BRIDE leaving you
JULY/AUGUST 12 ISSUe 151 www.bRIdALbUYeR.com
Harrogate CheCk out the many hundreds of exhibitors whoâ€™ll see you in september
with the dress
BODY SHOP are your
* show *
REVIEWS white gallery modatex
mannequins too old for the job?
the tiers of a gown
* sottero & Midgley * Paradox * white rose * Menswear * business *
Visit Us BBEH | Harrogate LONDON | September| 9th-11th Hall Q - Stand Q1
Special thanks to everyone that visited us in London!
w w w. r o m a n t i c a o f d e v o n . c o . u k Style - Tierney
Romantica of Devon @romanticadevon
A L A N
H A N N A H
A N I TA
Please come and visit us on stand Q10 at or to become a stockist call us today on: M: 07540 306 001 T: 020 3620 9755 www.msmodauk.com email@example.com
Victoria Kay The Art of the Dress
Fantastic offers always available, Quality & Styles at competitive prices. With no minimum order. Please visit our web site to see our stunning new collection. For more information or to book an appointment please contact us on 01424 427284 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t make do with “It comes in a larger size”. Callista Bride. Designed for the fuller ﬁgure! Tel: 0 1 9 0 9 7 7 4 4 7 1 ukofﬁce@alfredsungbridals.com
For more information contact Michele Oâ€™Neill EMAIL: email@example.com CALL: 0845 838 1041 www.customsamples.com
www.benjaminroberts.co.uk benjamin roberts Limited, 6 europa way, FForestFach, swansea sa5 4aj teLephone 01792 564710 â€˘ inFo@benjaminroberts.co.uk
Tel: 0845 833 2525 路 www.ronaldjoyce.com 路 firstname.lastname@example.org
From the editor We’ve seen the start of the 2013 collections at the prestigious White Gallery London; we’re getting ready for the Big One, BBeh september, where more than 350 collections will be showcased in full for the first time; we’re putting the final touches into next year’s Bridal Buyer awards programme; and we’re constantly updating our website which is attracting an ever-increasing number of visitors keen to pick up on the latest industry gossip and newest trend stories. Phew! retailers are reporting lively business and suppliers are telling us that repeats are well above expectations. Of course it’s hard work in the current climate, but hard work pays off and delivering the right products and the best service is what makes a difference. Please take note of Bridal Buyer’s new editorial address, below; phone and email stay the same. Editor Susi Rogol 020 7193 8535 Editorial Ofßce 14 Bracknell Gate, London NW3 7EA email@example.com Design Kim Colley Proof Reader Clive Burton Group Ad Sales Manager Nardene Smith 020 7772 8317 nardene.smith@ oceanmedia.co.uk Production Gemma Isteed 020 7772 8396 Marketing Executive Carina Hunter 020 7772 8596 firstname.lastname@example.org Subscriptions Alliance 020 8955 7040 email@example.com Publishing & Marketing Director Judith Sutton 020 7772 8393 Head of Bridal Wendy Adams 01423 770120 Printers Printech Europe Bridal Buyer is published six times a year by Ocean Media Exhibitions Ltd, 1 Canada Square, 19th Floor, Canary Wharf, London E14 5AP. Tel 020 7772 8300 Fax 020 7772 8587. wwwbridalbuyer.com. Copyright ©2012 Ocean Media Exhibitions Limited. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any written material or illustration in any form for any purpose, other than short extracts for review purposes, is strictly forbidden. Neither Ocean Media Exhibitions Limited nor its agents accept liability for loss or damage to transparencies or any other material submitted for publication. The views expressed by interviewees in Bridal Buyer do not necessarily reßect those of the Editor or Ocean Media Group. The views expressed by interviewees in Bridal Buyer do not necessarily reßect those of the Editor or Ocean Media Group. BAck ISSuES If you would like to purchase back issues please call us on 020 8955 7040 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
reTail FOCuS Polly Parkin of The Bride talks business
COVer STOry THe CaSe OF THe diSappearing bride Expert advice on what is whose
OpiniOn Emma Meek of Miss Bush Bridal lets us have it
COVer STOry THe perFeCT FiT Sottero & Midgley could be all yours
bling iS in THe air What makes Paradox sparkle
OaKS FrOM aCOrnS The BBA on its many achievements
SHOp TalK The RBA on where it is going from here
COMing up rOSeS It’s good-looking, top-quality, and offers a bunch of the best. We love White Rose
ediTOr’S MeSSage Media supporters of the Bridal Buyer Awards tell it like it is
Head girl Hats off to HT Headwear,coming to BBEH
COVer STOry rOle MOdelS Display for dummies, or vice versa
10 yearS OF TexTile FOruM Material wealth _ year after year
COVer STOry ClOSe TO TierS Love is a many-layered thing
MajOr playerS The menswear names you need to know
COVer STOry MOdaTex reView Europe’s biggest show _ and the best yet
COVer STOry aT bbeH Exhibitors showing their 2013 collections
COVer STOry wHiTe gallery lOndOn 2012 It was simply gorgeous. Our fave Ķnds
On THe pHOne
yOu & yOur webSiTe
THe iT deparTMenT
baCK page girl
news donâ€™t miss...
Itâ€™s all happening... here
With a handful of great shows behind us, and BBEH â€“ the Big One â€“ coming up, itâ€™s a hectic time. New collections from key labels, and top-notch consumer shows, are in the news
Curvaceous Woman A new capsule collection from Eternity Bridal, Cara Mia, is designed speciÄścally for the fuller Äśgure. In sizes 14-34, every gown in the range features a lace-up back for easy alterations, and built-in boning to give support where it is needed. Contemporary styling, optional straps, Äśne beadwork in diamantĂŠ, pearl and crystal, and lace appliquĂŠs add to the appeal. The prices are equally attractive â€“ ÂŁ799 to ÂŁ1,000 retail, and there is no surcharge for plus-sizes. See it at Harrogate this September. +44 (0)8707 707670
In love with Annika
Dynasty introduced its new-look Annika label at Modatex and if its reception there is anything to go by, retailers will be racing to put down orders at Harrogate. This small, but perfectly-formed 15-piece collection of glamorous occasionwear in luxurious fabrics, inspired by the stylish1920s, includes dusty pinks, nude tones, icy blues and winter white and trimmings of beaded lace and embroidery. Most of the dresses have matching jackets, so they are perfect for MOBs and wedding guests alike. Retail prices range from ÂŁ349 to ÂŁ699. +44 (0) 20 8736 0200
The Luxury Wedding Show London 2012
Londonâ€™s premier consumer wedding event, The Luxury Wedding Show London, will take place at its new home, Somerset House, 20-21 October. Offering discerning brides-to-be an inspirational experience, the show boasts an array of hand-picked suppliers, beauty consultations, expert advice and glamorous fashion shows. Last yearâ€™s catwalk included Vivienne Westwood, Temperley, Vera Wang, David Fielden, Monique Lâ€™huillier, Peter Langner, Marchesa, Delphine Manivet, Carolina Herrera, Charlotte Casadejus and The State of Grace. For details and exhibiting information, contact Alex Butler on +44 (0)20 7772 8319
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LEY ERO & MIDG
Cover ima image. D Dressed to frill, multi-layers that fashion pundits say is The New Look, from Sottero & Midgley, a collection youâ€™ll be seeing much more of. Check out our choice of the latest tiered gowns on page 54, and read about the re-launch of the popular Sottero & Midgley label on page 34, and the collection that will debut at Harrogate in September
â€Ś to Sophie Marron, Brand Director for Diane Harbridge, who tied the knot with ÄśancĂŠ Jeff Baty at Inglewood Manor in Ledsham, Cheshire, a couple of months ago. The couple, who have been together since they were 19, went for a glamorous, theatrical look for their big day, with rich, deep colours, and feathers. wOw factor or what?
KEY 2013 SHOwS
British Bridal Exhibition
Harrogate, 10-12 March 2013 The smaller of the long-running and highly-successful Harrogate shows and, importantly, the Âźrst exhibition on the international bridal-buying calendar, BBEH March caters particularly to suppliers that offer two collections a year, and retailers who wish to purchase early and secure early deliveries. The March event claims in excess of 200 collections and 2,500 visitors; it is also where the Bridal Buyer Awards are staged.
White Gallery London
Battersea Park, 19-21 May 2013 Returning for the fourth year, White Gallery has Âźrmly established itself as the showcase for UK and international bridal designers. With steady growth in visitor numbers, White Gallery attracts the premium brands and top buyers in the elegant setting of Battersea Evolution.
The London Bridal Show
Olympia, 19-21 May 2013 Attracting 500 visitors to its experimental debut this year, the London Bridal Show provides a vibrant opportunity for top-name bridal manufacturers to showcase their collections for the following year at the earliest possible date. Due to demand, the 2013 edition will relocate to Olympia, where 20-30 key labels will be accommodated.
British Bridal B Exhibition E Harrogate, 8-10 September The largest UK bridal trade exhibition â€“ coming up for its 30th successful year â€“ takes over Harrogate for 2013, with six halls and Âźve hotels, where more than 350 collections are showcased. With collections at all price points, from mass-market to designer, BBEH pulls in over 3,500 visitors.. The September show has an enviable pedigree and delivers the right product to the wide audience. For exhibiting info contact Wendy Adams on +44 (0)1423 770120
Mark Lesley www.marklesley.co.uk
Best Bridal Manufacturer
Mark Lesley and Donna Salado Showcasing Their New Collections Mark Lesley Hall Q Stand Q7 | Donna Salado Hall Q Stand Q7A British Bridal Exhibition Harrogate - 9th â€“ 11th September 2012 Stockist Enquiries Tel: +44 (0) 1621 784784 | Email: email@example.com
news don’t miss...
Getting the word p out about YOUR shop
he long-running lon national Wedding Show programme – two shows in Birmingham’s neC and two in earls Court/olympia each year – has a reputation among brides-to-be for delivering the widest possible range of big-day products and service providers, and among retailers for offering huge audiences looking to fulfill their dream. the show atmosphere is magical; it is here that a bride – and her groom, her bridesmaids, her mum, her friends – can see everything that the bridal industry has to offer – from handmade stationery to sparkling table decorations, dreamy wedding cakes to fabulous flowers, wedding list providers to entertainers, photographers, venues and even honeymoons. But let’s be honest, a bride-to-be has a number one priority – and that is finding the perfect dress, the best accessories, and the shop that will treat her like a princess. that’s where you come in. and where you have the opportunity to fill your appointment book for the weeks, and possibly months, ahead. Some retailers who exhibit at the national Wedding Shows bring a selection of gowns from their best suppliers; others work with one or two of their favourite labels and show a big selection from their new collections; some bring stock that they are holding. to respond to the different needs of the market, event Director alejandra Campos has produced some dazzling new show features. of particular interest to retailers and suppliers is that, for the first time, there will be three separate bridal fashion areas – the Bridal Zone, the Boutique area and the Design area – a scheme developed to provide a focused platform for every level of exhibitor to showcase their portfolio to the right visitor in the right environment. So whether a bride is looking to spend top dollar on her gown, or in search of a wonderful dress that represents real value for money, she’ll be able to find the biggest and best choice in a dedicated arena, where ample changing rooms and viewing areas are provided at no cost to exhibitors. Suppliers, fast to recognise the value of supporting their stockists, are keen to be involved. at the autumn neC show, for example, Justin alexander’s tony Mentel, will be talking to brides-to-be on the stand of returning exhibitor Prudence gowns, and helping them make the right gown choice. award-winning retailer, ellie Sanderson, who features Designer Days on her stand and has featured both alan hannah and Sassi holford at previous shows, was stunned by
Retailers do a roaring business at the National Wedding Shows, where they can meet thousands of brides-to-be who are looking for their dream dress
the response at the spring national Wedding Show, selling four gowns within an hour of the doors opening. and regular Margot raybould reported the best-ever sales, with brides spending big money (up to £3,600) and demanding exclusive labels. Prestigious shops like White Mischief, Silk and Confetti & lace also delight in the healthy weight of orders that are generated at the show. the designers stocked by exhibiting retailers, including David Fielden, ian Stuart and Jenny Packham and world-famous brands such as alfred Sung and Benjamin roberts, take to the stage in the shows’ famous catwalk performances, and it is here where many a
member of the audience spots ‘the one’, and heads straight to the relevant retailer’s stand when the applause dies down. From a bride’s standpoint, the national Wedding Show is a breathtaking adventure – where else can one see so much, that is so pertinent, all in one place at one time? local shows certainly have their strengths, but of course there is no comparison between a 15- or 20- exhibitor show in a close-to-home hotel, and the dazzling offering that is the national Wedding Show with its 250-plus specialist names. the forthcoming shows (28-30 September in earls Court, 5-7 october neC) promise to be the best ever. You should be there! BB
The National Wedding Show audience – it’s the one that you want
of visitors are between their Big Day have their * 70% 25 and 34 bridesmaids in tow Show visitors include Ķancés, are looking at an * friends and family, but a * Couples average wedding spend of whacking 6,000 are bridesto-be 77% of them will be tying the knot in the next 7-18 months, 63% of them planning to marry in a venue, rather than a church 50% of girls shopping for
£16,000 – and they want real choice before making any buying decisions 88% of National Wedding Show brides-to-be are ABC1; they are their Ķancé have an average joint income of £58,000.
IFor more information about exhibiting opportunities contact Alejandra Campos +44 (0)20 7772 8406 or Alex Butler +44 (0) 20 7772 8319
Mark Lesley www.marklesley.co.uk
Best Bridal Manufacturer
Mark Lesley and Donna Salado Showcasing Their New Collections Mark Lesley Hall Q Stand Q7 | Donna Salado Hall Q Stand Q7A British Bridal Exhibition Harrogate - 9th â€“ 11th September 2012 Stockist Enquiries Tel: +44 (0) 1621 784784 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
news don’t miss...
Show report: Modatex, Essen the eighth edition of Modatex, the largest and most important bridal industry show in northern europe, pulled in a vast audience – close to 3,485 unique visitors over the four-day event
espite challenging times, buyers arrived at Messe essen in an optimistic mood, keen to support their existing suppliers, and seeking out the new, young labels that regard this show as a launch pad. Modatex, with more than 450 collections, is where the big, international labels do most of their european business for the year ahead, and where ordering stock, rather than samples, is commonplace. said larry Warshaw of sincerity: “We had more visitors and wrote more business than last year. We opened 40 new accounts which is significant based on our alreadyhealthy customer base.” Violetta Bryl-Malinowski and andrzej Malinowski, owners of Mode de pol, were equally delighted: “We had an above-average rate of visitors… Modatex is a perfect platform for
Modatex was a dream show. The right products. A range of price points. Terrific atmosphere. And full order books. Here’s to 2013
the bridal industry”. Uli Wendel of Kleemeier, agreed: “it was a really great show for us. Our collection was very successful and we took on new clients”. so, lots of big orders, lots of very happy exhibitors, but what were the best finds, as far as retailers were concerned? here are some of Bridal Buyer’s favourite things. at Gaia Accessories, ‘ringlets’ of tulle falling to frame the face; at Sky is No Limit, which consistently produces fabulous, off-thewall jewellery pieces, a pleated stiffened tulle stand-up collar that tied with narrow silk ribbon, and ‘skull’ design cameos for earrings and pendants; keyhole and illusion backs at Sincerity, who staged twice-daily catwalk shows that included a sequence with dancing models twirling heart-shaped white brollies. Javier Arnaiz on stage – suits with sheen and shoes with shine… and the return of Kimo Suits, relaxed, cool, pale and chic. elegance for the men at Sabato Russo, the
italian master that cuts immaculately and tailors with precision; diagonal self stripes on men’s shirting at M Fatima Silva. Deep, dark velvety colours for occasionwear at Nixa Designs, and colours of every shade in the sensational Luxuar collection; turkish label, Madam Burcu, whose stand was gold, inside and out, and whose big-skirted, elaborate ball-gowns included one with a pearl-encrusted bodice; Drap’s natty bags, covered in glittery stones with cell-phone holders to match. Brilliant beadwork was much in evidence at Mode Exclusive Mehra who showed jackets that positively sparkled. Emmerling’s stand had an eager audience queueing up to see its two stunning new bridalwear collections, inlove and Rosalie; and Weise, a seriously big player, showed wonderfully flattering silhouettes as well as gorgeous prints for occasionwear. spanish designer labels, among them Miquel Suay, Novia d’Art, Raimon Bundo, veil-makers Figueras Monsel and shoe company Menbur, brought with them the looks that will set future trends, including slim, softly-structured gowns that featured clever fold-work and pleating, or a top layer of boho detail. novia d’art’s single-panel lace
train won our applause. Unsurprisingly, lace continues to gather momentum. it was at its best in a dazzle of colours at Olvi’s Trend in her signature stretch pieces; girlie and gorgeous at Ladybird, where long and short dresses showed 50s influences; in the palest lavender at Atelier Aimee, and in wild, wonderful shadings teamed with contrast coloured taffeta at Velvet Moon. a very favourite piece in this great-looking occasionwear collection was a loose chiffon short shift with a collar made of pearls. Aspera from sweden picked lace for a gorgeous selection of gowns but the best here was a ballgown with a skirt of diagonally set bands of ruffled ribbon. halter necks, as always a number-one choice in northern europe, were seen this time round in contrast-colours, ivory or white with dusty pink, champagne, grey at Creations of Leiijten, dressed with a corsage of flowers at Brinkman, with stand-up collars at Lohrengel and Linea Raffaelli. it was a dream show. the right products. a range of price points. a terrific atmosphere. and full order books. here’s to 2013. MODateX Fashion Fair 2013 15-18 June 2013; Messe essen, germany. www.bridalbuyer.com
he Bride really does seem to have it all. a beautiful Grade ii listed building in the heart of upmarket st albans, opposite the cathedral. a dedicated team of eight part-time staff who are all mums ready and willing to help each other out. Four collections from top British designers, three of which have been on board since the shop’s launch eight years ago. Back-toback appointments at weekends and plenty of footfall during the week. and bubbly, personable, entrepreneurial Polly at the helm.
submitting an application for a prestigious Bridal Buyer award takes a certain level of self belief. Winning it proves that you have every right to that confidence. the next challenge is to maintain the high standards that got you there in the first place. Polly Parkin at the Bride in st albans is not fazed as Dawn Walters discovers
Winner takes all P o l ly on …
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
“St Albans town centre is ideal for an upmarket bridal shop. It so happened that my husband had bought a dilapidated Grade II listed building opposite the cathedral – it really couldn’t be more appropriate for a bridal shop. It is a beautiful old building with beams, lovely windows and bags of character. It was really run down and we embarked on an 18-month restoration project.” 20
P o l ly on …
THE RIGHT BACKGROUND
“After studying History of Art and Design at Brighton University I landed a job at Next as a trainee buyer in the home department. I then moved to London as an assistant buyer for menswear at Debenhams. I decided to return to Next when a junior buyer position came up, and by the time I was 26 I had been made a buyer on bedlinen and furnishings. I continued working as a retail buyer until I had my children (a son and a daughter, now aged 11 and 9). After a short career break, I started to get itchy feet, and with so many years’ experience in buying behind me, it seemed a natural move to open my own shop.”
P o l ly on …
“at the Bride we carry the best of British. right from the start i have stocked sassi holford, stephanie allin and suzanne Neville, and we have carried Jenny Packham for a couple of years now. each of these designers has their own unique handwriting, and together as a collection i feel we have all the looks covered – there is genuinely something for every bride in the market for a designer dress. suzanne is the master of corsetry – you instantly drop a dress size when you step into one of her gowns. her pattern cutting and her finish are amazing. sassi does the english rose look like no-one else – soft and romantic, just perfect for a country wedding. stephanie is boho-chic at its best – she uses beautiful laces and trimmings to create exquisite, eclectic one-offs. Jenny is a different thing altogether – exquisite beading, stones, amazing floaty silks and bias-cut gowns. i am so lucky to have them all. since winning the award i have been contacted by lots of designers who want to be in my shop, but right now i’m sticking with what i know works for us. We also carry accessories by British designers – tiaras by Polly edwards and Jenny Packham, shoes by rainbow and veils by Joyce Jackson.”
