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November/December / 12 Issue 153



the 2013 trAde events thAt Are geAred to your needs


getting right up there in the rAnKings

A rIot or a rIsk?

un-regulAted Forums Are A threAt to your Business

* BBeh *


your FAvourite Finds At the uK’s Biggest And Best shoW

f loral displays everything’s coming up roses

* new labels * essential gizmos * retail success stories * festive spirit *



T: 0 18 29 7 5 2 1 92


W: w w w. d i a n e h a rb r i d g e . c o m


E : i n fo @ d i a n e h a rb ri d g e .c o m

Contents n/d.12


From the editor ONE COMMENT frOM retailers that we are hearing over and over again, is that there is no longer a buying ‘norm’ among brides-to-be and that months that were once the busiest can be quiet, while what used to be slow periods are suddenly becoming more active. That’s all the more reason to ensure that your stock is regularly refreshed with new additions, that displays are changed frequently, and that both in-store promotions and website activity are designed to create a lively level of repeat interest. What is worth noting in particular, is that trends vary across the country (see our feature on page 42), so it is important that you look at your own local audience and cater to their specific needs and tastes. And when it comes to Search Engine Optimisation and getting up there in the Google ratings, see page 60. Now is the time for all of us to play up our strengths. Happy year end.






GOiNG Girlie Swarbrick’s takes brides on board


TOP TiPS Grabbing ways to self-promote


ThrOuGh The deCadeS From true vintage to vintage style


NaTiONwide Coast-to-coast buying habits


haPPy FaMilieS Could you work alongside your folks, your spouse, your inlaws, your sprogs? Mmm…


FiGure iT OuT Designer tips on the perfect Ķt... and a bit of camoußage when needed


COVer STOry GOOGle-eyed How to get up there in the rankings


SeaSON’S GreeTiNGS Decorations for a bit of festive spirit


a biT OF deCOruM A new name, but well-established labels


haNNah hOTTer The fan-club grows – with good reason


hellO TO heriTaGe Three generations of bridal talent come together to form a new label


a wiNNiNG FOrMula The six contenders for the Wedding Dress of the Year title. Place your bets now!

Show business 18

COVer STOry harrOGaTe SPeCialS Favourite Ķnds at the September show


COVer STOry The year ahead The key shows planned for 2013


whiTe Gallery lONdON On the drawing board for next May


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.

Back Issues If you would like to purchase back issues please call us on 020 8955 7040 or email

COVer STOry OPiNiON The dangers of un-regulated forums


editor Susi Rogol 020 7193 8535 Editorial Ofßce 14 Bracknell Gate, London NW3 7EA Design Kim Colley Proof Reader Clive Burton Group Ad Sales Manager Nardene Smith 020 7772 8317 nardene.smith@ Production Ronnie McGibbon 020 7772 8388 Marketing Executive Carina Hunter 020 7772 8596 Subscriptions Alliance 020 8955 7040 Publishing & Marketing Director Judith Sutton 020 7772 8393 Head of Bridal Wendy Adams 01423 770120 Printers Printech Europe

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.



74 68


Need-TO-kNOw NewS


yOu & yOur webSiTe


ON The PhONe


buSiNeSS uPdaTe


The iT deParTMeNT


leGal MaTTerS


baCk PaGe Girl


news don’t miss...

NEWS… you need to know

People to congratulate, new collections to celebrate, diary dates for the year ahead, all the news that adds buzz to the business. Read it here first, and check for regular updates

Harrogate numbers Visitor figures at BBeH are ABC-veri¼ed and the information that number-analysis provides gives a valuable insight into market trends. The September show, for example, welcomed 1,654 bridalwear shops, just six shops fewer than at the autumn show in 2011, which is remarkable in view of the undercurrent of caution in this economic climate. What is particularly interesting, is that with changes in ‘busy’ periods in bridal retailing, more and more shops feel it is important (as well as costef¼cient) to keep their doors open and shops staffed, whereas a few years ago it was not uncommon for the whole sales team to take part in the browsing and buying process and Harrogate.

t counts “It is not the footfall tha it is the number of retailers

represented, and BBEH consistently delivers those wer.” with buying po “It is not the footfall that counts”, says Ocean Media’s Marketing Head of Marketing Judith Sutton, “it is the number of retailers represented, and BBEH consistently delivers those with buying power.” Retailers are quick to agree. A shop owner from the Midlands, in Harrogate with her manager, said that she used to bring three and sometimes four members of her team to BBEH. “Now I just bring one to each show. It saves me money and, quite honestly, it saves me time, too. I can make those selection decisions far quicker when they are not ‘by committee’”. On page 51 of this issue, you will read about Ocean Media’s exhibition strategy for 2013.

At the Ķrst-ever Luxury Wedding Show London, staged at the Saatchi gallery at the end of october, an audience of elite bridesto-be viewed the new collections from some of the world’s most exclusive labels. representing the very best of British design were Vivien Westwood, amanda Wakeley, david Fielden and Temperley London while, through retailer Brown’s Bridal, came Vera Wang, Monique Lhuillier, Carolina Herrara, celebrities’ favourite marchesa, and rome-based designer Peter Langer, among others. Supporting the sumptuous fashion offering were Ķne names in occasionwear, groomswear, accessories, ßowers and luxury venues.

