride’s entourage, and then reflecting this on your website. That said, many boutiques

be memorable not for its hustle and bustle into a fitting room that’s too small with bad lighting and smells of McDonald’s and feet… but for something else entirely. Because you are the There is real uncertainty amongst the Customer Care Queens brides we spoke with concerning the (and Kings). Not once has correct etiquette when it comes to anyone from Monsoon or Coast or ASOS bringing along their bridesmaids offered me a cup of tea to boutqiues... in vintage china and a delicate shortbread whilst I browse. Never have I been showcased? Space and time are invited to rest a while on a sofa made obvious considerations. So what of pure, padded heaven, whilst about trying these top tips… dresses are brought to me as though making me look good is the centre of Play to your strengths: someone else’s entire universe… But The Big Event you do. You do that every day (you’re You are emphatically not anything like the high street. And there is much amazing, by the way). And you know how that makes the bride feel. to be made of this. What you offer Bridesmaids, like you and me, is a day’s experience that seeks to feel strongly that two or three guests is the most they can accommodate in one sitting. But if you stock maids’ dresses, how and when do they get

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and colour options with the bridal are women who operate along parties. Team up with a shoe label exactly the same principles. Could and invite them along to the party! you host maids’ days and go to town on promotion across all your social media In their quest for the dress, of crucial platforms? On these occasions, make a difference between brides and centrepiece of your shop window and match bridesmaids is the ‘once in a lifetime’ a glorious bridal dress approach vs the ‘must be able to with some of your standout maids’ dresses to wear again’ philosophy help the girls visualise Ask them to bring heels of different the look. heights with the option to dye too. Bridesmaids’ experts Dessy Make sure you have an array of provide boutiques that carry their dresses with pull-up banners to assist underwear on hand to cater for the curves no matter the neckline! The their visibility at a VIP day in-store or key here is to keep every option open to decorate a shop window. Stocking a tried-and-tested successful named to these girls so they can grasp the brand label is the smart move for your endless possibilities… business (see more on the power of a NB: The point of departure famous name on p.26). In their quest for the dress, of crucial Network like crazy and really difference between brides and paint a picture: invite hair and makeup artists to the event to discuss style bridesmaid is the ‘once in a lifetime’

vs the ‘must be able to wear again’ approach. Krystle Brides carry Kelsey Rose bridesmaids dresses for exactly this reason: their lace bateaux-neck gown with chiffon skirt comes in an array of colours and is a best-seller because women want to put this on time and time again. Research suggests that whoever is paying (and increasingly it will be the maids themselves), maids’ minds are made up by one thing alone: versatility. Can they see themselves wearing these dresses again to justify the expense? This requires a significant mental shift in the sales team’s approach and should inform their tactics. Staff need to be able to ‘switch hats’ and make that maid’s dress ‘pop’ as the dress you can wear again and again. Catherine from Absolute Bridal Couture did her market research and stocks bridesmaids’ dresses from the Dessy Group for their flexibility in styles and huge range of colours.

“Arranging maids’ dresses in colourordinated sections within the shop brings some life and colour to an otherwise all-white boutique, and adds a note of vibrancy and fun,” says Catherine. “Being able to buy everything under one roof – even flower girl dresses – is certainly a selling point,” she adds. Not only is stocking the right sorts of dresses essential here, but the more that is on hand and available to show maids the variety of options with this look, the better. This could include different heel heights, shawls or pashminas to go from a summer to and autumn look, as well as stocking the right underwear. All of this, incidentally, affords an excellent opportunity to build relationships and establish links with other retailers. Play to your strengths: The One-To-One Just like your brides, a highlypersonalised and individually



A LOT OF FRONT Absolute Bridal Couture makes clever use of its space to display maids’ dresses... we love that flower girl rail!

-tailored approach that extends to the bridesmaids is a winning tactic to pursue. How can boutiques best make use of today’s technology to reach a bridal party of maids who could very well be flung far and wide up and down the country. We asked Dessy how they support their retailers in reaching the bridesmaids’ market: “Social media is the best (and cheapest) way to advertise bridesmaids’ dresses. We recently sent a mail shot to our stockists worldwide explaining how boosting their social media will help boost their sales. We included links to our Facebook and Instagram accounts, and told boutiques which #hashtags they could add to increase the visibility of their post. “We encourage stores to keep in touch with their customers after the wedding and, if they receive photos, to share them on social media, tagging the style, colour, their shop name and the bride. Such tactics ensure

maximum exposure.” If you carry maids’ dresses, think about setting up a dedicated page on your website that can be personalised by the bride after she has been for a visit to discuss her theme. It may be that the picture of the maid’s dress she likes can, through your site, be ‘shared’ with all the maids, with space for comments between them and Q&As from them to you. Colour swatches and precise measurements can then be discussed on your site with different options highlighted and individual needs catered for (pregnant brides, for example, or plus-size, or those who’d prefer their arms covered up) Perhaps even the option to FaceTime could be made available? The point is that this affords an opportunity for dialogue between the three central players here: the bride, the bridesmaids, and you. And as we all know – bridesmaids most of all – it’s good to talk!