P o l ly on …
“I’d felt for a while that in my home town St Albans there was a big gap in the market for a bridal shop that sold the same calibre of dresses as one would find in the West End. The clientele was definitely there – it just needed someone to provide the service! Although I had no experience in that specific field, I had worked in retail and I had buying experience.” P o l ly on …
P o l ly on …
WHAT’S IN A NAME
“Choosing a name for my shop was really simple. it’s not about me, so i didn’t want my name on the door. i didn’t want anything fancy or clever. the shop is about the bride, so that’s what i called it!”
CHICKEN AND EGG – WHICH CAME FIRST?
“There was no point in opening without the backing of some top labels, and there was equally no point in securing stock with no shop to sell it in. I really had to put my buying experience to the test here. I earmarked four labels I wanted to carry and then did a really good sales pitch to each of them. Despite my lack of experience in bridal, I think that being in St Albans aҬorded The Bride some status, plus my own background in buying gave the designers I approached some conºdence that I knew what I was doing. All four of them signed up! We opened on a Saturday in 2004 with a full appointment book and even made a sale on our ºrst day. We hadn’t even taken the credit card machine out of its box!”
P o l ly on …
“I’m an avid Vogue reader – I couldn’t imagine being without it! I love fashion and I always keep up with new trends. I think it’s vital to be fully informed when you are selling to trendy young brides. I’m a huge Topshop fan – I follow the ‘What’s New’ section of the website and mix it up with Whistles, Zara and other high street labels. I think it’s really important for all my team to have a genuine interest in fashion, and to have their own sense of style. Customers are buying into you as much as into what you’re selling, and they need to feel that they are in good hands when they are being styled for the most important day in their lives! We have a very stylish sales team at The Bride, and everyone is equally interested in keeping abreast of > new trends and staying current.” www.bridalbuyer.com
RETAIL FOCUS P o l ly on …
“One month before we opened I had put beautiful posters up in our windows with the opening date and phone number for appointments. We started to book up the diary very fast and were able to hit the ground running as soon as the shop opened. Eight years on we have a really good relationship with the local paper, and in an area like this that is very helpful. It is good for them to support the independent retailers – it works both ways. Our website is a very important marketing tool – we keep it fresh, update it regularly, and we always suggest to brides that they spend some time on there before they come into the shop – perhaps narrowing down their dress choice from what they can see on the site, as there isn’t time to try on everything when they come in! Facebook is another great tool – it is a lovely way of communicating with our customers in a less formal way than the website. We run a designer day for each of our designers once a year. This is all about the experience - we do the whole Champagne and cupcakes thing and make it a really special day for the brides. It’s a great opportunity for them to meet the person who actually designed their dress, to discuss it with her and maybe even to be measured up by her. My years working for large companies like Next taught me a lot about corporate image and I have employed a lot of what I learned there in my business. I believe it is important to build up a brand image so I have been careful to use the same colours, logos etc across my website, business cards, in store and so on. It’s all about building a strong brand image.”
P o l ly on …
WINNING AN AWARD
“Winning the Best Bridal Retailer South Award was a lovely reward for eight years’ hard work. We never take our eye off the ball. We pay attention to detail in every aspect of the business, making sure our service level is second to none. We have kept our heads down and focused more on customer service than self-promotion. But we felt maybe it was time to get out there and to let others in the trade know what we are about, and to see if we could get some recognition for it…. so I decided to enter. It was a really wonderful surprise when we won!” 22
P o l ly on …
P o l ly on …
“My short-term, mediumterm and long-term plans are all the same – to maintain The Bride’s position as the premiere destination in Hertfordshire to buy high-end bridalwear in a boutique environment.”
WHAT TO BUY
“My background is in buying so I really do have the right tools for this part of the job. When I go to shows I will most probably fall in love with everything I see, especially from my own designers because I admire their work so much. But I only buy what I believe we can sell; we look at the fabric, the fit and the price bands to make sure we pick the most commercial gowns from the collections– we are looking for the potential best sellers. We know our client base well after eight years and on the whole we get it right. I always take the team with me when I’m buying – these are big decisions to make on your own and it’s really good to have input – after all, we will all be selling the dresses.”
The case of the
ou try telephonIng, emailing, writing… but there’s no response. you hope that the bride will re-appear to collect her property. But what if she doesn’t? “It’s an ever-present problem,” says leslie hatcher of the eponymous bridal shop in Swindon, Wiltshire, who has been in the bridal business for 30 years. “I have some uncollected dresses upstairs in my shop now - and it’s extremely frustrating. Customers don’t respond when we try to contact them and it isn’t unknown for them to return years later and demand their money back. We have been taken to court in the past and there seems to be no defence, in law, so the retailer just can’t win!”
THe reTailer’S eXPerieNCe
“It is an unclear area,” agrees Alison Sargeant of Aurora Bride in Cheam, Surrey. “It seems that cancelled weddings and uncollected dresses have definitely increased. We only had two in 2011 and we’ve had five so far this year! “occasionally brides refuse to pay the remaining balance on their dress and then you have to decide whether it’s worth your time and effort to chase them through the Small Claims Court. even then they may only be ordered to pay you £5 a month. our rule of thumb is that after the ‘intended wear’ date they go into our sample sale. Should they come back to pay the balance after that, we’re covered by our terms and conditions.” the problems faced by retailers are practical as well as legal. Most bridalwear premises are fairly small, with limited space – certainly not enough for gowns that are being ‘stored’. no dress is going to look its best after it has been in a back room for years. Bridal Buyer heard of one shop where a dress had been kept for eight years and another where a dozen uncollected dresses were stored in the basement! Bruce roberts, whose shop “Collections by Bruce roberts” is in Kelso in the Scottish 24
It might sound like an Agatha Christie mystery, but it’s a situation that has become sadly familiar. A dress is chosen, ordered, fitted, in some cases fully paid-for... but never collected. Where do you stand? Jill Eckersley investigates
Borders, has a straightforward approach to the problem. “I have a ‘Conditions of Sale’ form which brides read and sign in my presence,” he explains. “there are a couple of important clauses. one asks for a 50% deposit to secure an order, which is non-refundable if the customer’s plans change. then, I know that I have covered my own costs, no matter what happens. the other states that if the goods are not collected within two months of the agreed date of collection – normally the wedding day – all monies are forfeited and the dress then joins my stock for re-sale.” like the other retailers we spoke to, Bruce says he isn’t 100% sure of his legal position. “I am careful to keep copies of letters and emails,” he says. “I send letters recorded delivery so they have to be signed for. A couple of times brides have paid a deposit and then I’ve never heard from them again. I tried to contact them and hung on to the dresses for about a year, then put them back on sale. “I have little storage at my shop, though, so I have to charge a storage fee if a bride wants me to store a dress ordered a year in advance.”
OuT OF SPaCe
WHaT THe eXPerTS Say
Joe Sweeney, Chair of the BBA, which represents suppliers, says that the current economic climate has made the problem worse. “the legal position depends totally on the Conditions of Sale on the order form that the bride has signed. these must be watertight but regrettably, many bridal shops don’t even have printed order forms. If a bride re-appears wanting the dress and she has already paid at least 50% of the total, without a proper order form, the shop is at fault. If the shop has sold the gown and the case comes to court, the judge will always come down on the side of the bride. “to avoid all these complications shops should be members of a bona fide trade association such as the retail Bridalwear Association and use their recommended Conditions of Sale on the order forms. the shop must refer on their order forms to the Sale of goods Act 1979.” the rBA Chair laura Daly, a retailer herself, adds that if a dress is fully paid-for, it is the customer’s property. “If she does not collect, you have three options,” she says. “one, to write requesting that the dress be collected and enclosing an invoice for storage/insurance/admin costs if it is not. “two, to ship the dress to the bride by post or courier. you will have to pay the cost which you are not likely to recover and if the girl has moved house the dress may be returned anyway. “or, thirdly, to send a recorded-delivery letter to her last known address requesting the removal of the dress within 30 days. If not collected within that time, the shop reserves the right to dispose of the dress as they see fit, to recover their storage/insurance/admin costs. ”If there is no response and post is returned marked ‘gone away’ you have reasonable grounds for claiming that the customer has abandoned the dress and you are free to sell it to recover your costs. Keep any correspondence and a note of your attempts to contact the customer, just in case! the Small Claims Court appears to treat each case on its merits.” Jane Watson of the Bridal retailers’ network, a consultancy service which offers a 24/7 helpline, also points out that it’s vital to have appropriate, and regularly updated, terms and conditions. “If a dress has been paid for in full but not collected, first try every form of contact >
Cancelled weddings and uncollected dresses have definitely increased. We only had two in 2011 but we’ve had five so far this year
“I only have a tiny box room with one rail so I can’t store a lot of uncollected dresses,” agrees Vicky rogan from Bridal Designs in Doncaster. “It is definitely happening more often. Customers either don’t return phone calls, or they tell me they’ll come and collect the dress and don’t turn up. “In my terms and conditions it states that we’ll notify them when the dress is ready, then they should come in and pay the balance within two weeks. What do I do if they don’t? If the bride has paid for a dress made for her and she no longer wants it, am I obliged to return her money? I just don’t know.” “I prefer to let them have their money back rather than have all the grief,” admits lorraine from emma roy of edinburgh. “I’m storing five dresses at the moment with unresolved issues. “one bride appeared for her dress five years later! All my letters were returned ‘not signed for’. When she tried the dress on it was too small – you can put on weight in five years – but she claimed I had ordered the wrong size. In my terms and conditions it says I will hold a dress for six months. I thought I was covered by that but apparently not.”
HelP line – email, phone and letter. If there’s no reply: Send a recorded-delivery letter for proof of posting and notification. Inform the bride that the dress is now her property and ask her to collect it within 28 days, giving her full details of where and how she can collect it. Ask her to tell you what she wants you to do with the dress if it’s no longer required. If there is no reply within 28 days tell her that the dress will be disposed of at your discretion. Jane says she wouldn’t, personally, dispose of a dress until after the wedding date. If a deposit has been paid, send a recordeddelivery letter informing the bride that the dress is ready for collection and the balance outstanding is due within 28 days.
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If there is no response, send a second *recorded-delivery letter telling her she is in breach of her contract and if the balance is not paid within 14 days Court action will be taken or the dress sold to cover your costs. your local trading Standards office is a good source of advice if you are unsure about your rights as a retailer.
perhaps the last word on this issue should go to Alison Sargeant of Aurora Bride who says this: “In this industry we frequently have to bite our tongues, because not only is the customer always right but she is also a bride. this is a massive experience and a stressful time for her and it’s important to remember she may be acting totally out of character!” BB
Contacts Bridal Retailers Network www.bridalbusiness.co.uk British Bridalwear Association www.britishbridalwearassociation.org.uk British Bridal Retailers Association www.britishbridalretailersassociation.co.uk Retail Bridalwear Association www.rbaltd.org.uk Salehs LLP www.salehs.co.uk
The legal view We sought advice from Salehs LLP, Ocean Media’s legal advisers. Lisa Rivers came back with this overview: If tHe teRms And COndItIOns of sale do not provide what happens if the buyer fails to collect an item, the common law position will apply. In general, this will mean that the item belongs to the buyer if it has been paid for in full. the position is unclear where the buyer has only paid a deposit, as legal ownership has not transferred. However, where there are no terms and conditions in place setting out what should happen where a deposit is paid and the buyer fails to collect, it would seem prudent to assume that the buyer has virtually the same rights to the item, assuming of course, they pay the remaining balance. The general position is that you may sell the item if it remains uncollected as long as the buyer is responsible for collecting the item. this means that the item cannot be sold if it is the seller’s responsibility to return it. Any money received from the sale, less reasonable storage charges or any other reasonable costs, such as agreed alterations, etc, must be returned to the original owner, or if that is not possible, kept on account for them. If only a deposit has been paid, then the deposit should be returned to them on sale of the item. the owner only loses the right to the money after six years. You must also follow the correct procedure: 26
Take reasonable steps to trace the buyer, if they or their whereabouts are unknown. This will depend on the circumstances, but might include placing advertisements in local newspapers, notices on local community notice boards or reasonable research enquiries over the internet.
If you take reasonable steps to trace the owner but are unsuccessful, you can sell the goods. It would be sensible to keep a record of the attempts you have made.
If you do trace the original owner, you must send two written notices to the owner before you sell the dress. You must give the owner of the goods, a Ķrst written notice personally or by post stating: that the owner is responsible for collecting the goods the details of the goods and where they are your name and address how much money is owed, if any, for the goods when the notice is sent, for example, the cost of the repair or reasonable storage charges. You must also send the owner of the goods, by recorded delivery or registered post, a second written notice stating: you intend to sell the goods if they are not collected by a date
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given in the notice the details of the goods and where they are your name and address how much money is owed, if any, for the goods, when the notice is sent. If the owner of the goods owes you money, the period between the second notice and the sale of the goods must be at least three months. If the owner does not collect the goods by the date given in the notice, and you are sure that the goods belong to the person who has been sent the notices, then you may: keep the goods sell the goods dispose of the goods. If the goods are sold they will then legally belong to the person who has bought them. If you are the person selling the goods, you must be able to show the original owner that the sale was handled properly to get a fair price for the goods. Apart from the expenses of selling the goods, for example, storage charges or auction fees, the original owner must be given the money from the sale if their address is known. If the goods had been left for repair or alterations and were then not collected, the cost of the work can also be deducted. Reasonable storage charges can also be deducted. If not, the money must be kept for the original owner. However, after six years the owner cannot
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claim, or sue, for the money. An important point to consider is that judgments in the small claims court, where claims in relation to the above are usually held, can vary immensely in their outcome. It is therefore not sensible to rely on Small Claims Court judgments as precedents for what might happen in any subsequent case. Often, the judge will favour the consumer. It is therefore ideal to have watertight conditions in place that describe the position between the parties in the event that the buyer fails to collect the item and to ensure that the buyer understands the terms when signing the terms and conditions. There is a risk however that even with such conditions, the Court will rule in favour of the buyer if it believes that the condition is ‘unfair’. It is therefore important to have your terms and conditions regularly reviewed by your solicitor and to seek legal advice in relation to any individual circumstances.
tHe ABOVe Is PROVIded As GeneRAL GUIdAnCe OnLY And sHOULd nOt Be InteRPReted As LeGAL AdVICe OR ReLIed UPOn. IndePendent LeGAL AdVICe sHOULd Be sOUGHt In ReLAtIOn tO AnY PARtICULAR CIRCUmstAnCes. Please note that the above guidance relates to england only
www.morilee.co.uk 路 email: email@example.com Style 1868
Rant… or reasoned argument?
Emma Meek, of miss bush bridal, has never shied away from voicing her views. our request for a sWoT analysis of the market has, she says, possibly been one of the most enlightening, disheartening, encouraging and worrying tasks she has ever had to tackle
uring her commission by the government to review the future of britain’s high streets, the mighty mary Portas directed passionate and unequivocal advice at retailers which is a good starting point for our exploration of bridalwear: “of greatest concern to me are the thousands of businesses in britain who once managed to make a living out of retail but in recent years have simply failed to adapt. hard-working, committed and professional people, frequently real experts in their fields, who haven’t adapted their retail offer to meet the increasingly demanding expectations of today’s consumer.” i am, through my family business miss bush, almost Jurassic in bridalwear. This failure to adapt would have killed off miss bush – my mother, gen – a virtual Victorian who believes in paying everything she owes, being loyal to suppliers, committed to customers and presumed that my time developing a social media marketing and Pr profile was tantamount to loafing. gen is one of the ‘hard working experts’ that i myself have to battle with in our own company, for the sake of its future. The new bridalwear retailers hitting the scene have no Victorian values to battle; the fabulous social media presence from newcomers like chloe curry from The White room in sheffield show an incredible empathy with the buying bride; the marvellous glamour oozing from ellie sanderson and carina baverstock’s marketing and Pr is as effective and seductive as a well-made martini. The glaring absurdity that follows is that these young guns, with a wealth of talent and verve, are prevented from ‘joining in’ with trade associations – the rbA and bbrA – that need them more than they know and present a public face via their websites that would have any 15year-old web designer cringing. none of my customers have ever heard of, or mentioned, either of the two trade associations’ websites which, anyway, are full of negative
messages: beware the internet, beware financial failure. but those same customers of mine do know an awful lot about wedding blogs, which are full of love, rock and dreams. it is not hard to figure out why the blogs attract individual audiences of 17,000 visitors a day, whilst the associations languish way down there in search engine rankings – so far down, in fact, they are completely missable.
Wedding), pillory (Don’t Tell The bride) and pity (The Fixer). We are rinsed on review centre and accused of profiteering. We are subject to the most demanding criteria for our shops and hatcheted for not providing tea and underwear for our clients. yet we expect this and we should, and do, overcome. referring to the divine madame Portas again, the advice to retailers spells out what we know to be true: “surviving in today’s valueminded, aggressively-discounted, conveniencefocused market means re-appraising how to compete and doing things differently. We know how this is to be done – through experience, service and specialism.” experience The retail experience has to be seductive and keep customers entranced. Lorraine candy, editor of elle, writing in The observer on the survival of the high streets emphatically stresses that, “it’s about being that place that everyone wants to be; you need to create that lust.” The economist tells us that for shops to compete with online retail, we must “focus on… expensive clothes and gadgets, that customers will want to try before they buy” and that they will happily pay for “advice from competent sales assistants.” service The meaning of service in the 21st century is “really knowing and caring for your customers… having an in-depth knowledge that guides and advises them; serving is quite simply the new selling.” For the modern bride, this encompasses being her own personal shopper, stylist, counsellor, best friend, mother and, occasionally, bank manager. specialism This is what we know and do. Whether this is displayed for the customer to see in the way that “specialist retailers know how to express and manifest their expertise across everything they do,” not just their products, but the parts that they don’t see: the correcting, chasing, fretting, checking, steaming, checking, packing, checking… “if you put the customer first,” says Portas, “compete on a higher playing field and bring something genuinely different to our high
ported six “The area that sup bridal shops in 1988, whena now shows , ed en p o sh u B s is M near 800% increase in retailers”
The reTailer posiTion
As an industry however, and i include us all in that, anyone who takes money in the name of a wedding knows that the vintage/rock star/ romantic dreamers are not working the coal face of bridal. The miners of bridal are the retailers. We cannot run wedding dress shops from our bedrooms. We cannot make a living from a server, a geek and a bad attitude. We are held up to parody (big Fat gypsy
STRONG opinion streets, then the customer will come and find you.” so we have the service, the expertise, the commitment and the specialism. All we need is to brush up our iT skills, hang out with the cool kids and the future is looking bright. get your customer-focused service tight, back up with reasonable products and tell the world via social media how fab you are!
sWoT analysis done. or is iT?
is this why bridal shops mushroom like verrucas on a damp foot? in my quest for facts to back up my now signature rants, i did a head count of shops within my 15-mile exclusion zone. in the verbal contracts and agreements we have with our suppliers, the Victorian honour by which my mother is bound would have me believe that our suppliers respected the 15-mile radius or countywide exclusivity. get a map and ruler out, however, and it’s a different story. A reasonably accurate sweep of a ruler round a google map shows miss bush to have 45 competitor shops within the blast zone. Add a mile or two to that and you hit all the sW postcodes. A geographic area that supported six bridal shops in 1988 when miss bush opened now shows a near 800 per cent increase in retailers. in the same period of time, the amount of marriages taking place in the uK has dropped by a third from 340,000 per annum to around 240,000. This is a market in sharp decline. except of course this isn’t the whole story. All the time i have believed that the purpose of the vast quantity of polyester pushers on the street corners had something to do with the end user: the bride. it does not. it has a lot to do with a romantic notion that running a bridal shop ‘must be a lovely job’ – a phrase i hear a lot. The market for the vast slew of indifferent, generic polyester has everything to do with selling dreams to wide-eyed retailers who, again to quote my flame haired guru, fail to realise that “running a profitable retail business is a commitment which goes far beyond the fun of the buy and the thrill of the sale.” As i stood despairing and disheartened at such a street corner in march, i rashly, brazenly declared that most of the dresses on offer were fit for landfill. cynically designed with as little originality as possible, the vast indistinguishable herds of dresses exist to allow manufacturers to renege on their own agreements.
suppliers, Take noTe
Labels, sub labels, fake designer names, diffusions, alternatives – it pretty much amounts to the same threat: buy your minimum or we put a shop on your doorstep, followed by buy your minimum and our second label or we put a shop on your doorstep. eventually
you’ll hear the same excuse: well, 15 miles is different in different parts of the country. in a saturated market where the number of weddings is declining fast the only option manufacturers and designers have is to grab more market share. no extra brides but plenty more shops. All the while the trade associations and trade press worry about the rise in home traders and internet sales, the bigger threat to your and my financial security is from the companies that purport to serve us. From my bitter experience in the last couple of years, the mismanagement of the supply chain from china has had a huge impact on my business. one particular factory from a behemoth of a company ran so late that i was quoted 26 weeks on delivery for repeat dress orders, effectively rendering my stock worthless as it is sold as a ‘sample’ from which to take orders. A breech of all kinds of ethical codes, if not several legal ones, what measures did this company take to address the problems that cost me about 50 repeat orders? Did they immediately switch production? no, they put more sample orders through the same factory. All the time whilst i couldn’t take orders on stock i had, they had my september order in work. During the ensuing wrangle about whether i was obliged to take further delivery of redundant stock, more and more unnecessary samples were forcing their way through the choked supply chain. Did this company step in to offer me replacement stock? Alternative samples? no, of course not. A trading history that has paid them £5k - £10k a month for the past ten years or more was entirely overlooked.