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Second opinion Open any newspaper, switch on the TV or tap on your ipad and you’ll hear doom and gloom about yet another major high-street chain going down the pan. Before you throw a wobbly, listen to what Ellie Sanderson has to say


s the retail sector dying? I am so sad and tired of reading this headline and somewhat astonished that people believe it. Physical retail is not dead, far from it. Retail is transforming into something new. Boring, undifferentiated, irrelevant and unremarkable stores are dead or dying but retail lives on. We still buy food, we buy clothes, we have babies, we get married and we live a longer life than ever before, so why would we stop needing retail? It is, however, easy to see why some believe this headline – all we hear is news of high-street stores closing, going into liquidation or being bought out by super brands. If we still need retail then why is this happening? Sadly, many of these traditional retailers failed to establish an online presence quickly enough to defend against the rise of e-commerce.

w The UK is the highest internetCompanies like BHS, ToysRus, Staples, Barratts, JJB Sports, House of spending nation in the world. Fraser, C & A, Focus DIY, Jane Norman According to 2015 figures, an average of £4,600 was spent per annum per – the list is endless. I also believe household on online purchases. That there are many more to come. was three years ago, so what are we I think there are two very clear spending now? reasons for the closure of A poll found that 81.5% w A poll of consumer these iconic companies and of shoppers in the UK first habits found that 81.5% of shoppers in the UK those retailers look at a product in a first look at a product who are physical retail store, in a physical store then struggling. compare prices online then compare prices before making an The internet I’m telling you online before making an online purchase. something online purchase ➢w 50% of consumers you didn’t purchase electronics know right? It online – things like mobile phones, would be inaccurate to say that the computers, televisions and gadgets – internet is the sole reason for the without visiting shops at all, ➢ decline of the high street but it is, unquestionably, a massive factor in w It is important to understand that the transition that is happening right new technologies and new ways now.

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to connect with the consumer are transforming the retail sector. w The intelligent information gained from online shoppers is astonishing – it shapes future designs and buying, giving online retailers the upper hand. The consumer is telling the wholesaler what they want with their search terms, leaving a footprint across the site with searches and this is all captured and used to ‘personalise’ communications for the future buying seasons. w Internet business growth is in double digits whilst the high street is seeing negative growth.

know them are struggling against the clock. It’s like turning an oil tankard. Fortunately for bridal, most of us are in little rowing boats and so change is fast as we are nimble. w Some of these retailers who have not sought to offer experiences and multi-channel connection with the consumer cannot compete with the small retailers who can really offer that connection.

w Today’s consumers need constant connectivity – and that is I totally believe our time somethng many retailers is now. Small boutiques somehow fail to deliver. with great customer

connection, full of w The instore Our poor and online high streets inspirational ideas are experiences have I am not about to become blurred turn all Mary Portas the future, not large and our thinking on you but there are department stores needs to keep some fundamental up with what is problems that have current and what lies ahead. led to the closure of some of our favourite retailers that we need to acknowledge. Some of the issues are The future isn’t bleak – it’s different down to poor strategic planning and And that’s for all of us. Tomorrow is future proofing: exciting with new possibilities for forward-thinking retailers and I firmly w Retail giants are just that – GIANT. believe we bridal show owners are Their stores are difficult to navigate, time-consuming to shop in and, well placed for this change. Here are frankly, boring in terms of visual some of the things we need to grab on presentation. Premium brands to and run with: simply cannot afford to offer such bland non-experiential service and w Within the next decade, shopping expect to survive in our current-day will change into an activity driven environment. entirely by experiences and interactive technology. Ask yourself what can you w Many of these retail giants have put in place in your boutiques now to been unable to change direction as get ahead and get noticed. they own their property portfolio, ➢ which means that they can’t downsize w It’s all about one-to-one connection, or just walk away. It was prudent something we do so very well in store to own retail space back then but do we all connect with our clients when the high street was the true after they leave our boutiques? shopping option but now it seems ➢ a risky strategy especially for those w What channels of connection do you behemoth department stores. have with your consumer and how are you joining the dots – Web, Insta, w Many of our retail giants as we Podcasts, Video, IGTV? We can’t hide