This level of ineptitude is not restricted to the mass-market labels. Prestige labels have suffered severe slumps in quality, escalating prices, ridiculous delays in sample orders with the same Teflon coated excuses – ‘it’s not us, it’s the factories’. There is absolutely no way i could stand in my shop and blame a manufacturer; the buck stops with me, the client’s contract is with me. The Pr machines that serve the rest of the world are missing from the world of bridalwear. bad news is furtively spread. it is an outrage that critical bad news can be sent out as a mailing without any supportive Pr in the press or social
media. This shows poor support for retailers on the frontline who have to explain away the massive change in order times, quality or price without any real reasons or proof. i and several other retailers have had to use our blogs or databases to alert brides to discontinuation lists and sweeping changes in deliveries. This is incredibly damaging to a brand’s image and there should be a professional Pr company repairing and limiting the damage. All suppliers bar a few, namely suzanne neville, Jesus Peiro and JLm europe, have displayed arrogance bordering on despotism. so one of the greatest threats to retail bridal hides in the apparent bonhomie of the biggest suppliers, and the greatest weakness we have as buyers is a lack of effective power through which to make our concerns heard. There is a huge opportunity for the creation of a unified voice speaking on behalf of retailers in response to the inferred threats of suppliers.
There is certainly a sophistication in the mass-produced garment that wasn’t available 18 years ago. The cut and corsetry can be fantastic but, increasingly, the quality is slipping and designs are stalling, at best. With the oxygen of publicity, there should be the ability to discover new labels. Wedding blogs indicate that vast swathes of brides don’t want what is in the majority of shops. Perhaps it is time we pooled our strengths and with our combined power of being the first port of call for brides, the people who are actually talking to them online and in their fittings, we can use our expertise, specialist knowledge and commitment to educate women away from the suppliers who are determined to cut off our own life supply. BB
Agree? Disagree? enraged? Delighted? breath of fresh air? Kiss of death? get your views over. email bridal buyer today
The perfect Ă‘t
The Sottero & Midgley label is about to be re-launched. With a major marketing campaign behind it, and an open invitation to potential stockists visiting BBEH, this is seriously good news for the market. Bridal Buyer talked to Lyn Musselle
so stylish Sottero & Midgley has a distinct story to tell and it is one of fashion-forward design, superb fabrications and the fabulous ßt that has made ‘parent’ brand Maggie Sottero ßrst choice for so many brides
Maggie Sottero has long been one of the big names in the business. What is it that makes the collection special?
It is Maggie Sottero’s signature fit, innovative designs and quality fabrics. The bride experiences luxurious looks at an affordable price.
Never quite sure about this. Is it an Australian brand, or an American brand and where are the company’s headquarters?
The label originated in Australia and presently there are design teams located both in Sydney, Australia and the USA. Our world headquarters is located in Salt Lake City, Utah.
You have two labels – Maggie Sottero and Sottero & Midgley; what is the real difference between the two?
Maggie Sottero caters to brides who are looking for classic and traditional wedding gowns, while Sottero & Midgley is designed with the fashion-forward bride in mind and features avant-garde styling and high-fashion couture elements that make a different statement..
It’s really Sottero & Midgley we want to talk about. How long has the brand been around?
decision to offer our existing retailers ‘first refusal’ on the initial collections, as we felt that the Sottero & Midgley collection offered not only a different look, but a different price-point, to the Maggie Sottero collection already held in their stores. The re-launch will involve a small selection of gowns from the Spring 2013 collection, going ‘on-view’ in the main halls at Harrogate in September, on stand A3. And, for the first time ever, it will be possible for retailers to view the entire collection up in the Majestic Hotel’s Carriage Suite, where a full catwalk presentation will be staged. And there’s another first! We will not be showing the collection on a strictly ‘invite only’ basis, as we have done in previousl years, so Harrogate will offer the perfect opportunity for any buyer who is considering taking on a new label for their store, and looking for luxurious fabrics, on-trend styles, and the signature Maggie Sottero fit at a price-point that won’t break the bank. It is an exciting prospect... and it makes perfect sense.
At BBEH we will not be showing on an ‘inviteonly’ basis so it is the perfect opportunity for retailers looking for a new label for their store
Sottero & Midgley debuted in 2007.
Why are you relaunching the label and what is involved? When Sottero & Midgley entered the UK marketplace, we took the
Tell us a bit about the designer or team behind the look. Where are they based and what are their influences?
Sottero & Midgley is created by designers based in Australia and also the USA. Influenced greatly by the latest high-fashion trends, red-carpet looks and inspired by vintage styling, this team takes a synergistic approach to design. www.bridalbuyer.com
so stylish September? And also the retail price range.
The Sottero & Midgley design team source the best and most innovative fabrics from the top makers across the world. Lace, a ßrm favourite with brides today, has been used both as a highlight detail and as the main fabric, with delicate scalloped edges, or in an illusion panel
Vintage-inspired lace is prevalent throughout the collection, showcasing illusion necklines and three-quarter-length sleeves. Gowns featuring cascading tiers and swirls of soft fabric folds appear throughout the collection with many surprise elements. Although body-hugging mermaid and fit-and-flare silhouettes are core to the label, Sottero & Midgley caters to all tastes, so whether a bride is seeking a modern ball gown, sophisticated A-line, or a flowing chiffon style, she will discover her perfect dress in the Sottero & Midgley selection. As to the retail pricing, the majority of gowns fall within the £800 to £1,800 price bracket.
How many Sottero & Midgley stockists do you have in the UK and are you looking to increase that number?
Presently there are approximately 100 accounts throughout the UK, Eire and Scandinavia and we are hoping to increase the number of Sottero & Midgley accounts to a comfortable number, without intending to ‘flood the market’ as we do offer a respectable radius between accounts. However between the combined areas of the UK, Eire and the four Scandinavian countries we intend to keep the total number of retailers below the 200 mark.
What commitment does a retailer have to make in order to become and stay a recognised stockist?
Do you consider the label a style leader, or does it look at top designer trends and adapt those for the mass market?
Our design talent has been creating innovative styles that set standards in the industry. With Sottero & Midgley the bride experiences affordablypriced couture-style fashion.
And what about fabrics: are they exclusive to the brand?
Sottero & Midgley is a once-a-year collection, shown in September and therefore, in order for the collection to be fairly represented in a store, we require a commitment of ten sample dresses per year.
Sottero & Midgley is a once-a-year collection, shown in September. The gowns retail between £800 and £1,800
The fabrics we use are of the highest quality and include fine satins, taffetas, chiffons and gorgeous lace. Our design team is very selective when choosing fabrics, constantly scouring the international markets to find what is new, and different, and perfect for a particular gown.
Do the retailers who stock Maggie Sottero also buy Sottero & Midgley?
In the UK and the USA there are stockists who support not only the Maggie Sottero collection but also the Sottero & Midgley range so that they are able to offer their customers a wide selection of the latest styles over a number of price points.
In the UK, where do you position Sottero & Midgley in the marketplace?
Sottero & Midgley has captured that designer look, style and feel while sitting comfortably within the mid-market price range.
How many pieces are there in any one collection and how many of those are new? What is the longest running style and when was it first introduced?
We typically introduce between 50 and 60 new styles annually. In the current collection there are nearly 130 styles available. The longestrunning style is JSM1103, a sophisticated A-line lace gown accented at the waist with a slimming satin wrap and side bow. This style was introduced in 2008 during Sottero & Midgley’s second season and has proved to be a tremendous seller.
Tell us a bit about the new silhouettes, fabrics, and details we can expect to see at Harrogate this 36
Have you had problems with fake gowns appearing on the internet and how have you dealt with the issue? Has Maggie Sottero become involved in the initiative set up by Steve Lang of Mon Cheri in the US and Larry Warshaw of Sincerity in Europe, to halt factories selling copy dresses online?
Maggie Sottero is formally involved in this and other initiatives that include manufacturers, retailers, media outlets and other services directed at the production and distribution of counterfeit goods. New in the UK for 2013 will be the ‘Certificate of Authenticity’ that Maggie is renowned for in the USA. Each gown that leaves the UK warehouse, will receive its own certificate which states the bride’s name, dress style and store where it was purchased, in our bid to prevent not only counterfeit dresses, but trans-shipping, a practice which all manufacturers know exists, but few respond to. Maggie Sottero and The Bridal Company are fully committed in the fight to ensure that this practice is stopped and the UK and USA have closed and will continue to close, retailers found to be participating in this practice. The UK Certificate of Authenticity will be widely advertised in campaigns across all regions to actively encourage all of our brides to demand their Certificate and verify its authenticity through our email help line.
In the next year, how will you be supporting Sottero & Midgley in advertising and marketing and what sort of promotional plans do you have in place?
Sottero & Midgley as a collection is equally important to Maggie Sottero itself and to The Bridal Company and its retailers, so the label will be advertised extensively, year round, and in all the major bridal magazines, with the opportunity for retailers to participate. To further support our stockists, we feature them on the Sottero & Midgley website, offer them designer weekends, produce glossy brochures every year for their use in store, and we give our retailers access to our high-quality images. Most recently, we have made available to them a disc of live footage from the New York Bridal Fashion week runway, which took place in April 2012, and we hope to repeat this every season. BB
on the phone to...
Hollywood Dreams is about to celebrate a big anniversary – how many years is it? In 2013 we will have been in the business for 30 years. Tell us about Chic by Hollywood Dreams. How did a diffusion collection come about? We felt that there was a place in the market for gowns with our glamorous handwriting but with a contemporary twist and at a different price point. The fabrics I have used for Chic include highquality poly-taffeta, organza and chiffon; and silhouettes cover elegant, fitted A-lines and gowns with movement and style details. At White Gallery London in May, were the same retailers were buying into Hollywood Dreams and Chic or were there two distinct customer types? A small minority bought both collections, but the majority will go with the one that fits in with their existing pricing levels; retailers catering to the upper end want Hollywood Dreams, while those who need to keep an eye on costs will pick Chic.
You have stayed true to your romantic signature over the years. Has this been a deliberate strategy? Hollywood Dreams has always had a name for big, romantic gowns and our signature style has been in demand since we first started and right up to today. I am delighted that we are now dressing the daughters of earlier Hollywood Dreams brides.
How many stockists do you currently have in the UK? Approximately 60, but due to White Gallery London, the number is now increasing. You’ve always been a real supporter of your stockists. Which of your initiatives has Can you remember the first ever Hollywood Dreams dress? It was in satin, with a full, two-tiered skirt, a fitted bodice trimmed with Austrian lace, and big puffy sleeves complete with self-tying bows. The first order was from Harrods for 50 gowns and the retail price was £995.
Chic by Hollywood Dreams on the catwalk at White Gallery
Hollywood llywood Dreams D boss on the past, present and future, and her new innovative campaign
worked best do you think? We like to help our stockists, especially in difficult times. I have found that Designer Days can really make a difference to sellthrough. I do them regularly and talk brides through the collection, dress them, style them and make them feel extra special. We understand you have an amazing new support campaign in place. Tell us about it. Our Stockists Programme is focused on increasing sales. The package of initiatives includes ‘Authorised Stockist’ window insignia, photo books, a new website with stockist listings, PR and, the jewel in the crown, the bride’s Discount Voucher scheme.
How does the voucher scheme work, what does it comprise? All a bride-to-be needs to do is register on our new website and we will send them a voucher worth £150. We will also advise them of their nearest stockist. So every Hollywood Dreams bride-to-be can actually save £150 on her gown? How long will the campaign run for? It started a few weeks ago and the response has been amazing; we are yet to set the closing date. . Is this just the start of a new wave for Hollywood Dreams? Absolutely; we’ll be making a bigger splash than ever. And we are proud to be producing some of our gowns in the UK once again.
is in the
e Are the mAsters of bling!” says Adam Benjamin, director of shoe manufacturer, Paradox London. he’s sifting through samples of the brightly-coloured crystals that adorn many of the bridal and occasionwear shoes his company produces. Behind him are some of the more flamboyant shoes in his range: reds, yellows, cyans, purples, greens, even a tiger print, all gleaming proudly on the shelf. And sparkle is proving massively popular all over the world right now. Paradox sells wholesale to around 3,500 retailers globally, in a total of 45 countries. “We even have a stockist in Fiji,” Adam says. Asked how many pairs of shoes he sells altogether, he says “around a quarter of a million a year”. Forty per cent of business goes to retailers in the UK and Ireland, another 40 per cent to UsA and Canada, and 20 per cent across the rest of the globe. there are three collections under the umbrella of Paradox London, all offering bridal shoes, occasionwear shoes and a small number of bags. At the lower end of the market, with retail prices ranging between £55 and £80, is Pink, which drives the bulk of Adam’s business, over 50 per cent of everything he sells. then comes Belle, the middle range, which will be gradually phased out by the end of 2012 and replaced by a top-secret collection that will launch at BBeh september. Finally, there’s the flagship highend collection – Benjamin Adams – ranging in retail price from £150 to £500. Not all are totally bling; there are more sober styles available, too. this year Paradox celebrates its tenth anniversary. In January the company moved into new premises in an industrial park 40
At Paradox London, everything is sparkling, from the dazzling new collections to the sleek new headquarters. Dominic Bliss talks to Adam Benjamin about putting high fashion into bridal
shoe show in tottenham, north London. It’s like any industrial park in the capital, but as you get close to Paradox, you’re suddenly struck by this huge, shiny black building, all glass and marble, nothing like the dull, redbrick factories and warehouses surrounding it. Paradox London is a family-run business. 27-year-old Adam is director, overseeing sales, marketing and Pr, while his sister, sophia Dervish, handles merchandising, and his father Bob is “the manufacturing guru”. “It’s the integrity of the product,” Adam says when asked what advantages there are to having the Benjamin family in charge. “People know we have an attachment to our product. We care about our customers. We’re not this huge conglomerate of venture capitalists with fingers in all sorts of pies. We eat, sleep, breathe this business every single day.” Adam says he has shoemaking “in his blood”. It’s all thanks to his father who started off selling shoes as a London market trader in the early 1980s. At the end of that decade he moved into footwear retail, opening many shops across the capital. After the recession in the early 1990s he began manufacturing footwear, with a factory in Walthamstow, in east London. this was when Adam, as a youngster, first became involved. “As a kid I used to be in the factory all the time,” he remembers. “I worked with the designers, cutting patterns, lasting shoes. I’d be there all the time, after school.” Adam still has some of the early designs he made up as a kid. “I would never bring them out now because they would be detrimental to me, for sure,” he jokes.
company uses factories in spain (where most of Benjamin Adams is manufactured), and China and thailand (where the other ranges are made). While Adam creates some of the designs himself, he also employs a team of UKbased Italian designers, who draw up the initial designs in the UK before traveling abroad to see them off the factory lines. the company has four warehouses altogether. the tokyo base supplies Japan, Atlanta supplies North America and the Caribbean, Amsterdam supplies western europe, and London covers the rest of the world. Adam believes that Paradox has played a major role in changing the type of shoes brides wear. Before the turn of the millennium, brides tended to opt for comfort over fashion. And why not? Come the big day, they knew
dancing to switch into flat pumps. “We brought fashion to the bridal market,” Adam claims. “that was something they hadn’t seen. It really rocketed us forward.” he says that, in the high-end price point that Benjamin Adams occupies, it has become the leading footwear brand across europe. he admits he’s not competing with the likes of the stratospherically expensive Jimmy Choo or Christian Louboutin. “But their volume of sales in the bridal and occasion footwear market is nominal,” he adds. “It’s a tiny part of their business. Benjamin Adams is now sold in over 2,000 retailers worldwide. ”
Making the difference
so what’s the secret to Paradox London’s success? “Innovation,” Adam says after just a couple of moments’ hesitation. “I feel our
the world The company has covered with four warehouses yo, Atlanta, altogether – in Tok Amsterdam and London
a global operation
When everyone’s manufacturing bases moved out to the Far east, Adam’s father decided to specialise in bridal and occasion footwear, establishing Paradox London in 2001. the The newly-opened premises in north London house 15,000 square foot of ofßces and shoe warehousing
they were going to be on their feet for at least eight hours – walking down the aisle, standing for the service, hopping from foot to foot in the reception line, making the rounds at the reception, and dancing till late. But around this time, when the internet allowed shoppers to follow global fashion trends much more closely, women became more fashion-conscious in general. Adam believes the idea of a traditional wedding shoe is now anathema to most brides. At the start, Paradox decided to combine comfort and fashion by placing padding inside their shoes at the key pressure points. From the outside they may look like painful five-inch heels, but on the inside there is memory foam, gel padding and cushioned lining. suddenly brides could strut their stuff on the dance-floor – no more rushing back to the hotel room before the
massively Sparkle is proving popular all over the world x London right now. Parado sells to 3,500 retailers in 45 countries
mission statement as a company is to challenge the status quo. All the time we continue to do that. that’s the ethos I’ve always had. It’s something I’ve learnt from my dad: a business that stagnates will die.” Adam says his marketing strategy is a good example of how Paradox innovates. Instead of rolling out the typical magazine adverts with “a girl in a big white dress, wearing the shoes, and there’s your logo”, he likes to portray his company image in a different way. he might produce an advert with 25 pairs of shoes all stacked together, for example. Adam invests heavily in video as well as still photography. On his website, there is video footage from location shoots at a stunning private house in Oxfordshire and an edwardian ballroom in south London – the rivoli Ballroom. the latter has been used as a pop video location www.bridalbuyer.com
Paradox London spends serious money on its imagery. Getting the fashion and quality message over pays off
for the likes of elton John, Oasis and tina turner. Adam has just taken on a full-time employee to take care of social media. the plan is to target both brides and the retailers selling to those brides. he also intends to product-place his shoes on the feet of celebrities, using social media to generate publicity. Already, glamour models Katie Price and Danielle Lloyd have got hitched in his shoes. he recently hired an American Pr firm to help him crack the trans-Atlantic market. In its first ten years, Paradox has won plenty of awards. some of the more prestigious ones – including the Bridal Buyer ones – are displayed in the company’s boardroom. the company is up for a DeBI award later this year. “that’s the strongest accolade for the American bridal industry,” Adam says coolly. “It’s a tough market because we’re babies in the Us. my youngest competitor there has been around 30 years. One has been there since 1890. We are the new guys there since we’ve only been there four years. Plus we’re Brits. But we’ve had huge support from the American customers. I just hope they’ll vote for me.” meanwhile, Adam has other global regions in his sights. China, russia and the middle east are particularly important when it comes to his occasionwear collections. he is working hard to find the right distribution partners, and to negotiate the complicated local regulations. this global expansion will all be spearheaded from his headquarters in north London. “It’s my ambition in life to take this brand and really make it something,” Adam says stretching his feet under his smoked glass boardroom table. On his feet are a very sharp pair of brown suede brogues that he designed as a present to himself. he admits to being something of an Imelda marcos when it comes to his personal shoe collection. “this is embarrassing, man,” he says when quizzed on the actual number of pairs in his wardrobe. “I would say just shy of 50 pairs, and that doesn’t include trainers. But remember, I can take home a lot of samples we make. I’m not frivolous with money.” Next year Adam is getting married. he will of course be sporting a pair of his own designs. And he plans to design a bespoke one-off pair for his bride. “she will be wearing my shoes, otherwise there won’t be a wedding, for certain,” he says. And, I suspect he means it. “she is already torturing me by saying she’s going to buy a pair of Christian Louboutins just to spite me.” BB +44 (0) 20 8509 0001 www.paradoxlondon.com
Trudy Lee WE ARE NOW AT STAND Q12 @ BBEH
Paloma Blanca, known for its exquisite designs, high quality fabrication and construction has been providing exceptional customer service, and guaranteed delivery, from its own manufacturing facility in Canada for over 70 years. Debi Award Winner • Designer of the Year, 2006, 2007, 2008
Mikaella reflects and amplifies the very essence of simple elegance – the clean lines and selected detailing of this collection promote the ideal that the subtle beauty and grace of our gowns should accentuate the radiance of the bride. Designed and manufactured in Canada.