from it. Our consumers are expecting that communication and it will only get bigger and more powerful. Do you have a strategy for this? ➢w How can you make your boutique an inspiring space to be, an exciting experience that is followed up with personal connection? An example... One final thought on a point I have made already about the options consumers now have to buy a product. Let’s take a look at the originators of the multi-wrap bridesmaid dress. They stormed onto the market and were absolutely loved and hugely successful. Then they were copied, and look-alikes went online with Marks and Spencer, then Debenhams, then John Lewis. Now there are more than four companies in bridal offering a variation on the original product. Some cheaper, some more expensive, different colour palettes etc. The fact of the matter is simple: we still love the product and the consumer still buys the product. However, now she can choose online from lots of companies or instore from lots of companies... lots of colours, huge price variation and so on. The product has been fragmented and while the volume of production is probably the same as it was ten years ago, it is now split over ten companies and not one. Sad but true. Multi-channel options of how the consumer can buy the same product has certainly become the biggest challenge of our time. Finally, I totally believe our time is now. Small boutiques with great customer connection, full of inspirational ideas, are the future, not large department stores without any form of personal assistance and lacking excitement. Bridal retailers need to accept this change and challenge all we do in store to keep that experience alive and kicking. Give our clients a reason to want to visit us – excite, entice and make them feel valued and cherished within your brand.

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A L L U R E B R I D A L S . C O M

Fo r E n qu i ries p lease co n t act R o b er t o F iss o re: ro b er t o .f@allureb r idals .co m

On the network

It takes considerable input to get momentum through social media and the investment to achieve viral can take many hundreds of tries. My mentor, Rachel Pedersen, went viral (100,000+ viewers within a short period of time) with a short story about her wedding ring and the size of the diamond. I know how she did it!

Christine Skilton-Sinclair, owner of Love U Forever in Ashford, has leveraged multiple social networks and their millions of users to grow her own bridal boutique business. She recently partnered with Maria MusgroveWethey to run a Bridal Sales Training session that focused on her favourite topic...


ocial media helps businesses like mine to engage in two-way dialogue with customers. It also helps to target customers looking for wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, prom dresses and all your services. I get the most from social media by knowing who my customers are and ensuring that the content I post gets them to stop and take action. The way we introduce our offering to new customers has changed year on year and most of that is because of social media and the way today’s customer shops. This is why social media has to be part of your marketing campaign – it will drive you towards your engagement goals for developing your business. At my shop, I have brides coming in with dress images they have taken from my social media content. Let me take you on my social media journey...

From the beginning Before I get involved in any social media activity, I ask myself this question: who are the brides I want to work with? Then, where are they hanging out? Are they on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram? Where? There are so many social media platforms to choose from how can you choose the right one for your business? It is all too easy to get confused and open several accounts on different networks and just leave them open without any content. Whether they are general purpose networks, video networks, photo-sharing networks or business networks, they are costly to maintain, and extremely time consuming to support. My recommendation is to work on a maximum of three platforms and to devote the time and effort required to do a good, effective job rather than spreading your resources across more and failing to deliver that vital good content.

The social networks I love and why Facebook With more than two billion active monthly users Facebook is still the number one social network in the world. More and more businesses are using Facebook to maximise customer engagement. Your Facebook page can be used as the noticeboard for your boutique; your Facebook Profile is your communication channel, but while you are not able to use your profile for business, you can talk about your business activity – how much fun you are having at work today etc.. Messenger New to business, with a chatbot, this is also an instantmessaging social network that is part of Facebook and allows you to communicate with customers. It had some 1.2 billion monthly users as of April 2017. LinkedIn This is the world’s largest social network used by professionals. Students and recent college graduates make up its fastest-growing demographic. You can use LinkedIn to advertise jobs. The network has more than 500 million users. Google+ This is Google’s social network that is reported to have more than 100 million active users. This social network is tightly integrated with all the other Google services, such as email and calendar. Instagram This mobile social network is where users post photos using their smartphone. It’s called a photo- and video-sharing social network and is part of Facebook. Highly popular with adults between the ages of 18 and 29, it is a fantastic medium for previewing

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or highlighting new products and services. I love Instagram because weddings are all about pictures and you can use Instagram as a bride’s album, under a hashtag. It has roughly 375 million active users. Pinterest Pinterest has become one of the top social networks with in excess of 175 million active users, a large percentage of whom are females, with the highest household income compared to other social networks. Pinterest allows photos and videos to be shared from other sites. This is my best social network so far and I love the way brides use the platform. Ask any bride if she has a Pinterest account for her wedding and you will get a positive nod. I regularly achieve in excess of 100 pins for one image. Each network has a particular goal and, most of the time, content needs to be relevant to the specific audience. We bridalwear retailers

need to look at emerging trends made apparent on social media, at least on the large, general networks like Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, which continue to be the primary traffic drivers to a bridal boutique.

Apply this to your online business You might find a Facebook group, Pinterest, Instagram, Google, or forum where people are coming together, a popular blog/website or even a newsletter that many of your target market seems to subscribe too. Once you find out where your people are, Understanding and creating your create your ad. Your ‘bait’ offer will audience attract them to your website. Ask yourself who you are servicing When you know the who and the and where they congregate. This is my number one focus when it comes where, then your question about to marketing on social media. I started which social media network to post by looking at my client list and making on is much easier to deal with. You a note of my best customers, the ones can create relevant content directed who enjoyed the experience and who at the right audience via the right social media platform. Relevancy and I enjoyed working with most. creativity are key if you want to be Facebook is one of the best successful. platforms to use when looking at audiences. Facebook Pixels on My secrets on how I use social media your website are a great tool to can be shared through a free-ofhelp with audience understanding charge discovery call to see how we and targeting; I have used pixels on can deliver the appropriate strategy my website to target and measure for your business. Email christine@ audience activity on my website, to find out more. delivering massive growth of users.



T H E B R I D A L I N D U S T R Y T R A I N E R Est. 2003 E M P OW E R , I N N OVAT E , I N S P I R E . • Discover how to work smarter not harder.

• Industry specific in-house Training Courses.

• Improve your profits.

• Multiple Retailer Training days.

• Increase your turnover.

• Director Training.

• Learn how to have the edge and keep it.

• Management Training, and more.

Out now! The Wow Factor. The definitive book for brides to be. Contact me for details.

01582 451 238 / 07896 944 759

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T: @HCSalesTraining Insta: hccoaching LinkedIn: Helena Cotter

“I wish there was an easier way to ask about prices. It’s very intimidating and daunting contemplating spending the sums of money that bridal dresses demand, and I think sometimes the boutique owners forget that we have no frame of reference for ever spending this much on a dress ever before!”

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“It’s both difficult and a little offputting to really examine dresses when they are just stacked on a rail.”

“I visited one boutique with my mum and three of my maids but was told they could only accommodate three people at a time. Two of my maids were left out! I wish I have known in advance but couldn’t see any information on their website....”


“So many dress shops we visited hadn’t spent enough thought on their lighting; I ended up looking quite ill in some glaring, overhead and institutional-style lighting. I think there needs to be a separate ambience in the fitting area to the rest of the shop.”

“I loved the boutique that offered homemade chocolate truffles as we walked in. Diet? What diet!”


“I was a bit nervous about bringing to boutiques some pictures of dresses I already liked but weren’t from that shop. But in one memorable visit, the owner started collating my own moodboard, right there and then, featured around these dresses and with fabrics and embellishments pinned on as I tried on dresses to help recreate my dream look. I bought my dress from this shop!”


“My favourite experience was in a shop in Cardiff where they closed the whole store for me. They even let us take photos (that’s another rule that varies from shop to shop… some say you can snap away, others say you can’t!). It’s the little touches for not only the bride but the guests who patiently sit and watch that really made it for me.”

“I found my dress in a boutique and then really appreciated the assistant’s offer of a follow-up appointment with my bridesmaids. They had a range of dresses for them, too, and it really made a difference for us to be able to try on different maids’ ‘looks’ next to me in my dress. It helped me visualise the day.”

Out of the Mouths of (Bridal) Babes... One or two things to get off your decolletage? Your beautiful brides share with us their dress-search experiences as we give them a platform to speak with you direct: everything from what needs work to what worked out beautifully... Two schools of thought… “I had a very clear idea of what I wanted only to be discouraged by the assistants in one boutique who told me I’d look much better in a different style. I think it’s really important to trust the individual brides; they know what works on their bodies.”

“I thoroughly valued the assistants who took one look at me and confidently declared, “you need ethereal tulle and lots of it! Pronto!” – they were right! I don’t wear dresses and had no idea what suited me. I really needed their direction as well as their eye for what works well on a particular figure. I can’t tell you what a relief it was having these women get the (literal) measure of me!”

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Fairy tale comes to life in the 2018 ‘Love story’ collection. Bringing you exclusive designs incorporated by Diana Elizabeth dresses. Fine delicate embroidery and appliqué detailing the perfection of design and implementation. Diana Elizabeth dresses will make your wedding day a true ‘Love story’. Diana Elizabeth’s signature style is wedding dresses with and amazing silhouette and fit. Telephone +44 (0) 7850 855673

Getting our act together As we continue exploring the new-age customer and her shopping habits, Christine Marchant – who has been both retailer and supplier – shares her views on how the industry has to move forward... or fail

business for supplier and retailer alike. The wedding gown no longer has the emotional attachment it once had, it’s not stashed in a cupboard for 30 years like mine – it’s out there on the market, online as a once-worn dress. Today it is children before marriage so priorities have changed – budgets have been honed and this generation are savvy, online buyers who are not scared of taking a risk, seeking out the best deal, and generally wouldn’t buy without a discount code to hand.