Showcasing at BBEH , stand D12
Showcasing at BBEH , stand D11
HEAD OFFICE Paloma Blanca • 77 Sheffield Street, Toronto, ON Canada M6M 3E9 • 416-235-0585 • firstname.lastname@example.org Mikaella • 77 Sheffield Street, Toronto, ON Canada M6M 3E9 • 416-235-2651 • email@example.com Northern England & Scotland Philip Swift • Tel: 07984 876330
UK AGENTS: Southern England Hazel Porter • Tel: 07976 959725
Ireland Karen Houston • Tel: 0044 7879 772607
By aSSOCiaTiON origins
association go back to 1995 when a number of suppliers wanted to be part of the newly-formed retail Bridalwear association (rBa). they became associate members, but when concerns were expressed that there could be a clash of retail and supplier objectives, it was decided that there were enough suppliers to warrant them having their own trade association. thus the British Bridalwear association (BBa) was formed and the chairman relinquished his role in the rBa. Various BBa documents available to members – Conditions of sale, terms of employment, tenancy agreements, agency agreements, special Measurement Charts, staff disciplinary & grievance Procedures, recovering overdue Money from other eC Countries – laid the foundations of a strong trade association which has stood the test of time. the BBa continued to grow and made a major step forward when all its members automatically became members of the UK fashion trades association (UKft) which still has the Princess royal as its President. hrh Princess anne has made ten visits to BBa members’ premises and these are highlights each year. UKft represents over 2,000 businesses in the UK fashion and textile trade with total employment in manufacturing and related jobs for over 100,000 people. its contribution to the UK’s economy is estimated at £37bn. exports are valued at £6.5bn with UK retail sales estimated at around £50bn. with the BBa’s involvement in UKft, the way was open for access to dti export funds. these were used to arrange subsidised exploratory visits to various export markets and particularly Chicago, Paris, essen, dublin and Berne. from this base the BBa organised export bridal exhibitions in various British embassies including dublin, Berne, stockholm, Copenhagen, Vienna and Moscow, as well as receptions for the press and buyers in Paris, Chicago and new York. a number of follow-up shows, notably inVienna and stockholm are being planned for 2013 onwards. BBa exhibitors pay a contribution towards the costs of these exhibitions plus otheir own expenses. although all British embassies are different, the ambience in all these venues is absolutely fantastic. embassy staff are usually on
hand to act as interpreters if necessary. over the years the BBa has facilitated a number of takeovers where one member takes over another, perhaps for retirement or health reasons. a perfect example of this is that rainbow Club now owns Joyce Jackson Veils and headwear, enabling Joyce and gordon to “carry on cruising”. as part of its support for members, the BBa operates a credit control system in which a supplier member can be provided with credit ratings for both new and existing clients, find home addresses for absconded shop owners and arrange networking between members which acts as an early warning system. six years ago the BBa started a bi-monthly worst accounts list. supplier members submit a list of their worst accounts with a brief comment on each and all lists are collated to produce a national Composite list. Members who take part receive a copy of the nCl. Back in 2006 there were 96 bridal retailers on the nCl and today there are over 200. this list is an invaluable tool for BBa members and many have been able to avoid substantial bad debts. in the recent past some retailers who have been entered on the list and then moved to the top of the multiple hit section, have almost inevitably ceased to trade. the BBa advises all members to use such wording on their invoices as: “all goods on this invoice will remain the property of the seller until paid for in full”. this clears the way for suppliers to recover goods from shops where the liquidator has removed all the stock, ready for selling off. Currently there are 43 BBa members. these are all individual companies, not just a list of brand names or multiple ranges. no salaries have ever been paid to any officers in the BBa and all work is on a voluntary basis. of course there are administrative costs but the association still shows a healthy bank balance. the future looks good but we do have space for new members and any offers of help would be appreciated. Please bear in mind that although the BBa exists for its own members, it is quite normal for it to offer help and advice to others. BB
Various BBA documents available to members laid the foundations of a strong trade association that has stood the test of time
the BBa has been representing suppliers’ interests for some 17 years. Chairman Joe Sweeney explains the association’s strengths and its key successes in helping the industry move forward
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by association essex Businesswoman of the year 2012, Laura Daly, owner of award-winning Bellissima weddings, jumped in headfirst when she was elected Chairwoman of the Retail Bridalwear association earlier this year. But now it is all making sense, she says
hat IS the RBa aND why ShoulD I want to be a member? I am often asked these questions and, to be honest, until I started to take an active role in the association, I was asking the same questions myself. I certainly didn’t appreciate the past efforts and vision that had formed the RBa and it wasn’t until November 2011, when I was voted in as Chair, that I really started to understand all the hard work and late nights involved. the RBa was formed in 1995 when a number of retailers and suppliers were concerned that standards in the industry were slipping and wanted to establish a kite mark that both the public and trade would respect. the newly-formed association was quickly recognised, and supported by the organisers of the harrogate shows. as the RBa grew, the Chairman, Joe Sweeney of Red Rose Designs in Sutton Coldfield, moved the supplier members on to form the independent British Bridalwear association (BBa), and alan Sanders of Proposals in Grimsby took over as RBa Chair. It’s a sad fact that then, as now, well over 80 per cent of bridal start-ups will fail before their fifth birthday so, from its inception, it was decided that RBa members would represent the uK’s more established shops – ones that had earned their business ‘stripes’ and had hit their fifth year of trading. to re-inforce this rule, members were (and are) credit-checked annually as a condition of membership. It was never the intention of the RBa to marginalise new shops and there have been many discussions over the years about a possible two-tier membership to accommodate them. unfortunately, however, the extensive support new businesses inevitably require has been beyond the resources of a voluntarily-run organisation. the ethos of the RBa is established by its code of practice – which all members agree to adhere to – and an executive council of nine member shops who monitor compliance and carry
forward initiatives on behalf of the membership. work done by the officers is unpaid and carried out for the greater good of the members and the industry as a whole. although the committee’s collective age may have run into high numbers recently, with age comes experience, and wisdom. to any critics I would say: do what I did, get involved, jump in and help. Bridalwear retailing is an everevolving world, and pooling ideas, experiences and solutions can be of enormous benefit to all. likewise, by joining and participating in discussions and meetings, members have the chance to mould the world in which they work. the RBa is an incredible platform from which retailers can air and share views; the two suppliers’ trade bodies have expressed a real interest in working closely with us in order to better understand the problems that we retailers face. that the industry is closing ranks on the Chinese copyists is a clear sign of the collaboration between the different sectors. For me, this year has been all about consolidating our membership package and making sure that our members feel well-provided for. the Brides’ Protection Scheme has been streamlined into an easy-to-use online registration process for consumers and the website has been totally revamped, with more functions to come. the RBa now tweets and has its own Facebook page; the newsletter has had a total overhaul, as has the e-letter facility, and we have a package of specially-negotiated rates for many essential services such as PDQs, insurance, payroll, printing and website design. Importantly, we have a direct line to a solicitor for legal advice; an email helpline for problems and resolutions; and a members’ liaison officer who keeps in touch with members and is there for a chat when needed. New terms and conditions are being finalised as well. at the harrogate shows, we have VIP facilities for members, and I am in the process of arranging a ‘Chair’s breakfast club’ to start soon.
Much to celebrate
our RBa awards are the oNly awards voted for by retailers and are a true reflection of current service and treatment received. RBa members can benefit from special ticket prices to the awards dinner, and from this year they will be presenting the awards themselves. on 25-26 November, the RBa will host its awayday weekend. the main topic will be on-going support and help for businesses after year five and staying in business to year ten and beyond. In 2013 we will launch an awareness campaign directed at brides. the RBa is here to advise members on all things business and bridal; it helps give brides the confidence to purchase their dress from a member via the Brides’ Protection Scheme; it is a mouthpiece for its members to air and resolve issues with customers and suppliers; and most importantly it is run by, and answerable to, its members. BB
The RBA Awards Dinner Dance The Crystal Ball will be held at the Majestic Hotel on 10 September 2012. Tickets are £75 each ( members £65). For membership enquires or further information: email@example.com
Recession? Double dip recession? What recession? White Rose hasn’t noticed. With 200 UK stockists and 50 worldwide, a great working relationship with all of them and steady reorders, things are ticking along very nicely thank you very much. Louisa Shulman talks to Yvonne McGregor
roses “I t’s ReallY veRY siMple,” saYs Yvonne McGregor, who fronts the long-established White Rose brand, when i ask her how she keeps so steadily afloat in what some describe as bumpy waters. “We have a great product at a great price, a manageable client base and great customer loyalty.” it was even simple right from the start, when Yvonne landed the job. “a friend had an interview for a pR job with a new bridal fashion label. i was working as a buyer at pronuptia and i went along to the interview to give my friend moral support. the company owner kept asking her questions about bridal that she couldn’t answer, so eventually she asked me to come inside. and that’s when i discovered that he was also looking for someone to head up the brand. He offered me the role on the spot.” ‘He’ was Gus Young, then an enterprising factory owner who was the biggest t-shirt manufacturer in China. He had recently decided to diversify into bridalwear and launched White Rose in July 1996. Yvonne grabbed the opportunity with both hands. “i saw immediately the potential for a company that had its own factory. it meant complete control and great flexibility,” she says.
Having its own factory is indeed an absolute blessing, enabling White Rose to provide the ultimate in customer service. “Recently one of our stockists rang us to say that a bride 48
uNder CONTROL White Rose and White Rose Plus reķect the latest trends, in fabrics, silhouettes and detailing. Special orders are part of the offering, which makes changes of neckline, hem length and even fabric possible
needed to bring her wedding forward by several months because her mother was ill. We told the factory to stop everything to make her dress in time. it is wonderful to be able to help someone out in that way. We can also adapt hemlines and necklines, we can make to measure – all sorts of things that one wouldn’t normally expect in this price range.” the price range (wholesale £175–£600) is broad enough that sometimes White Rose can be the most expensive label in a shop, and at other times it will represent the middle range. Yet even within the pricing structure there is flexibility, as dresses can be adapted to suit a customer’s budget. “if a bride likes the design of a silk dress but it is out of her price range, we can make it in a less-expensive fabric so she can have the look she wants. this is another advantage of owning our own factory – we really
come up with ideas, take them to him and he is always able to tell me how they will work, or to help me find a way to make them work.” inspiration comes from everywhere. “i find the annual oscars ceremony a fabulous starting point – anything that works in eveningwear will always work in bridal. i also buy random plates in Harrods’ sale to get embroidery ideas from the patterns, and lots of sheets of wrapping paper – they have great designs! sometimes i also need to be able to show the manufacturer things. a factory in China won’t necessarily understand, for example, what i mean by a fourleaf clover, so i’ll send over a plate with a fourleaf clover pattern on it.” Yvonne knows only too well how important it is to keep abreast of trends. “Bridal is no different to any other fashion sector,” she says. “Whatever goes on in the marketplace is
Yvonne’s top tips “I really believe that if retailers follow a few simple rules they will succeed. This is what I think are the most important things to focus on: Your shop window First class customer service Making sure staff have really good knowledge of the product Having pride in what you sell Keeping up with the latest trends
* * * * For White Rose contacts, visit the Brands Directory at bridalbuyer.com
can be all things to all people!” says Yvonne. With a background in fashion retail – working on the shop floor and then rising up the ranks to become a buyer – Yvonne knows all about customer service and client liaison. “i communicate with my customers and am constantly asking them what works for them. i keep the number of stockists at a level that i can manage – we are not greedy, we are not always looking to expand. our strength lies in our ability to service our market and our customers. the office is open on saturdays, and my customers know that they can call me on my mobile outside office hours if they need to. i know that the loyalty works both ways – if we are good to our stockists, they will stay loyal to us. in fact i would advise all retailers to stick with suppliers when they have a good working relationship, because then they will never let them down.”
puttiNg peNcil to paper
although Yvonne has no formal training in fashion, she sketches all the designs, with help from innovative american designer andy Koval, who was one of the first to introduce horizontal pleating on bodices, a look which has become extremely popular. “andy is a great mentor. i
relative to bridal. For example, vintage became big on the high street and before long it began to translate into wedding dresses, accessories and even veils. Girls going for vintage-style lace dresses often opt for short veils, and those choosing short dresses go for a Juliette cap with netting. this look is really in right now. shops would do well to take all this on board when doing their buying. i use lots of leanne McCague’s gorgeous vintage hair pieces in my photoshoots.”
the plus story
ten years ago, White Rose plus was launched. once again Yvonne’s own experiences proved beneficial. “i have been a bigger girl myself and i know that a standard dress, sized up, simply doesn’t cut it. a properly designed plussize dress has a whole different structure, and makes the world of difference not only to the look but to the way it feels to the wearer.” Despite not looking to expand in terms of stockists, Gus Young is taking the White Rose look one step further by providing the perfect backdrop for his stunning dresses – literally. in China, it is traditional to have the wedding photos done before the wedding. He has opened a vast studio filled with breathtaking backdrops
featuring lakes, waterfalls, snowy landscapes, italian churches and lots more, to enable aboutto-be marrieds to have stunning portraits. Yvonne only does two shows a year – Harrogate in March and september. “i love BBeH. it is the most friendly, buzzy show. all my customers come, even my overseas ones, so we simply don’t need to be anywhere else. this september we will be showing more lace than usual – lace dresses and shrugs with lace sleeves, which are fabulous teamed up with silk vintage-style dresses.” Yvonne says that internet selling is the biggest challenge faced by the bridal industry today. “online sales of wedding dresses are killing the market. We once discovered, to our horror, that someone had put some of our dresses on a site – i made a series of phone calls and they were removed within the hour. We must all keep on top of this threat – i implore other suppliers to be aware of what is going on and where their dresses are being shown. We must keep wedding dress sales off the internet – brides need to see, to feel, to touch, to try on and to have the whole buying experience. that’s what makes it so special, that’s what we are all investing in.” BB +44 (0)20 368 1500 / www.whiterosebridal.com www.bridalbuyer.com
We asked the four magazines that support the Bridal Buyer Awards programme with valuable sponsorship, to predict the up-coming trends
Helen Webster Perfect Wedding
some stunning pieces including a cute Moroccan-inspired two-piece with capri pants! I also loved Blue Bridalwear who had the sweetest fifties-inspired dresses with little collars. Other names I think are worth watching include Sanyukta Shrestha, Anny Lin and Gemy Couture Bridal.
What will be big?
Soft fabrics, lace, embellishment and vintage! I think we’ll see more unusual styles becoming popular though, with brides still wanting to look pretty and elegant but with a more individual twist. They’ll also be making their look their own by adding options such as shrugs, detachable straps and detailed belts.
What will quietly disappear?
What retailers are getting right?
Plain dresses in structured fabrics – brides want to move in their dresses and are going for a prettier, less ‘formal’ style for both themselves and their whole big day. I also think we’re seeing the end of the big, princessy ‘WAG’ look!
I think creating an ‘experience’ is important and from beautiful décor to outstanding customer service there are some boutiques that are really getting it right – g tthey are creating an environment a iin which brides ffeel comfortable and at ease yet a ttruly spoilt!
The importance of trade shows?
Even if you think you know who you want to stock and are happy with your designers, trade shows are a fantastic way to spot new trends and see what brides may be looking for next. Bridal fashion does move on and sometimes more quickly than you might think (just look how quickly brides were asking for lace after Kate’s dress last year!).
The benefit of good display
I believe a bridal boutique should be a bit like a girlie Aladdin’s Cave – somewhere that is a treat to visit and has all kinds of gorgeous things you want to look at, touch and try on! It’s important not to over-stock though - you may have the prettiest dresses and the best accessories, but if they are all crammed in and don’t catch a bride’s eye then so many sales may be lost.
If you owned a bridal shop. What would you call it, a and what would your top priorities be? p
The names to watch out for?
I loved Stephanie Allin’s new collection at White Gallery London – it included
Anything you can do to help market your boutique is great – and being an Awards finalist is something to really shout about
What they are getting wrong?
Our readers will really travel to find their dream dress and although some do get it right, I think all boutiques should be making the most of the potential offered by a good website. It’s a second shop window, after all, and you can reach so many more brides by having one – and one that tells a really good story of the business ethos and the collections carried.
The value to a retailer of being an awards finalist?
Anything you can do to help market your boutique is great – and being an awards finalist is something to really shout about. It shows you offer a certain standard of quality and commitment and that brides-to-be can expect this when they visit you! It also gives you a good reason to issue press releases and get editorial coverage. 50
II’d call it ‘Little White Dress’ because I always fall in love with anything tea-length, and would stock lots of sshorter styles. The first thing I’d do is put a lot more time into researching what I would do if I owned a bridal shop! I would specialise in the best styles inspired by the fifties and sixties (I’m a huge hoarder of vintage clothing, so it’s the obvious choice). I’d stock pretty but affordable accessories. I’d send every single bride away feeling like a million dollars, whatever her size, shape or age.