Understand the other side The bridal industry is in a volatile period and it’s time for retailers and suppliers to work together and listen to each other’s concerns simply to survive. For a supplier it’s not about samples – it’s about repeats. However, to get repeats you have to have sold samples Harrogate was half the size and et’s face it – the retail industry in depth and retailers need to fully designers and manufacturers were is under threat and if you don’t support the labels they choose, not understand the shopping habits happy to show side by side, biinvest in them simply to deny their annually, and for four, yes four, days. of the Millennial and Generation Z Those were the days when retailers competitor the label. The socio– it’s time to do some homework as had time to spend with their suppliers, demographic of the bride likely to shop predictions are that it’s not about to minimum sample orders were realistic in that store must be kept in mind. change in the foreseeable future. If you expect area exclusivity the and easily achieved, and the whole Consumer confidence is at an supplier has every right to expect all-time low and high-street retail will industry seemed less frantic and exclusivity space on your rails. be all about survival of the fittest and less competitive. those who diversify their business Over the years large manufacturers Non-purchase of samples or a quick turnaround sale of a sample will into one that stands above the rest appeared offering gowns direct from see both the retailers and suppliers and satisfies the desire for quality, factories at prices unheard of, and revenue fall with the label… eventually uniqueness and service, should be slowly the show started to fracture. something has to give! well-placed for the challenge ahead. Designers felt the need to distance Retailers and suppliers should The bridal industry is no longer themselves from manufacturers choose each other carefully to ensure safely living in its own bubble as it had who were poles apart in product and the commitment is there from both during previous financially difficult price and soon the face of our trade sides for the longevity of the label. times – it is under attack from highexhibitions changed. It’s not been the Review sales together; don’t be scared street retailers, multiple chains, .com same since. of facing up to reality – if it’s not businesses and Brexit. With so many products on offer, It’s been an interesting journey inevitably many retailers took a scatter working agree and move on – retailers can’t afford to keep investing into a with a foot in both camps as a retailer gun approach and bought into new label not working and suppliers can’t and supplier and I’ve certainly seen labels, many of which went on to afford not to have repeat sales. many changes in this industry, but the introduce diffusion labels, thereby Bridal is not the cottage industry one that frustrates me is the inability watering down the product and it once was; today it has a great of many to embrace change or accept flooding the market with unoriginal number of professional, businesswhat is happening. Retail businesses collections, presented under a minded people, but it is also one that’s still pop up as so many established plethora of different names. The fighting for survival and those who names disappear, and they do so on number of marriages was in decline, are fit and ready will survive. Know the basis of emotion – which might not while the number of suppliers and your customer, know your supplier, make the most commercial sense. new bridal retailers were on the understand the local demographics When I came from the corporate increase entering a market they and take your business seriously – if world, the industry was viewed as thought was lucrative. not leave it to those who will. ‘cottage’, the Bridal Exhibition at Clearly, all it did was dilute the


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I N DEMA N D OUR BEST SELLERS We promised we’d bring you a regular round up of the gowns that are performing well at any one time. Here’s the latest...



Andrew and Rob Pearce CREATIQUES Southsea, Portsmouth Label Sincerity Style 44102 Best-selling size 14-16 Silhouette Soft fit-and-flare, with great internal structure Fabric Soft tulle, beaded appliqué detail, shapewear lining Customisation Can be worn with or without the jacket that is an optional add on RRP £1,287

Kimberley Fairfowl EDEN BRIDAL Belfast Label Sottero and Midgley Style Allen Best-selling size US 10 and 18 Silhouette Ballgown Fabric Tulle with beaded bodice Colour Ivory/nude/pewter RRP £2,195 74 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 8

Jemma Palmer HALO & WREN Hemel Hempstead Label E&W Style Isla gown with Tilly slip Best-selling size 16 Silhouette A-line Fabric Lace and silk Colour Ivory Customisation Custom made RRP £1,600

Ian Stuart BLEWCOAT London Label Ian Stuart Style Spotlight Best-selling size 16 Silhouette Mermaid with detachable ballgown skirt Fabric Matte satin, tulle and lace Colour Champagne Customisation It’s what the bride wants RRP £3,200