Tell us about Perfect Wedding
Every month, Perfect Wedding is packed full of the latest dresses, style ideas and accessories as well as a dedicated bridal boutique section. Our editorial is inspired by the catwalk and celebrity trends and includes the most stylish ideas for every budget. Our readers are fashion-forward and want to see the latest styles, with the majority saying the fashion pages are their favourite part of the magazine. We released a debut ABC earlier this year of 22,074 and the magazine goes from strength to strength with exclusive free gifts, promoted issues and fantastic reader competitions backing up quality editorial.
Media speak them into the store. Shops like Selfridges and Harrods are famous for their window displays but even the smallest of stores should aim for something special. I am shocked when I see bridal shops with mannequins that look as if they have seen better days and continue to show the same display for months (or even years).
If you owned a bridal shop, what would you call it, and what would your top priorities be?
Lizanne Harris Wedding magazine What will be big?
3D designs are going to be huge for the new season. Not just pretty, dainty florals appliquéd on to dresses, but also oversize floral corsages or origami-style pleats and folds. You’ll also see lots of flowing chiffon capes (like those from Pronovias) and to-the-floor veils that give a sense of layering and movement. And brides are likely to be more covered-up too. I’ve seen a lot of high, demure necklines and dresses with long lace or chiffon sleeves. Rather than low-cut fronts, it’s all about the back being on display with some stunning cut-out details.
I’d have to call it Hitched. Inside the shop... I would set aside space to arrange a real ‘moment’ for brides and their friends/ family. Maybe a manicurist on site or a specialist in eyebrow shaping... or both! And there’d definitely be a bar area with drinks and cup cakes). I’d make sure that Hitched had a real identity. My customer would be the bride who reads magazines like Vogue and Elle. Decor-wise, I would like a librarystyle wall of old romantic books and another modern montage wall of amazing photography and fashion images. There’d be a photo booth plus a spacious
* * *
Trade shows are invaluable as I can see i collections together in one place, get a good overview of emerging trends and remind myself of who is doing whatccc
What will quietly disappear?
Edwardian-style, empire-line dresses are likely to be thin on the ground and also large, voluminous, stand-out skirts.
The names to watch out for?
At White Gallery London Greek designer Victoria Kyriakides showed an amazing collection of knife-edge pleats pressed into organza and stunning back details of macramé and beading. Her dresses have a lovely ethnic feel to them and are incredibly adventurous. Also look out for KatyaKatya Shehurina, a young, spirited duo that creates fresh, romantic looks with a bohemian feel.
The value to a retailer of being an awards finalist?
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From my point of view, trade shows are invaluable as I can see collections together in one place, get a good overview of emerging trends, remind myself of who is doing what and the styles I want to base my fashion stories around.
The benefit of good display?
A decent window display is what will draw a potential customer in. It needs to be inspirational, excite the shopper and entice
What will be big?
2012 has been mostly about lace, against all the odds, really. I say this because no-one really believed that Kate Middleton’s choice of gown would have such a huge impact. Designers and manufacturers all produced their own replica, but I’m guessing retailers were more cautious about actually ordering them. Yet, our most popular online features and blogs mention that wedding...
What will quietly disappear?
On the flip side, we have been seeing fewer simple, strapless A-line dresses from our brides and fascinators appear to be out.
The names to watch out for?
MiaMia from Alan Hannah, Mae by Johanna Hehir, Agnes, Bella Donna, Diane Harbridge and of course So Sassi, who is sure to succeed with the collection of affordable chic she has just produced.
What retailers are getting right?
white wall where my brides and their friends could take Polaroid shots of each other in various dresses.
A recent survey has shown that for the past two years, wedding budgets have dropped quite significantly. We know that brides are demanding more for their money, and retailers have had to adapt by including perhaps bridesmaid dresses, shoes, accessories or alterations in the price of the gown. We feel sure that they have also had to take on collections and dresses that they know will sell well – there are some real bankers in each collection.
Wedding is inspirational and aspirational. Our typical reader is ABC1, 20-34, and she expects Wedding to offer her lots of ideas for the most glamorous event of her life, covering everything from her dress to the reception and the honeymoon. Wedding’s circulation is 40,066 (to end Dec 2011).
I can’t help noticing that the retailers who get their social networking spot on are fast getting ALL the press. I would say to each retailer that if you haven’t joined twitter and you haven’t created a facebook page, now’s the time. I would also advocate blogging. It’s a steep learning curve, but the way of the >
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It shows the right type of recognition.
The importance of trade shows?
Rachel Southwood Wedding Ideas
Tell us about Wedding magazine
What they are getting wrong?
Media speak world and retailers need to keep up with the times, and their brides.
your shop stands out from the crowd. Itâ€™s something money canâ€™t buy.
Trade exhibitions are imperative, of course, but one thing that struck me over the past year is that there are far too many of them. Food for thought.
Many Scottish bridal boutique owners network at trade shows and add notable designers to their list of stockists. Matthew Williamson, Amanda Wakeley and Alice Temperley are just a few recent additions in Scotland following successful trade shows. Events like White Gallery and BBEH offer more than just a chance to check out the new collections of the designers you already stock; they are there to help you become aware of emerging trends.
The importance of trade shows?
The importance of trade shows?
The benefit of a good display?
Window displays are just like newsstand magazine front covers â€“ the only advert you have, the only way of telling your potential customer what to expect inside. Retailers must deliver their promise...
Lorna Leckie, Scottish Wedding Directory
If you owned a bridal shop, what would you call it, and what would your top priorities be?
What will be big?
I would call it a variation of my name. I would scour Companies House to make sure that there was nothing quite like it out there because itâ€™s good to be unique. I would also definitely make sure the URL.com was available, and I would make sure that it was easy to spell. I would definitely offer free drinks (even stretching to Cava!) for customers. I would decorate the shop in a stylish, minimalist way so that it wouldnâ€™t look chintzy or old-fashioned in a few years. I would offer a complete range of prices and as many British designers/labels. I would make sure that my staff knew the importance of customer service. I would brief them fully in handling plussized brides, or those who arenâ€™t dressed head-to-toe in designer labels â€“ you never know how much money someone has to be spend â€“ looks can be deceiving â€“ and word of mouth is so important.
Fishtails will be replaced by trumpet line; structured satins will play second fiddle to sheer fabrics.
The names to watch out for?
Claire Pettibone: already attracting interest after one of her designs was worn by Facebookâ€™s Mark Zuckerbergâ€™s new wife, Priscilla Chan, earlier this year. Alice Temperley: arriving in Scotland in 2012. Benjamin Roberts and Enzoani: classic bridal style and lovely big skirts, and, importantly for our readers, accessible across a range of budgets.
What retailers are getting right?
Tell us about Wedding Ideas
Bridal retailers are improving their online presence and many are now interacting with brides on Facebook and Twitter. Scottish retailers are also focusing on customer service and staff training. Theyâ€™re responding to customer needs by introducing extended opening hours, flexible alteration services, and including little extras to give dress shopping the sense of occasion that brides expect.
We are published every four weeks, have an ABC of 30,191 and are currently the number one listed bridal title in Tesco, Asda, Sainsburyâ€™s and Morrisons. We are what we are â€“ fun, practical, down-toearth and useful. We deliver exactly what we promise on the cover â€“ IDEAS. And we also feature more real-life weddings than any other UK bridal magazine.
What they are getting wrong?
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Keeping news quiet (tell us whatâ€™s happening in your bridal boutique, please!), not using social networking as effectively as possible when communicating with current clients and as a method of attracting new business and failing to update out-of-date websites.
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Your shop front is the window to your brand. So many of our brides say they visit a bridal boutique because they remember a great dress in a window from days before they th y were even engaged!
What will quietly disappear?
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The benefit of good display?
Skirts! Dramatic gowns with overstated detail and textured fabrics are going to be everywhere too. But weâ€™re also predicting a subtle style nod to simple straps, tealength dresses and delicate embellishments this year.
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We are media sponsors of the VOWS Awards in Scotland and are acutely aware A of how important it is to be a finalist. It o boosts staff morale, builds brand awareness and is an independent recognition that
If you owned a bridal shop, what would you call it, and what would your top priorities be?
The name? SWDresses and weâ€™d give a free magazine away with every dress purchase! Research. Iâ€™d know my market inside out. Iâ€™d stock reliable designers. Iâ€™d ensure all staff have excellent customer service skills. Bridal dress shopping is all about the experience so itâ€™s vital that every person who walks through the door feels valued. Iâ€™d make sure I had an easy-to-use, accessible website to act as my online shop front, but I would also use social networking to broaden my reach and create brand ambassadors. Iâ€™d open on Sundays and late nights.
* * * * *
Tell us about Scottish Wedding Directory
We are Scotlandâ€™s best-selling, market-leading wedding magazine with regular fashion shoots, spreads and style guides as well as designer interviews and bride feedback. With just under 30,000 weddings taking place in Scotland each year, we have a captive audience to which we publish 20,000 copies on a quarterly basis. Our editorial house style is friendly, informative and inspirational. Our January issue is our fashion focus.
IMPRESSION invites new and existing stockists to view the latest 2013 bridal plus award winning bridesmaid and prom collections at BBEH September 9-11 on stand C28/34. Catwalk presentations on the stand at 12pm, 2pm and 4pm. Free Impression bridesmaid sample set to ALL Impression bridal stockists. www.impressionbridal.co.uk
There is something undeniably romantic about swishy skirts with added Òounce. Multi tiers, rufÒes and fabric layering – now something of an art form – produce dimensional texture and movement, with laser-cut Òowers, lace motifs and swirls of ribbonwork setting hearts aÒutter. The 2013 collections that will debut at Harrogate this September will rustle up the best
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Diane has combined Hollywood glamour with pretty, feminine elegance to create a collection of 30 dresses that guarantee repeat sales and help to increase your margins. Many areas are still available. For more information or to arrange an appointment contact us via the details below.
www.dianeharbridge.com firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01829 752 2 192 dianeharbridge
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Zef i ro Grace Harrington Couture Hera Bridal Hilary Morgan Impression Bridal Inlove by Emmerling Intuzuri Ivory & Co Ivory & Grace Izmir Brida; Jade Daniels Jasmine Jean Fox Jim Hjelm Blush JLM Europe Justin Alexander Justin Alexander Signature Kathy Ireland Weddings by 2Be Kay Mason Brides Kiss the Frog Bridal Lisa Marie LM LMB Bridal London Harmony/Lily Designs Lou Lou Luna B Lusan Mandongus Maggie Sottero Manon
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You will find hundreds of collections at the important September exhibition – 2013 ranges which will be unveiled for the first time in the UK. It is a big, beautiful show with a tremendous buzz, and it is where the industry does its serious busiess for the year ahead
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Benmark Lingerie Blue Ribbon Bodywrap Bride By Wishes Carnival Creations Dominique Lingerie Elila Lingerie Heading Up! Julie France Body Shapewear Jupon Lormar Merry Modes Sticky Straps
Men’s formalwear Anthony Formalwear Antonio Villini Avant Garde by Heirloom Beau Monde Cameron Ross Heirloom Waistcoats Hunt & Holditch Jean Yves Masterhand Michael George Peter Posh Formal Suit Hire Torre
Alexia Designs Amanda Wyatt Angel Bridesmaids by Linzi Jay Busy B’s Communion by Linzi Jay Couche Tot Crystal Breeze Emmerling Frazer & James of Knightsbridge Gino Cerruti Jean Yves Joan Lee Accessories Little Giants Little Temptations Lou Lou Next Generation Peppermint Premier Design Pretty Maids Sevva Sweetie Pie Collection Tara Lee UK Tiffany Designs True True Twilight Designs Victoria Kay Watters
Bridal Retailers Network Bridal Consultancy Service Brimas Bridal Software Empty Box Company Fashion & Textile Children’s Trust Morplan Omnisew/Omni-Pro-Steam Propress RBA Xedo Software
Packaging Alphawrap Concept Covers Hoesh Inca Morplan
Arianna By My Love Calla Rosa Designs Clairmodel Eglantine Creations Farage Galaxy Gigi Amore www.bridalbuyer.com
MAJOR PLAYERS The leading men’s formalwear suppliers who will be exhibiting at Harrogate in September (9-11) talked to Anna-Marie de Souza about their particular strengths – and their new collections
Antonio Villini With much of its manufacturing in the UK, Antonio Villini’s range of formalwear for boys to 16-year-olds is an affordable luxury. The company is best known for its three-piece suits, made from quality, hardwearing fabrics; there is every indication that the best-seller for the year ahead is an outfit called ‘Page Boy’ that comprises trousers, waistcoat, shirt and cravat. The versatile look is hired for weddings and other smart social occasions, such as Christenings and family gatherings. The company, which has been in operation for over 17 years, prides itself on continually offering value for money and adaptable easy-to-wear garments. Trends Silver grey and charcoal grey brocade and poly-viscose are the most popular suit fabrics, and have continued to do well over the past year. The suits work well with the vibrant range of shirts, waistcoats and ties that Antonio Villini offers. Popular accent colours include Cadbury’s purple and cerise. Top Tip for reTailers “People aren’t looking to spend a lot on the children at the moment,” says boss, Pav Dovedi. “But instead of ignoring the sector, retailers should start off with a small range that they can build on as and when they need to. You don’t have to invest in lots of different items, just a few key pieces – especially if the price point is low.” +44 (0)1634 838745 www.premierdesigns.eu 64
Masterhand Masterhand has been selling to the UK market for 30 years – and operating in its homeland, Germany, for 60 years. A major innovator in men’s formalwear, this is the label that led the way in the 1980s with a three-quarter-length frock coat and use of plush velvets and, a decade later, inspired a new generation of waistcoats with its luxe tapestry designs. Masterhand is best known for its superior quality and handsome cuts, and focuses on edgy narrow-profile suits in traditional tones of grey, black and navy. Masterhand is committed to building good relationships with customers and offers a 24-hour delivery service and a ‘never-out-of-stock programme’ for mix-and-match suits. Trends Masterhand is single-minded in its approach and will continue to build on its range of innovative designs that mix classic features with a slimline contemporary cut. White-yarn-based waistcoats will take over from the ivory and ecru shades that have been popular over the past few years, the company predicts. Top Tip for reTailers “You have to move on with fashion,” says Masterhand’s Graham Phebey. “Too many outlets are still trying to compete with 20-year-old stock! In the trade we must all appreciate hire stock has a sellby date. Retailers must understand that the public are more demanding, with a heavy emphasis on fashion, and that to satisfy this demand they have to invest and charge accordingly.” +44 (0)1622 844670 www.masterhand.com
Hirewear International is the UK arm of one of the largest US men’s evening and wedding wear manufacturers, Jean Yves, and offers a variety of ranges, including tailcoats and fashion suits, dinner jackets, shirts and waistcoats. The company prides itself on good-quality, well-priced collections, and is known for its shirt selection – there are four collar shapes, three colour choices, and sizes from extra tall to small (ie fashion kit for kids). Recently Jean Yves has added footwear to its portfolio providing retailers with a turn-key approach to hirewear; footwear is a sector that the company plans to grow over the next few years. In the US for some 49 years, with production in Colombia and elsewhere across the world, Jean Yves’ UK base includes warehousing, offices and showrooms in Fareham, Hampshire, making it easy – and fast – to service stockists this side of the pond. Trends Mohair will continue to be a popular fabric for suits but, in terms of shirts, collars that fit with a range of different tie styles will grow in popularity. Instead of looking at shirts to hire, retailers will be moving towards low-cost, fashionright products that grooms will be happy to purchase outright. Top Tip for reTailers “You need to provide your customers with a wide range of affordable items,” says Tony Rowland, one of the company’s UK directors. “Work with a manufacturer that you can rely on, and listen to their advice on what’s popular and what will sell well.” +44 (0) 1737 832226 www.jeanyves.co.uk
Cameron Ross Founded in 2007, Cameron Ross supply formalwear and Highlandwear to a network of over 200 independent retailers across the UK. Backed by ACS Clothing, it supplies a massive 450,000 outfits to the UK market each year. The company specialises in premium garments and offers a high level of personal customer service. Its flagship items include a range of tailcoats and short jackets in a grey wool/silk blend; grey is the company’s best-seller today, displacing the more traditional black. The wool/silk range is exclusive to ACS retailers and was designed in-house by the company’s Chairman, Joe Freedman. The cloth is made exclusively for Cameron Ross in Turkey, and the jackets are manufactured in Morocco. The company offers its retailers access to a bespoke ‘OMS’ system that allows them to quickly and efficiently build outfits, book parties and calculate payments online. Trends Cameron Ross is seeing a big resurgence in bookings for navy garments with paler shades for waistcoats and ruches to match the pastel tones favoured for bridesmaids’ dresses. Top Tip for reTailers “We always tell our bridal retailers to ‘capture the groom,’” says Elaine McCalden from Cameron Ross. “You get the first bite at the cherry; you know the bridal colour palette and can make a great recommendation for menswear right there. Seize the moment and make sure that the bride (who, after all, makes the key decisions) has the confidence that the men in her wedding party will look great.” +44 (0)141 781 6530 > www.hirewear.co.uk www.bridalbuyer.com
Swarbricks Swarbricks Formal Wear, incorporating Heirloom Waistcoats and Ultimate Formal Hire, has been trading for an impressive 36 years. A leading name in the UK’s formal hire retail sector, it supplies 120 shops in England and Scotland. Heirloom was founded 11 years ago allowing Swarbricks to have its own excusive range of waistcoats for its suit collections and, as a result, the company can offer a full turn-key hire range of middle-to-top-end formalwear. The company is extremely proud that all Heirloom garments are manufactured in the UK; however, representatives travel the world discovering cutting-edge fabrics and picking up design ideas. The leading style for 2012 is the Elite range, which provides a contemporary twist on classic design, coupled with luxury fabrics and coordinating neckwear. Trends Elegant waistcoats will be big news in 2013. Simple, contemporary designs, in sleek top-quality fabrics, are key. In terms of neckwear, shades of blue will be the height of fashion with a nod to richer purples. Top Tip for reTailers “Extensive stock service ranges will be even bigger in 2013,” says Swarbrick’s Jane Powell. “We launched our stock service two years ago and I feel this has really helped retailers with cash flow, as they’re able to rely on 24-hour deliveries.” +44 (0)1706 367711 / www.swarbricks.co.uk
Wilvorst Formal Wear
Torre Torre has been in business in the UK for more than 18 years, surging in popularity over the past five with a substantial sales turnover increase of around 30 per cent each year. This long-established Portuguese house operates to a wellplanned development strategy and never has its finger off the pulse when it comes to trend indicators. Torre’s formalwear stock service range is key to its business success – and it is committed to expanding its stock offering and to providing complementary associated services such as ‘Quick Service’ and ‘Personal Tailoring’ to clients in order to address specific needs on a case-bycase basis. The company prides itself on combining innovative new materials with the latest fashion trends, all with a sophisticated edge, especially in cut and highlight detailing. Trends Over the next year Torre predicts that silhouettes will get even slimmer, giving a slick contemporary twist to a classical cut. In terms of colour, grey is still top favourite of the company’s range, but a navy and dark blue palette are expected to emerge as fashion leaders in the near future. Top Tip for reTailers “Both retail and hire will keep growing in line with business over the next decade,” says Jorge Correia from Torre. “To help your business you need to find the right suppliers and partners for your way of working.” +44 (0)1252 623111 www.torre.pt
After 30 years in the industry, it is hardly surprising that Wilvorst has carved its own niche and today it is widely regarded as an international force in men’s formalwear. The German giant, whose attention to intricate detail is exemplary, uses a range of stylish lightweight fabrics for its tailoring and adds exclusive lining materials in a wide variety of prints and colours. Wilvorst’s neat shoulder line and signature slim-cut silhouette (now featured in 90 per cent of the collection) has helped position the company at the forefront of the top end in the menswear sector. Trends Over the next year, Wilvorst’s range will continue to reflect the popular classical style; to add an air of luxury, a rich brocade fabric will be used in more ranges. In terms of colour, the company still sees grey as big news – and that’s grey in every shade – but predict that navy will have a renaissance in 2013. Top Tip for reTailers “Just keep going and stand by your beliefs,” says Andy Roberts, Wilvorst’s UK representative. “The current economic climate means that things have been hard, and there may still be some tough times ahead – but things are set to get better.” +44 (0)117 9327905 www.wilvorst.de
WINNER 2011 Top Menswear Supplier
www.hirewear.co.uk To become a stockist call 0141 781 6520 or email email@example.com
Moments in UK agent | Andrew Roberts Agencies Ltd Island House, East Swinford Mill | Swineford, Bristol, BS30 6LW Tel: 0117 932 7905 | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.wilvorst.de
Head girl An understanding of design disciplines and a passion for her product has helped a young headdress maker develop her own, highlyindividual trade collection which will launch to the world at September’s harrogate. Georgina Daniels checks out hT headwear