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Nicola Garton THE WEDDING SHOP Colchester Label Stella York Style 6701 Best-selling size 10 Silhouette A-line Fabric Lace and tulle over royal organza Colour Ivory Customisation Nope RRP £1,399

Want to take part in our next round up in a couple of months from now? Email me – susi@

Maria Kelly THE CONFETTI BOX Eccles, Manchester Label Maggie Sottero Style Tuscany Lynette Best-selling size 12 Silhouette Mermaid, plunge neck Fabric Lace Colour Ivory Customisation May have to close the extreme neckline for some brides RRP POA

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White Christmas We’re dreaming of a white (palette-perfection backdrop for beautiful bridal-boutique accessories) Christmas... Take inspiration from these gorgeous soft furnishings in white, slate and cream (plus colour-pop red and blue: we couldn’t resist!) 01










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CONFE TTI- FILLE D BAL LO O NS £3.49 for five






















SNOW FLAKE OUTDO O R L IGHT £24.95 D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 8 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ 79

but the law does give businesses the right to charge interest on late payments from other businesses at the Bank of England base rate plus 8% . So if base rate is 0.75%, the interest rate would be 8.75% . Be aware, too, that interest accrues on a daily basis. The rates for calculating interest are fixed for six-month periods. The base rate at 31 December is used for the period 1 Januar y to 30 June and the base rate at 30 June is used for the period 1 July to 31 December. Interest can be charged from when the payment is late and this will usually be clear from the contractual terms agreed. The maximum contractual term that can be agreed is 60 days. If there is no agreed credit period, the law sets a default period of 30 days. The 30 days runs from the date of deliver y of goods/service and the date the purchaser is notified of the debt (eg the date the invoice is sent). So, to answer your question: yes, it is acceptable for interest to be charged on late payments and the interest rate is as explained above. That said, however, it is not compulsor y to charge interest or debt recover y costs and a question any business should ask itself before charging interest to a customer is whether the amount involved is worth it, or whether, in fact, the damage that could be caused to the relationship with the customer actually outweighs any benefit the interest brings. It is worth noting that whilst the interest rate is quite high, the potential amount of interest involved may be small. For example, on a £1,000 debt that was settled six months late, the interest charge would be around £43 .75 based on the current Bank of England base rate of 0.75% . If the £1,000 was paid off in equal monthly instalments over the six months, the interest would only be in the region of £22. In my experience, businesses often take the view that it woud be better to sacrifice the interest in order to preserve the relationship with the customer but there are occasions – such as if debt recover y has required formal recover y action or court proceedings –where the interest is levied. A conversation with your supplier is called for.

Money Talks...


The right advice can save you money and possible problems with banks or the authorities, whether you are travelling abroad on business (or pleasure) or thinking of moving an asset from your shop to your home says Michael Cahill

If I were to buy a particular piece of furniture or a painting for my shop, but then decided it would look better at home, is that acceptable? Or do I need to buy my own piece from my own business? I am a sole trader. In this scenario you would need to buy the piece of furniture or painting from the business. If you are VAT registered, and have claimed the VAT back on the ‘purchase’ you will also need to account for VAT on the sale proceeds. One factor, however, which may require some thought is how long has the business owned the asset before you decide you would prefer it at home. The price you pay to acquire the asset from the business should equate to market value. If the business has owned the asset for a number of years, however, the market value at the point of disposal may be considerably less than when the business originally acquired the asset. A supplier of mine, aware that I was having cash-flow problems, said that I could pay what is owed over a six-month period with a suitable interest rate attached. Is that acceptable and if so, what should that interest rate be? I feel very uncomfortable about this simply because I don’t know what to expect. Ever y business has a statutor y right to be able to charge interest on late payments under The Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998. The Act does not apply to sales to consumers 80 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 8

I am starting to travel quite a bit, to various trade events in both Europe and the US. Am I better off buying euros or dollars here from my bank, or to take cash from an ATM machine on my UK debit card? Or is it more sensible to pay for any purchases – meals etc – on my credit card? Also, when you pay by card and you are asked if you want to be charged in local currency or GBPs – what is the most sensible? The answer to this question will depend very much on your own specific circumstances (eg what debit and credit cards you use, what their charges are and the rates in question at the time). For example, if you bought euros from your bank prior to departing and the pound subsequently strengthened, you may have been better off waiting and paying for the goods at the time of purchase due to the move in the currency rate. If spending on a credit card it would be worth shopping around and searching for a card that suits your needs – some do not charge on oversees spending but may, however, charge interest when withdrawing money at ATMs, whereas others may offer a no-fees service on cash withdrawals. It is generally accepted that if paying on card then paying in the local currency is better than paying in sterling. Do take note of the reading on the screen before signing – sometimes one misses out by not noticing the either/or situation.

If spending on a credit card it would be worth shopping around and searching for a card that suits your needs - some do not charge fees on overseas spending

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Sales Executive It is also worth remembering that if you pay for goods between £100 and £30,000 on a credit card abroad, the card firm is jointly liable with the vendor if anything goes wrong and this can be particularly useful if you encounter difficulty in the event that you need to return the goods purchased. Spending the wrong way can make your purchases far more expensive than they need to be and therefore I suggest that time spent reviewing your position would be time well spent! Email business finance questions to susi@ and they will be answered in the first available issue of Wedding Trader. To consult with Michael Cahill direct, email him at

Martha Cooke Mobile: 07877 449122

Editor Susi Rogol

Finally, it feels that the gap has been bridged and suppliers and retailers are all on the same page, working and talking together. Susi and the fabulous team have recognised this in abundance and created a monthly handbag explosion of fascinating insight, construction opinions, hints, tips and captivating reads. Truly inspirational! Jeanette Stevens, Managing Director, Enzoani Europe

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MOST VIEWED… BRIDAL DRESS NOVIA BY ENZOANI One of the most beautiful dresses from the 2019 Enzoani collection, it’s no real surprise that Novia has turned plenty of heads. Just look at the fit, and that incredible neckline!

Digital snapshot



WHAT YOUR BRI DES A R E SHOPPING FOR O N LI N E We look at what trends brides are searching for this month on MOST READ… BLOG FEATURE BLUSH WEDDING DRESSES Interestingly, there was a huge spike in traffic for this blog feature about blush wedding dresses. Whether general curiosity or if brides are starting to break tradition from ivory and white remains to be seen, but clearly there are a lot of stunning blush dresses out there, and interest to go with it!

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WHAT IS FIND YOUR DREAM DRESS? Brides-to-be can use this super-helpful website that allows them to filter various categories in order to find their dream dress in among FYDD’s database. Then, the site tells the brides where the nearest boutique is to them that stocks their dress of choice. If you’re a designer and you’d like to see your collection of gowns featured here, or if you’re a boutique owner who would love to have your business included in the search results, then visit to discover more. Alternatively, drop Martha an email at

MOST SEARCHEDFOR… DESIGNER ENZOANI The new 2019 collection has recently been uploaded onto the Find Your Dream Dress website, and has received a lot of attention from brides. A must-see for bridal retailers!

MOST SEARCHED-FOR… DRESS SHAPE BODY SKIMMING We keep talking about how brides are turning towards figurehugging styles more and more, and lightweight, body-skimming styles have been a real hit this month.

MOST VIEWED… PLUS-SIZE DRESS PHOENIX BY CALLISTA Celebrating curves, Callista is still one of the most sought-after plus-size designers on the website. And this cute tea-length design has been most popular this month.

MOST VIEWED… BRIDESMAID DRESS STYLE 1471 BY ALLURE BRIDALS Sequins were a really hot trend earlier this year, and it seems that they’re having a bit of a revival, if this bridesmaid traffic is anything to go by. A super-slinky, sumptuous gown from Allure Bridals.

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DREAM DRESS Use our handy tool to search through 1000’s of dresses online for all the bridal party, then click to find your nearest stockist!




BUYING AGE NDA Make a note of these key dates













23-25 March 2019

12-14 May 2019



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January issue • Challenges and opportunities – getting the New Year off to a flying start • The learning curve – how best to satisfy those plus-size brides • Occasionwear special... the latest event that keeps the guests well dressed. Don’t miss it! • The story behind the trends – where back detail is everything


• Taxing matters... the new money matters you need to know to safeuard the health and wealth of your business

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Classified From job vacancies to new closures or relocations, you’ll get the lowdown on opportunities and announcements here