hen your own wedding think that brides recognise an award as confirmation is the catalyst for a lucrative that a brand is good. however there is a lot of work business it could be called a involved in getting support behind you and shouting good career move. helena about it on social media. i can’t commit the time to that Talbot made her headdress, this year, but i definitely hope to enter for some more as well as those for her awards in the future.” bridal party, when she tied up until now, hT headwear has only been available the knot in 2008; she found the experience wonderful online or by personal visit to helena, although she and wanted to do the same for other brides. “getting has made a bespoke bridesmaids’ range for nikki married is such a special time and so exciting to plan. MacFarlane and pieces for several other designers. The buzz around it was what drew me now helena is about to launch a to a career in the industry,” she says. wholesale collection at harrogate, so After leaving school helena did an that brides will be able to buy their Art and design foundation course and hT headwear piece in their chosen then a degree in Constructive Textiles. bridalwear shop. She signed on for a few courses at “it may seem ambitious to expand Janie Lashford’s School of Millinery in the current climate, but brides don’t and found that she had real flair for seem to be spending any less – in fact designing headpieces – not only that, A strong backbone i have sold more expensive headpieces she loved it! and work ethic are vital to this year than ever before,” says helena. helena designed and made a get ahead in this business “Brides also seem to be more confident small collection of headwear for a You need to know your about wearing ‘different’ headpieces boutique in her local village. it was brides now and they are a lot bolder with really well-received and that gave her Be sure of whom you the styles that they choose.” helena the confidence to make the various are trying to reach is even hopeful of picking up some headpieces needed for her wedding. Stay focused on what international stockists. “i have already however, it wasn’t until she was on you are trying to achieve had brides from the uSA, Canada and maternity leave with her first child Always bear in mind Australia coming to me, so i’m very that she started making pieces that not all brides will like excited about the potential markets again – this time round for friends everything you show them that are out there.” and family members who were – you can’t please all of The wholesale collection comprises getting married. on the strength the people all the time! ten different traditional and of that, she set up a website and did contemporary designs in ivory and a bit of advertising. orders started to come in and white (bespoke pieces can be dyed to suit), available in brides began to make appointments. helena took the a choice of finishes and trims. plunge and launched hT headwear at the national There is plenty to choose from – exquisite wedding Show in october 2010. She has not looked handblocked headpieces trimmed with silks and back since. chiffons and adorned with handmade flowers, plus a range of floral combs, clips and headbands with Heading for success detachable birdcage veils. Some pieces are bestin just two years, hT headwear has built up a sellers from her website, others are new for the 2013 reputation for style, quality and great personal collection, the first trade range. service at an affordable price. it was shortlisted in the regional finals of the 2012 wedding industry Awards a brave step for Best Accessories Brand, and also nominated for going from running a small private business to a wedding ideas award. “This has been great for launching a wholesale collection is not without risk. “i raising awareness of my label,” says helena. “i also offer a really friendly and extremely personal service
Helena’s tips for success
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The look is soft and feminine and a single piece might include any number of different fabrics, textures and ßnishes which is what creates the signature for this new name in the trade arena. Bespoke designs can be dyed which means you can offer a complete look to your MOBs and wedding guests
and this is what i will look for in my stockists. it’s really important for me to ensure that the boutiques that stock hT headwear offer the same service that i do and that they have the same target audience. i will support them as much as i can. “Coming from a sales background i am fully aware that product training is really important. i will be working closely with the boutiques to ensure that they know how to fit the headpieces properly and the different variations available. “when brides come to me i take the time to get to know them and to find out all about their wedding plans; they come to treat me like a friend. i offer advice on what suits them and their dress, their wedding, their theme, but ultimately i let them decide. i hope to do designer days at my stockists so that i can get to meet the brides and offer them this service too.” helena designs and makes headpieces for the whole wedding party – mums, bridesmaids, flower girls and guests – all in her studio in South west London. She sources the finest fabrics, feathers and embellishments from British suppliers and keeps her eyes and ears open for inspiration. “i am constantly inspired by things around me. it could be as random as the blossom on a tree or something my little boy says. in the autumn he was obsessed with acorns and their little hats so we used to bring some home from the park every time we went. This triggered an idea and led me to design a few more textured pieces in my 2013 collection. i find that having a little person around with their innocent questions about everything helps to get the creative juices flowing.” Creating a new design can take several weeks, especially if it is bespoke, but a piece from the collection can be ready in just a few days as the design process has already been completed. The bespoke service will be available in boutiques. helena tries all headbands, clips and combs herself to ensure that she uses the most comfortable attachments. Some pieces are wired so they can be bent to fit the shape of a bride’s head. helena is very excited about what the future holds for hT headwear. “Seeing my pieces in selected bridal boutiques all around the uK and further afield is an ambitious goal, but it’s my total focus right now. i love this industry and i am thrilled to be part of it!” BB +44 (0)7891 819 933 / www.htheadwear.com bridalbuyer europe
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You & your website
While our website guru Helen Young is working on the relaunch of youandyourwedding.co.uk, Claire Snewin gets to dish out the advice to Bridal Buyer readers
I have always prided myself on the quality of my website and have invested a fair amount of time in getting it to look right. Or so I thought. a bride who came in for the ¿rst time recently said she had been hesitant to make an appointment because she couldn’t see what the shop looked like online. she said she only made an exception because she wanted to see a particular collection which I have exclusivity over in my area. am I putting potential customers off by not having shop images online? While dress shopping is incredibly exciting for brides-tobe, it can often be quite daunting, too. Finding the perfect wedding dress is stressful as it will more than likely be the most cherished and costly item in their wardrobe. Adding pictures of your boutique to your website can help create a positive first impression and may help re-assure potential customers about the quality and level of service they will receive when they visit your shop. It does not have to be the first thing you see on the homepage – as your customer said, the collections you stock are key – but it may be worth investigating whether you can add a few images to your ‘about us’ or ‘contact us’ pages.
Do you think it is a good idea to have a screen of some sort in my shop (I have space) with my website on it so brides-tobe can look up the dresses and services on offer? How would I set something like this up?
have a zoom functionality on your site, you will have to invest in some web development and have it created for you. Before you do so, investigate whether you already have the option to upload a larger image size which is reached by a click-through button or if you can create a gallery of detailed images cropped from the images sent to you by the dress supplier.
Past issues of Bridal Buyer have often sung the praises of blogs. To be honest, I’m not really sure of what a successful blog should contain or how frequently it should be updated. also how personal should it be? Writing a blog can be a lot of fun and reap many rewards but it is hard work and you need to be able to dedicate time to it to make it successful. The best blogs are updated regularly so before you commit consider whether you have the time to source and write fresh new content at least once a week. Neglected blogs can do your brand more harm than good so don’t overstretch yourself! Keep blog posts newsy and conversational; show-off the exciting new collection you’ve just taken delivery of, tell people about in-store events you are planning and post pictures of them afterwards. A glimpse of the person behind the blog is key – you want to build a rapport with your readers and keep them coming back for more.
Writing a blog can reap many rewards but it is hard work and you need to be able to be able to dedicate time to it
Most brides-to-be will have done their homework before they visit your store so it’s likely they will already be familiar with your website. In many cases it was probably what persuaded them to make an appointment with you. While it may be helpful to have access to the internet so you can show customers the additional services you offer, a large screen or computer is probably not the best use of space in a shop. Consider investing in a tablet device like an iPad that you can store away below the counter and bring out to use as and when you may need it.
I notice that some websites highlight and enlarge certain areas of a picture. How do I incorporate this facility on to my website? Showing off the gorgeous detailing on the dresses you stock is tricky online as you can be limited to the image crop size dictated by your site design. If you do not already
I go on to Twitter quite a lot, more to see what other people are saying than to say something myself. But I don’t understand, if it is a business tool, the bene¿t of very personal material, like “I need a glass of wine now” or “Hello everyone”. am I missing the point here? Twitter is a great way to promote your business and interact with other wedding suppliers so it is important to present yourself in a professional manner. That being said, you shouldn’t be afraid to put some personality into your tweets too. Commenting on a busy day in the boutique, a fun day at a family wedding or a dress you’ve seen and loved shows the real person behind your brand and encourages interaction with customers and business contacts. If you’re feeling cautious about tweeting personal material, re-read every tweet and ask yourself ‘would I say this in front of a customer?’ If the answer is no, you may want to re-think. BB
it comes as no small surprise that London’s exclusive designer-only show is ranked way up there as one of the single most important events on the international bridal buying calendar, attracting top names and the best shops
freya rose, halo & Co, harriet Wilde, ian Stuart, Stephanie Allin and Vivienne Sheriff put the icing on the cake for a press photocall. Confections included ed a tea length, dolly Mixtures dress by Stephanie and a delicious hat by y Vivien Sheriff
Lean-Ann Belter Lean The Vintage Wedding Dress Company
he third edition of White Gallery London, staged in the capital in May, delivered exactly what the bridal world demands – innovation in design, couture quality in make, elegance in approach. Some of the 2013 collections on show were assertive, some witty, some controlled – and all were captivating, and different. the catwalk shows are, of course, a key ingredient in the successful show mix. So what did they produce this year? in the exclusive, own-name, invitation-only shows, Alan Hannah delivered a collection that epitomised grown-up chic, with wonderfully elegant dresses, understated in terms of embellishments and relying on superb cut. Slipper silk satins rippled softly to create the sensuous form and subtle folds. And there was a coat, full length and body skimming, which was to sigh for. Anoushka G, known for its red carpet occasionwear, has moved seamlessly into bridal with its Wedding Couture label and produced a knockout, stylish collection of slender gowns dressed with feathers, a flurry of ruffles, and amazing sculptural beadwork with more than a nod to
the flapper dress of the roaring twenties. Ian Stuart opened his show to the sound of music – fine operatic arias – and a dramatic backdrop of enchanted woods and a personalised St Paul’s cathedral. his models seemed to glide along the catwalk as gown after sumptuous gown was sent down the runway. Chalky pastels with a hint of metallic sheen, gauzey self stripes and polka dots, vast bows – bow upon bow upon bow – and amazing flowers forming an entire skirt, or creating a single shoulder, or worked into a cheeky bustle, and sometimes a combination of all those things, added up to a brilliant, witty new collection, topped with a Victorian floral print crinoline that had the audience on their feet and whooping with delight. Stephanie Allin – a flurry of fabrics and a sparkle of jewels – introduced marvellously controlled silhouettes; even those that flowed free had shape and an innate sense of style that in some instances crossed over to the boho. Clever use of gloss and matte saw a play on textures, while hints of delicate pastels – lilac, oyster, peach and old rose – added further interest. And Stewart Parvin, the master of precision cut and elegant shapings, created d a series of understated gowns with sculpted d necklines, clean sharp lines and only thee very occasional hint of shimmer. his finale,, a dress of silk brocade with an exotic parrott motif, topped with a 50s, back-fastening g short jacket with mink-cuffed sleeves, wass a highlight of the day.
Hazaar of London
Coming together C
this year White Gallery London th featured two compilation catwalk fe performances. At the British talents pe Show, classicist Blue Bridalwear S presented a modern retro range p with influences from the 50s and w 60s – smooth, angular shapes 60 in crisp fabrics contrasted with boxy lace jackets and Jackie bo o-style bows. newcomer to White o Gallery, Hazaar of London, specialist G in ‘convertible’ dresses, proved that there is a never-ending approach to th adaptability and showed removable ad over- and underskirts that transform ov a look from day to formal to party. Meanwhile, Hollywood Dreams and M its sister collection, Chic by Hollywood it Dreams presented classically-inspired D collections featuring fitted bodices and co billowing layered skirts with asymmetric bi detailing. Johanna Hehir, whose new d range Mae has been getting rave ra reviews in the press, showed long, re sleek silhouettes that mixed charm sl and elegance, and used pleating, an intricate lace and fine bead detailing in to add sculptural definition. Madeline Isaac-James, a M house that consistently shows h an adventurous design spirit, a
Think movement, think draping, think sensuous folds, and the picture for 2013 is clear; soft, feminine, and seemingly un-structured – it’s a look that only top talents can perfect
introduced a tailored twist with smooth boat necklines, neat little sleeves, small bows and soft lace trains in contrast. MiaMia picked up the applause for slim-line, pared-down silhouettes with intricate shoulder detailing, ruffles and ruching making a style statement. And highlight of the Naomi Neoh collection was the structured bodices giving way to floaty voluminous layered skirts. A selection from The Vintage Wedding Dress Company saw soft draping, antique lace and romantic empireline silhouettes as the core proposition while Terry Fox offered a complete contrast with her signature baroque-inspired structured corsets and full skirts embellished with rock-style jewels in gold, pistachio and pink. international flavours, the final catwalk show at White Gallery London, and one that played to a packed house, featured some top international names. Elizabeth Stuart brought an infusion of colour with delicate honey tones and layers of organza petals and handkerchief hems creating volume and movement; Kerstin Karges of Kisui, the award-winning Berlinbased house, featured complex seaming detail on soft-textured jacquard fabrics in a cool, contemporary collection that modern brides will adore. Lusan Mandongus/Annasul Y used crystal-encrusted soft lace for structured strapless gowns and multi-layered fishtail skirts and had some beautiful pieces of featherlight layerings of tulle, lace and beadworked > www.bridalbuyer.com
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New talents *
Claire Mischevani Hazaar of London KatyaKatya Shehurina Naomi Neoh
* * Sadoni
Couture ßnishes and intricate detailing are key to the designer collections. Exclusive fabrics, and an adventurous interplay of textures and colour, are part of this desirable equation that spells ‘best’
Freya Rose Peter Lang
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Alan Hannah Amanda Wakeley Annasul Y Anny Lin Anoushka G Aruna Seth Augusta Jones Babe Blue Chic by Hollywood Dreams Cymbeline David Fielden Donna Lee Elizabeth Stuart Fara Freya Rose Gatti Nolli Couture Gemy Couture Halo & Co Harriet Wilde Hollywood Dreams Ian Stuart Ivory & Co Jenny Packham Accessories Jesus Peiro Johanna Hehir Katzi Kisui Lea Ann Belter Bridal Linea Raffaelli Little Bevan Lusan Mandongus Lyn Ashworth Madeline Isaac-James Malis Henderson Mia Mia Nicki MacFarlane Novia D’Art Ottavio Nuccio Ozlem Suer Pepe Botella Peter Lang Polly Edwards Rachel Simpson Raimon Bundo Ritva Westenius Sanyukta Shrestha Sarah Janks Sassi Holford Stephanie Allin Stephanie Browne Stewart Parvin Terry Fox The Vintage Wedding Dress Company Victoria Kyriakides Victorio&Lucchino Novias Vivien Sheriff YolanCris
ElizabethParvi Strayrt Stewart n
fabrics while Sanyukta Shrestha, whose work evolves around the eco-friendly fabrics which she sources across the globe, offered an eager audience a spectacular lace coat dress, and a show-stopper gown made up of layers of pleated organza and tulle, interspersed with fan-folds of a 1980s newspaper. Greek designer Victoria Kyriakides showed a brilliantlyinventive group of dresses made of origamistyle folds, pleats and ruffles that form graphic shapes in see-through fabrics while the famous Spanish house, Victorio & Lucchino Novias/ Raimon Bundo included a dramatic flamencoinspired dress in panelled satin edged in lace, and a gown featuring a computerised graphic organza print. the YolanCris look was defined with a dramatic use of trims and embellishments – heavily beaded fringes, ornate lace and macramé, festoons of beaded tulle and an abundance of flowers.
White Gallery London highlights
crystals at Polly Edwards and *Halo‘Golden’ & Co; Ivory& Co’s hair vines that can
Sarah Janks, who is as lovely as her slinky *gowns; Augusta Jones for creating dream
be swirled and twirled into a necklace; Katzi’s polished shell beads; just about everything at Jenny Packham accessories; Stephanie Browne showing that everything is beautiful down under; deco-inspired Babe delights Perfect silhouettes at Jesus Peiro with just a fan of pleats on the bodice; David Fielden’s wonderful folds and ßuidity; Ritva’s sheer elegance; Novia d’Art for its twists and turns of fabric and beautiful touches of lace Harriet Wilde’s pleated lace ßatties (on the have-to-have list); Aruna Seth going royal with red, white and blue; Rachel Simpson’s blush-coloured suede shoes with heels you can really dance in Cymbeline’s white leather biker-bride jackets worn atop soft, girlie gowns So Sassi, the enchanting new label from one of the UK’s favourite designers Gatti Nolli’s lavish lace cocktail frocks in amazing colours Vivien Sheriff, who is brimming over; Malis Henderson, turning heads Kiddies at centre stage, and the best of beautiful British looks from Nicki MacFarlane and Little Bevan
dresses that really sell, Amanda Wakeley who puts a new meaning to elegance Donna Lee’s big rufßy skirts MOB looking very VIP at Linea Raffaelli Pepe Botella’s wondrous choices of gossamer-Ķne fabrics and romantic little details; Ozlem Suer’s hand-made laces and red-carpet looks; Gemy’s way with colour that’s a wow! Menswear from Ottavio Nuccio – very brave and very handsome The new direction at Lyn Ashworth: English country garden meets 50s Hollywood classics Illusion backs, keyhole fronts, slender lacey sleeves; cover-up in tiny boleros of lace or layered rufßes Altered images – gowns that go from short to long, sleeved to strapless The Champagne Bar, for time out, a glass of bubbly and delicious snacks Amazingly gorgeous ßoral displays by Philippa Craddock and Wild About Flowers Conde Nast Brides-sponsored after-hours party at The Collection in Fulham Road Seeing all the big names together
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Fine see-through fabrics appear throughout the 2013 collections, letting an underlay of detail catch the light or change the mood
Accessories at White Gallery were simply sensational, from printed suede shoes at Rachel Simpson, to intricate pearl and crystal beaded headpieces at Polly Edwards and fascinators at Vivien Sheriff
Raiimon Bundo R d
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White Gallery London 2013, Battersea evolution, 19-21 May. for exhibiting details: W event director Wendy Adams +44 (0)1423 770120 / firstname.lastname@example.org e www.bridalbuyer.com
To view our collection please view our website at
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One of the criticisms levelled at bridal retailers is that too many have been using the same, tired-looking display mannequins for years. Stocking gorgeous gowns? Then you want to show them off to best advantage, and there are plenty of great choices out there
elieve iT Or nOT, mannequinS were used to demonstrate fashions as long ago as the 15th century. Since then, they have been made of wickerwork, papier-mache, wax and, in today’s world, every material from polystyrene to wood and fibreglass. Top names include london-based adel rootstein, 50 years in the business and known for its innovative style, plus continental brands such as almax italy and Bonaveri, available in Britain from The vm Source of Stamford and Blue Studio of london Sw6 respectively. “i would say that with bridal, the emphasis has to be on the dress,” says Julia reed from The vm Source. “retailers need to look for a good body shape to present it. mannequins tend to be fairly anonymous – headless, in white or skintone, or matte black. The choice should depend on the style of your shop and the market you’re appealing to. Bust forms are also very popular as you can get a good fit; they also cost less. it’s the same with menswear – a standard male bust carries a suit very well. The main thing is to showcase the merchandise and give it presence.” andrew Carter of Blue Studio agrees that an ideal bridal mannequin is simple rather than edgy or flamboyant. “Ours are ‘abstract’ mannequins, rather than the ‘real’ type with wigs and make up. They allow the gowns to speak for themselves,” he says. “we have sold our Schlappi range to designers like Bruce Oldfield for his bridal range. Simple, elegant, timeless poses work best with bridalwear.” martyn Dalton from Yorkshire Displays makes the very good point that once a figure is dressed in a bridal gown, all that’s visible is the dress – which is as it should be. “Our best-sellers for years have been a traditional tailor’s dummy style, with a polystyrene body and no arms or head, in black or cream, with a wood or metal base. They retail at around £40 so are good value and do the job! what we have noticed is that retailers are buying larger sizes to showcase gowns for the fuller figure,” he says. morplan is one of the biggest names in the display and props business. “Our bridal customers generally favour traditional tailors’ display busts, such as the venice Collection, which is available in a beautiful range of finishes and in male, female and children’s versions, making it easy to create a coherent display that will appeal to the whole wedding party,” says morplan’s Kerry wilson, who also recommends full mannequins for off-the-shoulder gowns and dresses with sleeves or wraps. BB
Cover-up story Tusneem Jabbar is a former bridalwear designer who has found herself with a whole new business, Klassy Covers, producing covers for mannequin forms, in just over a year! "we launched in february 2011 when i literally just stitched some lace onto a bust form at Harrogate," she says. "i wanted to make them more attractive and i found that people really wanted to look! "we started with a small collection, launched at bbeH, and it grew from there. Thirty per cent of our business goes for export now and we are working more towards using full mannequins. it has been a really exciting journey. at first we were selling to independent retailers but then more and more to corporate clients as we have become a bit more cutting-edge. we have done themes, instore promotions... there is always something different. "The response has been brilliant and i am now looking more towards europe and the usa and bigger stores. right now, i don't miss bridal, but i might in the future. i'm the creative director of Klassy Covers and while i need to get our new concept noticed the best place for me is . right here."