LACY DAYS REOPENING After carrying out a refurbishment with the help of friends and family, Wendy Young reopened Lacy Days of Ramsbottom to the public on Saturday, October 6. We here at include administration and candidates Wedding Trader would like to wish N E WSFLASH Wendy all the best in her new venture, must be familiar with the usual and at the same time pass on our A R I A B R I DA L U K S H O R T L I S T E D Microsoft Office software; training on congratulations to previous owner FO R A S U S TA I N A B L E AC A D E M Y the CRM system will be given. Julie Walker, on her retirement. The role is full time. Days of work AWA R D are Tuesday to Saturday. We feel all proud and tingly that Aria Please note that because this role STORE CLOSURE Bridal UK has made it as a finalist in We were saddened to hear the news the Sustainable Business category in involves assisting brides in a state that Bows and Bells, a wedding of undress, Serena Bridal can only the new Sustainable Wales Awards. boutique in Dundee, Scotland, has This celebrates excellence, innovation accept applications from females. permanently closed. (The role is exempt from the Equality and leadership in the sustainability Act due to reasons of decency.) and green energy sectors. Please send your CV and a covering STOC K IST S E A R C H Helen O’Sullivan, owner of Aria letter telling Serena Bridal why you Bridal UK, will line up against fellow would be perfect for the job. finalists Natural Weigh and Jaspels LOVE OUR WEDDING E: Angelseys Craft Cider. The UK’s favourite free monthly T: 01268 762775 consumer magazine, Love Our Wedding, is looking for more VACANC I ES S PECIAL O CCAS ION S boutiques across the UK to stock its publicaton free of charge. These B R I DA L S H O P M A N AG E R handbag-sized magazines are perfect ( M AT E R N I T Y C OV E R ) NORA EVE BRIDAL BLOG S E R E N A B R I DA L , W I C K FO R D We’re super-excited to hear that Nora for you to gift to brides who come in store or for goody bags at special Serena Bridal is a gorgeous bridal Eve Bridal has announced they have events. To become a stockist now, boutique in Wickford, Essex. The launched a new blog. The staff told email current store manager is soon to go us that it’s going to feature fabulous on maternity leave, so a manager is “stories and photos from real brides We’ll send it in the same delivery required to step in and take over who found their dream dresses at as your copy of Wedding Trader! while she is away. Nora Eve, top tips for finding the This will be for a minimum of seven perfect wedding dress, and reviews WH AT A B OU T M E ? months (perhaps 13), or could even of some of our favourite wedding lead to a permanent role. businesses in the area”. Do you have news of your own that you The ideal candidate for this role will Hats off to you, ladies! We think want to share with the rest of the bridal have experience in bridal retail and this is a brilliant addition to your world? Just celebrated an anniversary experience in fitting and/or sewing website. At Wedding Trader, we’ve of your store opening? Have you closed would be extremely advantageous. been fortunate to chat to a wealth a store, or perhaps moved to bigger, The candidate must have of knowledgeable bloggers this shinier new premises? Maybe you’ve won exceptional communication and past year, so we know all about a snazzy award? This is the place to be customer-service skills and a proven the importance of bridal boutiques heard! Send us your news by emailing sales track record. The role will connecting with their target audience. D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 8 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ 89

“I was really impressed with the research you did about brides’ opinions. I think we retailers, because we know our job – and our stock – so well, can often tend to be a bit pushy simply because we know what is going to work for a particular bride, her body shape and her big-day theme. The thought that a customer might feel our approach is all wrong is actually of greater concern if that is her reason to choose to go elsewhere for the same dress.”


“The more you suggest about working with other suppliers – related ones like florists and photographers – the more food for thought. I got a local hairdresser and a freelance makeup artist in for an ‘open’ session and invited brides to attend. The atmosphere was great; the advice the experts gave was valuable, and the event sealed the deal for me with brides who were still making up their minds on the dress itself. So big thanks to WT!”

“I tend to read WT’s Your Problems Our Solutions feature first and in November it was particularly interesting to hear the quite mixed views on the same subject. I’ve never had a mob-handed bridal party descend on me and I shudder to think how I’d react!” “Following a bride in shopping mode around would not be my idea of bliss so hats off to Carrie for braving it, especially with a friend. Some of the comments in that article did make me wonder if we try too hard to be sales pros, and whether we should actually let a first-appointment bride roam the rails free after we have sorted the basics, like budgets, type of wedding etc. Do any other retailers feel the same way?”

...and finally What’s the word on the street? We’ve rounded up who’s been saying what, whether it’s about Wedding Trader or the industry in general

“I have always loved Nicky MacFarlane’s work – it epitomises ‘classics with a twist’. So I was really delighted to read about her latest venture in the November issue of Wedding Trader. She deserves every bit of success because she knows what she is doing and what she wants to achieve. I will always be a firm fan of hers.”

“It always amazes me to see what the latest in menswear brings and the newest collections are – well – different. But then I suppose brides’ tastes have changed too... who would have thought jumpsuits would hit the headlines as ontrend wedding wear? I’d just love to know what those grooms do with their bright blue tuxedos after the event!”

“Prints. I’ve never actually ventured there but I did like some of the dresses you featured – more the self-coloured ones rather than strong contrasts. I understand the value as a display piece or for bridesmaids, but do prints really sell to brides themselves?” D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 8 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ 90






DREAM DRESS Use our handy tool to search through 1000’s of dresses online for all the bridal party, then click to find your nearest stockist!


Profile for Love Our Wedding

Wedding Trader - issue 11  

Wedding Trader - issue 11