At BBEH we launched a small collection. A year later, 30 per cent of our business is export and we are working more with full mannequins
Directory www.adelrootstein.com www.blue-studio-uk.com www.morplan.com www.thevmsource.co.uk www.yorkshiredisplays.co.uk
he TexTile Forum was The brainchild of Pr expert linda laderman, and the uK Fashion Textile association, who jointly recognised that there was a place in the market for a niche exhibition catering to the needs of the small, specialist designers and manufacturers keen to source exciting, exclusive and luxury fabrics. “Basically, there hadn’t been an exhibition of fabrics in the uK for some time, and suppliers wanted a show organised,” says linda. “we were not aiming at the major brands or multiples, but at smaller-scale designers, not only in bridal, but in ready-to-wear and tailoring as well. we wanted to attract individual businesses from all over the country – both well-known designers as well as companies that were perhaps known locally but not nationally – who needed to buy fabric. “There had been shows before, of course, including major events in large exhibition venues, but there was a real gap in the industry for something like Textile Forum, which is very focused. The original companies who were involved were in womenswear. Bridal is a big part of that, and we had a lot of interest from companies specialising in silks.” exhibitors all offer small minimums and many also have stock and short-order fabrics as well as collections for forward order. linda is particularly proud of the way the event has expanded steadily, and organically, while never losing touch with its roots.
Right fRom the staRt
“From the start, it worked, and did what it says on the tin,” she comments. “it’s a two-day show and very straightforward. our exhibitors just have to pack their headers, swatches and rails and they are ready to go! “we built a database and website very quickly even though, ten years ago, it was more unusual 80
The twice-yearly, two-day show brings together suppliers, agents and forwardthinking buyers looking for the newest and most innovative fabric solutions as well as the best of the classics in bridal, groomswear, occasionwear and quality fashion
to have your own website than it is now. we have been settled in the west end venue, The music room, for several years. it has two galleries and we only used one at first, but now both are full with our exhibitors.” linda says that Textile Forum remains a niche market and, whilst the organisers are delighted with the surge of visitors from their core audience, recent shows were attended by representatives from John lewis, house of
Fraser and Topshop, among others. “we probably feature around 35-plus collections from some 26 exhibitors,” she says. “Time is precious, we know, and in a show of that size, everyone can see everything they need to see. we do get a lot of companies offering brial fabrics, like michael’s Bridal Fabrics and Bennett silks. Bridal fabrics sit well alongside evening and cocktail fabrics and, of course, we have exhibitors showing extras like linings, labels,
Celebrating its 10th birthday this year, Textile Forum is london’s most exclusive fashion fabric show, aimed at designers, small to medium-sized manufacturers, dressmakers and retail fabric specialists looking for highquality fashion fabrics from uK and Continental mills
of textile forum buttons and even shirtings and suitings for groomswear. “a high percentage of our exhibitors remains the same. i would say about half of them have exhibited with us at least ten times. however, there is a proportion of new firms each season. our visitors tell us there is always something new to see which keeps the event fresh.” one reason why Textile Forum works so well, linda believes, is because so many exhibitors always offer something new rather than just the basics. “it’s significant that bridalwear designers like to buy short runs,” she says. “some brides still leave it late to decide on their dresses, which may be something to do with the recession. That means buyers need to order from stock and don’t want to have to wait three months. more ‘edgy’ designers might only want to buy a few
metres of fabric.” it seems that, from what the exhibitors tell linda, the current uncertain economic climate hasn’t had a great impact on bridalwear. “i’ve been told that in a recession, dresses just get bigger!” she says. “michael Bristow from michael’s Bridal Fabrics says he certainly hasn’t seen less business. The market is also expanding into other areas such as promwear. our last two shows in october 2011 and march 2012 were busier and attracted more buyers than ever. Because our exhibitors are at the better end and feature quality rather than less-expensive fabrics, we are more recession-proof.”
There have, of course, been a multitude of changes in what’s on offer over the ten years of Textile Forum’s existence, and each one has been
Exhibitors all offer small minimums and many also fabrics as well as r de or tor sh d an k oc st have collections for forward order a clear barometer of trends. “lace has been storming recently, and of course it can also be used in lingerie and for trimmings,” linda says. “unlike ready-to-wear, bridal has tended not to be fashion-forward with fewer peaks and troughs than other design areas. But we are now seeing richer and more unusual colours. Ten years ago the fabric trade was dominated by ivory and white; now we are seeing champagne, soft pink and, for bridesmaids, a wider spread of colours like fuchsia, dark grey and burnt orange. “in fabrics, there’s been a decline in brocade, except for men’s waistcoats, and we’re seeing more duchesse satin and polyester www.bRidalbuyeR.com
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rather than satin-backed dupion. â€œiâ€™m told that designers want to offer a larger selection of elaborate and intricate fabrics that canâ€™t be replicated, which may not be a consideration for manufacturers who are producing thousands of dresses. some of Textile Forum exhibitors are big-name manufacturers, some are distributors, some are agents. some are now having their fabrics produced in the uK as well as France and italy and those are the ranges they bring to the show.â€? what buyers get from the Forum is a friendly welcome and the chance to browse among the collections of a good selection of exhibitors. â€œwe take care of them; weâ€™re easy to find, we provide free refreshments throughout the show and they can wander around in a relaxed atmosphere,â€? says linda. â€œour show takes place just after london Fashion week and offers something for everyone. â€œweâ€™re selective about the companies who exhibit with us and there is a waiting list. weâ€™re also community-minded, running special briefing sessions for fashion students and supporting the charity Fashion and Textile Childrenâ€™s Trust.â€?
linda is understandably proud of everything that the Forum has achieved and says that in the future they plan to concentrate on sustainability rather than rapid expansion. â€œwe are thrilled with the way it has gone and envisage it continuing,â€? she says. â€œThereâ€™s nothing else in the market quite like it. we always wanted to make sure we have a sustainable product as we are aware there are only a certain number of exhibitors who are right for us. The fact that both exhibitors and buyers come back again and again says it all. we add some new people every time and concentrate on showing exciting collections and offering good service. â€œi donâ€™t feel that the economic climate has impacted on us. we do seem to have attracted bigger retailers simply because everybody needs to know who is doing what, whether they are from the high street multiple, a department store or an independent designer. our audience has expanded as the industry has changed. store groups are often looking at producing their own labels now. â€œThe Forum isnâ€™t necessarily about putting down orders then and there; itâ€™s about seeing everyoneâ€™s collections, perhaps looking at swatches and then doing business. of course, the Kate and will factor has helped to keep the industry buoyant. â€œwe promote Textile Forum constantly through our own website and also on Facebook and Twitter. iâ€™m always available to answer queries, too. Together with the website, we are a fabric resource 52 weeks a year!â€? BB
make a date
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The nexT TexTile Forum will be held on 17-18 October, at The music room. exhibitors will include Acorn Fabrics; Alan litman ltd; basinghall uK; belinac of France; bennett Silks; bernstein & banleys; bradshaw & bradshaw; Carrington Fleet Textiles; eQS; Forster rohner; G h leathers; Graham Smith Fabrics; henry bertrand; holland & Sherry Group; insley & nash; J T Knitting; James hare; John boyd Textiles; John Kaldor; Johnstons of elgin; laurent Garigue Partnership; michaelâ€™s bridal Fabrics; neill Johnstone; Pongees; reid & Taylor; ringhart; ruffo Coli Tessuti; Schwarzschild ochs; Solstiss; The national weaving Company; The woolmark Company; Tiss et Teint For further information www.textileforum.co.uk
If you buy fabrics, this is an event you cannot afford to miss for the sheer choice on offer
Kiss the Frog Bridal
7 Bridal Gowns for the price of 6* At Kiss The Frog we believe in Good old fashioned “Customer Service”. We will always go that extra mile to help you and your brides, and the quality of our gowns match our high level of service. We look forward to meeting you at Harrogate, or call us to arrange a visit from our representative. *Offer available for new orders from 3rd July until the end of the Bridal Buyer Exhibition in Harrogate on September 11th 2012
Telephone: 01255 436089 Email: email@example.com Web: www.kissthefrogbridal.co.uk
PERFECTION – what brides expect on their big day, what bridal retailers ensure for the perfect dress. PROPRESS – the steaming brand that delivers on both. Some may say a marriage made in heaven!
For expert advice, news, industry gossip and the latest fashion stories plus an indispensible directory of bridal industry suppliers, go online today at
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it’s yoUr business
Business things you should know
Our latest round-up of advice to keep you well informed
Allison Cook of law ¼rm Veale Wasbrough Vizards, looks at the impact of changes in employment law Unfair dismissals
One of the most newsworthy changes is the increase in the qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims from one to two years. The new two-year qualifying period will only apply to employees who commence employment on or after 6 April 2012; the one-year qualifying period will still apply to those employed before this date. The Conservative Government raised the qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims from one to two years in 1985, Labour lowered it back to one year in 1999 and the qualifying period was once as little as six months. There are differing opinions in relation to the likely success of the change. Many feel that the increased period will lead to employees pursuing claims such as whistleblowing and discrimination where the employee is not required to have a qualifying period of employment.
EmploymEnt tribUnal fEEs
One of the biggest bug bears for employers is that there are no costs involved in the issuing of Employment Tribunal claims and as such, no barrier to lodging claims irrespective of their merit or otherwise. The Government recognised this and launched its consultation on tribunal fees on 14 December 2011. Two different-fee charging structures have been proposed. The first option is the charging of an issue and a hearing fee, which could range from £150 to £250 and £250 to £1,250 repectively. The second option would be payment of an issue fee only. This would range from £200 to £1,750. The proposed changes are significant, particularly as the initial issue fee is higher than many others in the County Court – the issue fee for recovery of a debt of £3,000-£5,000 is only £120, for example. Some contend that the level of proposed tribunal fees will discourage genuine claims in the tribunal. The consultation closed on 6 March 2012, with a view to introducing the fees from 2013-14.
dEposits and costs
A further change introduced on 15 February 2012 is that a tribunal judge will be able to order a party to pay a deposit order of £1,000 (the previous maximum was £500). If an employment judge considers that all or part of a claim has little reasonable prospect of success at a pre-hearing review, he or she may make a deposit order as a condition to continue with the claim. The aim of the increase is to deter
claimants from continuing with frivolous, tenuous claims. Costs orders are not the norm in tribunal hearings. They are used where the tribunal believes that a party or their representative has acted in a vexatious, disruptive or abusive manner in bringing or conducting the claim. As the Government is keen to discourage vexatious claims, the maximum costs order a tribunal can award increased on 6 April from £10,000 to £20,000.
incrEasEs in awards
There is some good news for claimants. Tribunal awards increased on 1 February 2012. The maximum award for an unfair dismissal claim has been increased from £68,400 to £72,300 for dismissals that occur on or after 1 February 2012. The maximum limit on a week’s pay has also been increased from £400 to £430. Rates of statutory maternity pay, adoption pay and paternity pay rose from £128.73 to £135.45 per week on 9 April 2012. Statutory sick pay increased from £81.60 to £85.85 per week.
From 1 October 2012 employers will face new duties in relation to employee pensions. In particular, auto-enrolment of employees into qualifying pension schemes will begin with the aim of ensuring that employees do not miss out on valuable pension benefits offered by employers. Auto-enrolment will be staged with the largest employers first in October 2012 and will continue in stages with small employers with 50 or less employees joining between 1 June 2015 and 1 April 2017. New employers will have staging dates between May 2017 and February 2018. Employers can choose the qualifying scheme they use, but it must meet minimum standards in respect of the benefits it provides or the amount of contributions paid into it. Employers will have to either make a minimum 3% contribution towards a defined benefit scheme or offer membership of a defined benefit scheme. Auto-enrolment will cover workers aged between 22 and State Pension age and who earn above the income tax personal allowance (£8,105 in 2012/13). Contributions will be payable on earnings between £5,035 and £33,540. Employees who have been automatically enrolled can opt out of the scheme. Given the raft of proposed and implemented changes to employment law introduced by this Government, it certainly can’t be accused of sitting on its laurels in this area. It will be interesting to see whether the changes implemented achieve the desired results. BB >
One of the most newsworthy changes is the increase in the qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims from one to two years
simply the best
+ AwArds 2o13
The 2013 Bridal Buyer Awards programme will introduce 17 categories, with greater opportunities than ever for suppliers and retailers to scoop one of the coveted titles at the big ceremony next March. Advice and suggestion about producing the perfect entry will feature in the next issue of Bridal Buyer
The 2o13 categories
The ReTaileR awaRds Best Bridal Retailer North Best Bridal Retailer South Best Groomswear Retailer UK Best New Bridal Retailer Best Retail Website
The supplieR awaRds
Best Bridal Manufacturer Best Groomswear Manufacturer/Supplier Best Bridesmaid Collection Best Prom Collection Best Occasionwear Collection Best Bridal Headdress Designer British Bridal Designer of the Year Best Plus Size Collection Best Shoe Collection Best Fabric Supplier
The special awaRds Best Student Designer Wedding Dress of the Year
Finalists noti4cation Entrants who have made it to the ﾃ地al line-up will be informed by email by 7 January 2013.
The entry process Entry forms and details of category criteria will be downloadable at www.bridalbuyer.com/awards from 1 September 2012. The closing date is 28 November 2012. Entries received after that date cannot be included.
The judging process
There will be a number of judging panels: A 7-member panel comprising suppliers, a member of the media and a trade association representative will judge the north and south retailer awards. Secret shopper and spot checks may be included. A 3-member team made up of web experts will judge the Best Retail Website category. A 7-member team of retailers, media and a trade association representative will judge the supplier awards. The British Bridal Designer of the Year will again be the designer who has been selected by no less than 20 of his/her peers. The Best Student Designer is judged by sponsor Ian Stuart and Susi Rogol of Bridal Buyer. The Wedding Dress of the Year will be voted for online with consumers picking their favourite of the ﾃ地alist gowns at the National Wedding Show website.
* * * * * *
The Awards Night
hall ofrtedFinathem201e2 Awards programme, any company or individual who hasChawonrlesthe. same title In an initiative sta joining founder John the Awards Hall of Fame, into ve mo will rs yea e for three consecutiv I V O R Y & C O. as & Je wellery E xquisite Tiar
Brides Protection Scheme
The Bridal Buyer Awards will take place in Harrogate on Monday 11 March, during BBEH, at the Harrogate Exhibition Centre. The glittering event, attended by more than 600 guests representing all sectors of our industry, is a highlight of the year. For sponsorship enquiries contact Wendy Adams on +44 (0)1423 770120 / firstname.lastname@example.org
it’s yoUr business
HMRC, you and Real Time
You need to know about Real Time Information (RTI), a project launched by the Government to overhaul the way PAYE works. Jason Piper, Technical Manager for Tax and Business Law at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, explains
AYE hAS bEEN wITh uS SINCE 1944 whEN it was set up to aid collection of taxes during the Second world war. however, changes in work patterns, payment patterns and the sheer volume of information handled by the system have left it straining to cope. PAYE was designed to run on paper. Reconciling all the information by hand used to take months, and until very recently it took many weeks even on computers, as there were over a dozen different systems running around the country which couldn’t automatically cross check against each other. what’s worse, as computers took over the processing of the information, tiny errors and inconsistencies that a human would have simply ignored or amended became a major stumbling block. If the person known to hMRC from their old job as Anthony Smith of Rose Drive was put down on the PAYE form for the new position as Tony Smith of Rose Dv. then the system could not tie the two of them up and he’d end up with two separate records. however, hMRC now have a single computer able to handle all the PAYE records for the whole country and they can process the year-end information in just two or three days. but to really get the best out of it, the system needs the information faster and in a more consistent format.
The case for change is strong, but the proposed timetable has raised a few eyebrows. PAYE is a hugely important part of the uK tax system and the business environment. The process of implementing RTI has to be complete by October 2013 and the next PAYE year that businesses open will need to be RTI-ready. The reason for the rush is the overhaul of the benefits system, and the introduction by Department of work and Pensions (DwP) of the universal Credit. Running that properly will need accurate, detailed information about the tax and National Insurance position of every person in the country receiving any type of benefit, and that means getting the PAYE records right. universal Credit is due to go live in October 2013, so DwP need the systems feeding information in to them to be up and running by then.
how this affEcts yoU
what you need to do depends on who runs your payroll. If you use an outside specialist or bookkeeper to submit your returns, you need to make sure they’re up to speed. Talk to them now about who is going to do what and when. It will do no harm to agree in writing who has to provide the information, and what the best way to do it is, whether that means using an Excel spreadsheet or a handwritten form.
If you do your own payroll, then you’ll need to take care of things yourself. Software providers have been working closely alongside hMRC to try and establish what needs to change and what can be kept. The P45 is an example – investigating how businesses would operate the new system highlighted the fact that both the departing employee and the new employer still required all the information held on the current form, even if hMRC didn’t need it on paper anymore. hMRC are upgrading their free software (available if you’ve nine or fewer employees) and software firms are running pilot programs across the country with 300 employers from April 2012, another 1,300 from July 2012 and up to 250,000 from November 2012.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do is tidy your payroll data. because the new system is totally computer driven, it won’t be tolerant of variations and will spit out any inconsistent information as being wrong; you shouldn’t be submitting records in the name of AN Other, or A Student anyway (thousands still do according to hMRC records). At the very least, you’ll need the NI number, date of birth and ‘official’ name (ie Anthony J Smith, rather than just Tony Smith) for each employee to give the hMRC system a chance to match up different records. It’s worth bearing in mind that if you regularly get your RTI submissions returned you’re likely to move up hMRC’s ‘at risk’ register for a PAYE visit, and with monthly returns they’ll get a much quicker idea of whether you’re having problems than under the old annual system. Once you’ve put the data into the payroll software it’s not going to change. The system will want to know how many hours have been worked by each employee in the pay period – this may not be a problem if everyone is on fixed hours, and paid well above NMw, but if you’ve got many part-time workers on the payroll you’ll need to look at how you get that information correctly into the system. On the plus side, the year-end forms (P35, P14a and P38As) will no longer be needed, and you won’t need to send P45s to hMRC, or complete a P46. Employees will still need a P60, and expenses and benefits will still need to be reported on a P11D/P11(b) though. Reporting will be more frequent, but the new system has been designed so that software will do most of the work. It’s worth bearing in mind that it won’t just be your employees who lose out if their tax and NICs records are wrong. In 2011, hMRC introduced a controversial new set of ‘in year’ penalties for PAYE record keeping failures, and while there’s likely to be some sort of soft landing for issues relating to the RTI system, as there have been for VAT online filing and the new iXbRL reporting regime for companies, relying on that is a dangerous game to play. The new penalties can quickly run into thousands (for larger businesses, that’s tens of thousands) and you’ll still have to spend the time sorting out your records after spending the > cash on the penalty. BB
Tidy up your payroll data; the new system is computer-driven and will spit out any inconsistent information as being wrong
9-11 SEPTEMBER 2012
BRITISH BRIDAL EXHIBITION HARROGATE
SPRING/SUMMER 2013 The UKâ€™s largest bridal trade show attracting over 3,700 buyers including many international visitors Browse and buy from over 350 collections for Spring/Summer 2013
PRE-REGISTER TODAY AT WWW.BBEH.CO.UK
it’s yoUr business
what rights do individUals havE?
A practical guide to Data Protection for business
HM Revenue and Customs’ loss of the details of 25 million tax records in 2007 and the £140,000 penalty handed to Midlothian Council in January 2012 for five serious data protection breaches, indicates the need to understand data protection says Liz Fitzsimons a Senior Associate at Eversheds LLP what is data protEction?
In a nutshell, it’s the protection of information about people and respecting their rights in relation to that information. There are plenty of laws that apply to businesses using personal data, but in the uK the main ones to consider are the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) and the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 (PECR). human Rights laws and confidentiality may also be relevant.
what is pErsonal data?
Information which on its own or when combined with other information held relates to, and identifies, a living individual. Personal data can be about staff, customers, and individuals at suppliers. It may range from name and address to email addresses and credit card payment records. Some information should be treated with extra care due to the harm or distress that may be caused if it is lost, damaged or misused. This could be because the details relate to certain protected types of information such as health or religion (called ‘sensitive personal data’), or because they carry other risks of damage or distress (such as identity theft or fraud from lost bank account details). If you decide what data to collect, what to use it for and how to use it – say as an employer handling staff records – you are the ‘data controller’ and must comply with the DPA.
what yoU mUst do to comply
Your use of individual’s details must be fair, lawful and justified. Normal personal data can be used to the extent necessary to perform a contract with the individual concerned; sensitive personal data may be used to the extent necessary to comply with an employment related legal obligation. Make sure you have an up-to-date notification (summarising your personal data use) with the DPA regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), and renew it each year. There is guidance on the ICO’s website about this. breach is a criminal offence. You cannot normally use the details for new reasons without going back to the individuals to obtain consent. You should only have the details that are adequate for the agreed use. You must keep your records accurate. You cannot keep personal data indefinitely but only so long as necessary for the agreed purpose. Individuals have rights with which you must comply. You must keep data secure from unauthorised access, misuse, corruption or loss. have security and data protection policies and train staff to understand.
* * * * * *
The person about whom you hold information is known as the ‘data subject’ and they have various rights. The most important is that the data subject can write to a data controller and (for £10) find out whether you process their personal data. If you do, they can obtain a copy of almost all of their data and find out its sources, its recipients and what you use it for. This is known as a subject access request (SAR). This right can be enforced through the courts. All these rights carry strict timescales and you must deal with them promptly. Individuals who feel aggrieved about the use of their personal data can complain to the ICO. They can also sue you for unlimited amounts for damage (and distress) from breach of the DPA.
You must secure the data through, for example, locked rooms and cabinets, shredding facilities, firewalls and virus protection. The details and level of security will depend on your business, its resources, available technology and equipment, the data concerned and its proposed use. More protection is needed for sensitive personal data. If you have this on a mobile device such as a laptop, it must be encrypted. Likewise, if you want to email personal data, it should be encrypted. where you outsource to a data processor, say a payroll service, you remain responsible for their use of your personal data. by law you must have a written contract with your processor which must contain mandatory terms set by the DPA and other terms recommended by the ICO. In particular, be very careful about disclosing or sharing personal data. Doing so is at your risk (normally even if to the police) and must comply with the DPA.
if you decide what data to collect and what to use it for – say as an employer handling staff records – you are the ‘data controller’ and must comply with the Data Protection Act
if sEcUrity is brEachEd?
You must deal quickly to stop any ongoing breach or any repeat of the breach. You must investigate and find out how many people were affected; what the breach was; where it happened; why it happened and what type of information was affected. You need to consider whether to report any such breach to the ICO. Although not a legal obligation, it is expected by the ICO in serious cases and it may aggravate enforcement action if you did not report and the ICO believes you should have done. You also need to consider whether to inform affected individuals. There is normally no legal obligation to do so. however, in serious cases, this should be considered to try to minimise the risks to them. Consider also careful monitoring of accounts to prevent fraud. If the breach comes to the attention of the ICO, they are likely to investigate. If serious, they may take a variety of actions including an audit and a monetary penalty notice or civil fine for certain serious breaches of the DPA principles which can be up to £500,000. All these are made public. Visit the ICO’s website www.ico.gov.uk where there is a great deal of helpful guidance and explanation. BB www.bridalbUyEr.com
THE LUXURY WEDDING SHOW LONDON LONDON’S PREMIER WEDDING EVENT 20–21 OCTOBER 2012 SOMERSET HOUSE
Luxury in every detail. The Luxury Wedding Show London is unique in attracting the most discerning bride and groom looking to create their exquisite wedding. Bridal and accessories designers are now invited to apply. For more information on the application process please contact us on email@example.com or on 020 7772 8319
A social chat
every bridal shop owner knows that word of mouth is the best advertising money can’t buy, but not many realise that your satisfied customers can now broadcast the message to all your potential customers by social networking, says Chris Partridge
ocial networking sounds scarily technological but it isn’t – think of it as the ability to chat to all your brides, their mothers, bridesmaids and friends at once. and the exchanges can be read by newly-engaged girls round the area who might be tempted to buy from a shop owner as knowledgeable, helpful, friendly and sharply-priced as you are. the first thing to do is add an online journal called a blog to your website. a blog is where you announce new gowns, publicise sales and other events. nothing livens up a static webpage better than a recentlyupdated blog. it demonstrates that your shop is thriving, that you are dynamic and open for business. if you can manage a few lively, interesting and funny blog posts, that will show them what kind of boutique you are. Blogging is mostly a one-way medium, for you to send messages to all, but it is a very good idea to encourage comments on your posts, though you should look at each comment before publication to ensure nobody is using it for spam or bullying (known as ‘trolling’). the next step is to get on to Facebook. the setup process is simple and free. add a few photographs to add a personal touch. Facebook is more conversational. want to say how exited your are about a new gown that has just arrived, or simply that the weather is looking good for one of your brides’ wedding today? Facebook is the place to say it. Finally, twitter. twitter messages are famously short and immediate, the persiflage of social networking. you can tweet using you mobile phone as quickly as you can text, so it is possible to update your clients from on the road – say you have discovered a great new venue you can send a tweet with a picture instantly. the main fear people have of social networking is how to deal with negative comments. what do you do if a client is critical of your service? openness is best. if you have fallen short of your usual standards, apologise immediately (preferably within minutes), offer appropriate recompense and take the comment offline for detailed discussion. even if you feel the criticism is unfair, explain the situation courteously. and remember that even negative comments have an upside – brides who see you dealing with the situation swiftly and fairly will be reassured that you sincerely believe in customer service. you will even find that, if you have been
fostering your community of brides, many will leap to your defence. andrew Pearce at bridal shop creatiques in southsea is a big fan of social networking. “anyone who doesn’t use social networking is mad – it is free advertising,” he says. “we get 30 to 50 enquiries a week through Facebook, and our business has become a lot bigger because of social networking – people are prepared to travel to our shop because they know us through Facebook or twitter.” one of the big advantages of social networking over traditional promotion is that you can see exactly what impact each post has. “when the windows are changed every month we take pictures and tease the girls a little saying we have exiting new dresses coming in and we do get feedback from that, girls asking when they will be in and what designer they are,” Pearce says. “when we posted the picture of the gown that’s in the window now, we had 26 likes, eight comments and five bookings from that Facebook post.” the comments left by brides are an essential endorsement. “they are real people, not just us writing about us, they are brides talking about their experiences coming into the shop,” Pearce says. “Brides send us pictures of their weddings and we post them on the website, Facebook and twitter. it is a great way of showing potential customers what we actually do.” establishing a personal connection with your social networking contacts is best done personally, but some proprietors find the job too time consuming and delegate. “i know companies that have people designated to do social networking but we do it whenever we get a break, posting a tweet that might say we have just had a lovely bride in and we are very exited about the dress she has chosen or something – it is all about creating that social buzz by adding that post,” Pearce advises. “we update all the time so people don’t get bored. For major posts we tend to hit either first thing in the morning or after half past seven at night because those are the times most people are online.” BB
A big advantage of social networking is that you can see exactly what impact each post has
one-day courses in the skills and techniques of effective social networking are widely available.
new products disgo9104 tablet *computer The 9104 is perfect for surĶng the web via its wiĶ connection. The screen is the same one used in the iPad2, but there the similarities end. It uses the Android system, is lighter than the iPad, its memory can be expanded using micro-SD cards (unlike the iPad) and it has an HDMI slot so it can be attached to a big TV. The the price is astonishingly low – £180. seagate backup plus A monster hard disc (up to three terabytes) in a slim, stylish package which comes with software to automate backup in a very easy way. A new feature is the ability to back up everything from your Facebook page so you don’t lose valuable pictures and information from your social network. Prices start at £70 for 500GB, rising to £135 for 3TB. VJabra clipper Wireless Clipper afĶxes to your lapel and links to your mobile or MP3 player by Bluetooth. The earphones plug into the Clipper with a standard jack socket, so you can use your favourites instead. When connected to a phone, the Clipper goes mute to allow you to take calls easily and resume listening when you have hung up. £25.
The Vintage Wedding Dress Company at White Mischief Bridal
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A question of law
raj dhokia of solicitors Freedman Green Dhokia looks at the issues that may be affecting your business. Questions will be answered in the first possible issue of Bridal Buyer and shown online at www.bridalbuyer.com
want to give my long-standing manager a percentage of profits after expenses, by way of a thank you and on-going. to save costs, can i simply draft a letter and get it signed off by a local solicitor? i would just like her to feel she had some form of protection in place if anything were to happen to me.
It is unlikely that any solicitor would simply sign a letter drafted by you without considering whether you have arrived at the best why of achieving your objectives. You should also consider whether you will expect your manager to take on more responsibility in return for a higher remuneration. There will be various factors you will need to consider and this is something that will need to be discussed with your legal advisor. i am a small manufacturer and have been in business in the UK for over 15 years. i recently had some delivery problems but informed all of my stockists that there would be a delay. only one cancelled her order. i have since heard that a particular online forum which is accessible only to retailers, has been carrying derogatory postings about me and my company. do i have a legal right to be able to see – and respond to – what is being said? If someone is posting comments about your company online which are false, you do have a right to respond. But, before you can take action, you firstly must identify who the writer of the statement is; and secondly, you must prove that the statements are false and written with the intention of causing damage to your business reputation. However, identifying the writer of a statement which is posted online can prove difficult, especially as you do not have access to this particular website. You could contact the owner of the website and request access to posts that relate to your business. If the comments are false and damaging to your business reputation then the website owner can be forced to remove the posts. Website owners can be held liable for content which is posted on their websites and there are also circumstances whereby they can be required to reveal the identity of individuals posting defamatory comments. This is particularly the case in respect of online forums. However, you will need to seek independent legal advice if you wish to pursue this matter any further. i recently contracted with a professional to have gowns from the different collections i stock photographed. the
w session has taken place but the photographer is now saying that we didn’t negotiate usage fees – i want to use the images for local advertising, in-store display, Pr and online. He has sent me contact images only and is now saying he will not release the pictures until i agree to pay extra charges. i don’t know what to do and right now i am missing one opportunity for exposure after the other. where do i stand? Copyright laws state that photographers obtain automatic design rights to their work. Usually if you wish to use the photographs taken by a specific photographer, then you will need to ask the photographer to sign a Licence to Assign their artistic rights to those particular photographs to you, so that you are able to use them without giving rise to infringement. However where a photograph is taken during the course of employment then the first owner of the photographs is the photographer’s employer. This is the default position unless you have entered into an agreement to state otherwise. Before paying the extra charges that the photographer is requesting, it is highly recommended that you seek independent legal advice to see whether you already own the rights to the photographs, in which case you will then be able to work out the best course of action. i am about to open a shop and am unclear about the necessary insurances needed – everyone i speak to tells me something different. also, do i need separate male/ female toilets (can’t imagine i will have many chaps visiting!) and what about staff/customers? The type of insurance you will need depends on the specific nature of your business. For example, whether you will run the shop yourself or intend to employ staff. There is a wide range of factors to be taken into consideration, which is why you are getting a wide range of opinions from people you have spoken to. You should seek professional advice on this matter to ensure you take out the right type of insurance for your business. However you are likely to need employers’ liability insurance which will help you meet the cost of compensation for injuries to any of your employees whilst they are carrying out their job. You may wish to take out public liability insurance which covers your liability to pay damages to members of the public for injury or damage to their property. As you have a shop you may wish to take out contents cover to insure your stock against theft or damage. If the premises have large glass windows or signs then you can take out cover to provide replacement of the same following malicious or accidental damage. In terms of your query about toilets, this depends on the number of staff you have. You need to provide enough toilets and washbasins for those expected to use them – including disabled toilets. Health and safety guidelines state that where possible, separate male and female facilities should be provided. BB
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StafÑng matters teamwork is what pulls the retail equation together. training is key says Abi Neill
ou only have to mention the word ‘staff’ to other going-grey bridal business owners (anyone know if it really is counterproductive to pluck them?) to be told that trying to recruit, train, motivate and manage a brilliant shop team can be a real challenge. add to that having to ensure that your seamstresses are technically on the ball and polite at all times, including difficult times, and it’s easy to see that a business’s personnel are potentially capable of curbing ambition! years ago i once employed an agency temp to cover our shop phones and help with admin. temps are an expensive commodity, and come in a variety of shapes and colours! the agency said she was: “bright, bubbly, a little quirky but with an excellent telephone manner”. When she arrived hilariously i learnt that the ‘bright’ reference was the pink mohican hairstyle and ‘quirky’ was the multiple tongue and eyebrow piercings. apparently there were more (piercings not pink haired temps). Suffice to say temps are my least favourite method of staff cover. i’m very fortunate to have a fantastic team now. i genuinely believe that you do get back from your staff what you put in. in short; get serious about your staff and your staff will get serious about you!
your staff are as important to your business as your customers. treat them with care and respect and nurture them. if they’re problematic you need to move them on before too much damage is done (see below my brief bit on ‘when it goes wrong’). here are a few recruitment tips: Spend money on a recruitment ad in the local paper, you’ll attract applicants who are probably of a higher-quality than if you just pop a card in your shop window. Cvs posted without a covering letter should be filed in the bin? Conduct scripted telephone interviews – they help suss out the candidates who would “love to work in a bridal shop because it’s so glam-rus, girlie n’ romantic”; these girls will soon get the picture when you start talking late nights, steaming, cleaning and back-to-back appointments. Break the news gently to them that you don’t get to play dress-up all day whilst slurping coffee and that your 54-inch satin-trimmed veils are not uniform. But do explain what an absolute privilege it is to help style your customers for the most
* * *
important day of their lives! Be formal about your recruitment and training processes; issue all necessary documentation to new staff including a job description and application form. offer the position subject to references and send an offer letter, contract and copy of your disciplinary and grievance policy. We also send a copy of our health and safety document, our mission statement and a personalised training manual. yes, a lot of paperwork but it demonstrates that we’re serious about who we employ and in turn i believe it encourages an increased sense of responsibility that the staff have to our business and customers. never mix business with pleasure by employing friends. trust your instincts: if something doesn’t feel right, chances are it’s not. it’s tempting to rate an applicant’s bridal sales experience over personality but an enthusiastic approach by someone willing to learn is more of an asset than someone who knows the difference between dupioni and shantung.
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a successful business depends on a well-trained, knowledgeable and enthusiastic team and in order to stay motivated your staff will require your time and attention. on Saturday after work our team went out for supper together and enjoyed a few cocktails: it was a fab night and good to see staff let their hair down after a long week. Sometimes you must find ways to say “well done”. Get Buying Together trade shows like BBeh and White Gallery provide a great opportunity to spoil staff and involve them with the buying decisions. Some retailers are insecure enough to believe that by introducing staff to BBeh they will inevitably start their own bridal business. if that happens, congratulate yourself – it’s the highest form of flattery and like me you’ve obviously made it look easy, though i think there’s more to be gained than risked from including staff at such events. Get Appraising to any novice employer i’d suggest implementing strict three-month probationary periods for new starters followed by their first formal appraisal. annual staff appraisals thereafter are also essential; they provide a framework within which you can formally discuss their development, sales and conversion rates and give them an opportunity to tell you how happy (or unhappy) they are
Your staff are as important to your business as your customers. Treat them with care and respect
manaGinG and motivatinG
with the job, their colleagues etc. GetTalking hold regular staff meetings so that you can team talk about customers, business ideas and sales. Share with the team your business ambitions in terms of sales conversion rates and sales targets. Get Training Plan some training days when you talk product, share ideas on latest wedding day themes and looks, scan through wedding magazines, brainstorm on new marketing ideas. Celebrate your training day auccess: stick the kettle on, kick your shoes off, order a pizza and cakes! Get Rewarding many bridal shops pay commission on sales and it can be a highly effective tool. Personally i prefer the idea of an annual bonus scheme. if you decide on a commission system then you must track sales and reward staff fairly to avoid competitive discontent. alternatively you could set team-orientated targets with relative rewards. Whatever you decide, you need to let the staff know when they are doing a great job and help them stay positive when they don’t achieve their usual sales.
when it Goes wRonG
never forget that employees have rights with or without a written contract and far more if they have been in your employment for over a year. Before responding to a difficult employee problem seek formal advice about the situation. Pick up the phone to aCaS (www.acas.org. uk) before things get complicated and they will help you understand the options and legalities. i’ve faced the dilemma, once over a bad attitude and once over significant under-sales performance. my life was made easier by their resignations. in both cases business and team morale literally blossomed as a result. as you can see, i consider staff to be a serious business matter. you know that saying about swans that gracefully glide across water despite feet paddling at a million miles an hour below the surface? Someone recently complimented me by saying that they thought i was a bit like a swan. i laughed and suggested that at times i’m probably more like a hyperactive quacking duck. BB
Abi Neill owns the award-winning Abigail’s Collection & The Groom’s Room in Colchester. You can follow her tweets@AbigailsColl or contact her on +44 (0)1206 574575