Thinking Europe? Meet the woman who can make it happen Siegrid HampSink-goSSo is the person you want to talk to if you are planning to broaden your sales network into Continental europe. promoted to event director of the annual modatex Fair in essen – europe’s largest bridal show with more that 450 collections – Siegrid is now in charge of sales and planning. Working with her are operations manager Heleen van den aker, marketing executive Helena kischa, and the ocean media Uk support team. For exhibiting enquires contact Siegrid on +49 (0)2821 976 213 /

Spanish firm Jesus Peiro is launching a new collection of stunning accessories, designed by the talented Merche Segarra. it is divided into four distinct groups – veils, textiles, headdresses and accessories – and every one has its own personality. White Gallery is the place to see them, in May, at Battersea Evolution

For Oz, with love ove In the Designer Hall at Harrogate, Australian brand Halo Bridal Design got plenty of attention. A leading label on its home ground for some 26 years, Halo planned its European entry with great care, fusing the latest trends of both continents. Sizes range from 6-28 and SRP from £1,200 to £3,500. This is one to watch +356 2733 2006 /

A bouquet for Amanda Wyatt The engLiSh RoSe CoLLeCTion is the latest from the Balbier Wyatt portfolio and a fresh new addition to the company’s 2013 line-up. Luxurious fabrics, classic silhouettes, and top notes of brilliant detailing are a feature. +44 (0)161 493 2700 /


Trudy Lee

01707 643633

news don’t miss...

rba winners

Textile Forum’s 10th anniversary

The RBA’S CRySTAL BALL DinneR AnD DAnCe was a real sparkler this year, hosted by chair Laura Daly. As important as fab food, great entertainment, and a chance to dance the night away, was the announcement of the all-important rBa award winners, voted for by association members. Congrats from us to: Best Wedding Gown Collection over £1,500 ian Stuart Best Weddng Gown Collection under £1,500 maggie Sottero Best Bridesmaid Supplier dessy Best Groomswear Supplier Cameron ross Best Accessories Supplier richard designs Best Customer Services Benjamin roberts and the Special Recognition Award went to Ellis Bridals, celebrating its century…

The Wows winners

An edinburgh-based Ķreworks company was celebrating at Scotland’s wedding oscars – the VoWS awards 2012. The company was named top in its category at the event, which took place alongside more than 600 of its Scottish wedding industry peers at Hilton glasgow. VoWS stands for Voted outstanding Wedding Supplier of the year and is a celebration of businesses in the Scottish wedding industry which have been nominated for the awards by happy newlyweds for exceptional levels of service. now in its eighth year, the VoWS awards 2012 attracted more than 13,000 nominations and 100 Scottish wedding companies made the shortlist. 20 winners on the night were: Event Hire & Décor Silver events Specialist Wedding Services Learn 2 Wedding Dance Jeweller Jewellery by Liam Ross Stationery & Favours Sixpenny Blue Mums’ & Bridesmaids’ Designer & Retailer Catwalk Bridal Designer & Retailer Freja designer dressmaker Wedding Accessories Corrine Smith design Groomswear kilts 4U Hair & Make Up Artist Laura gray hair Beauty Bridal Florist Something Special Flowers

Photographer george Lammie Photography Videographer Cherry Tree Films Music & Entertainment - Daytime apollo String Quartet Music & Entertainment - Evening T-Junction Wedding Band Transport Carrs Loch Lomond Cake Designer Liggy’s Cake Company Independent Caterers Top Class Catering Wedding Venue Co-ordinator Jennifer pirie - Hopetoun House Wedding Venue Lochside house hotel & Spa Industry Award 21cc Fireworks

The 10Th AnniversAry TexTile Forum show in October was a huge success with the highest percentage of first-time visitors since the event was launched in 2002. Among the diverse designers and brands that attended were Christopher Kane, Umbro, Holland and Holland, ASOS, Jenny Packham, Lyle & Scott, Pearce Fionda and Twenty8Twelve. “The exhibition was busy from the moment that we opened the doors and at times people were queuing to get in,” says Linda Laderman, co-founder and organiser. “This augurs well for our next decade.” Particularly impressed with the event was Andrew Fionda of Pearce Fionda. “We thought the show was brilliant. We were looking for fabric for a small couture collection we are introducing and we saw some of the world’s top fabrics at Textile Forum. We normally go to Premiere Vision but decided we wanted to try and do everything from London - and we did.” Seen here with Linda Laderman is Michael Bristow of Michael’s Bridal Fabrics, one of the 14 companies that were presented with framed posters featuring their fabrics as a token of their support. Michael’s Bridal Fabrics, sponsors of the 2013 Bridal Buyer Awards trophies, has exhibited at Textile Forum twice a year for seven years.

The 80s-themed awards ceremony was hosted by TV personality keith Chegwin and featured 20 award categories, including the Vows industry award won this year by 21cc Fireworks. Stewart roxburgh at Scottish enterprise was part of the Ķve-strong judging panel, which also included representatives from o2, VisitScotland and Bridal Buyer’s Susi rogol. He was impressed by the high standards of entries this year. He said: “in these times when personal referral is everything, it is absolutely essential that the industry responds with creativity and professionalism that not only reßects on our individual brands but on the entire industry in Scotland.”


The Art of the Dress

Fantastic offers always available. Quality & Styles at competitive prices. Please visit our web site to see our stunning new collection. For more information or to book an appointment please contact us on 01424 854387 or e-mail:

news don’t miss...

Congrats to‌

ritva Westenius on 2014 AT WHITE GALLERy LOndOn in May, British Bridal designer of the year, Ritva Westenius will present statement gowns that are high on impact and cutting-edge drama. She promises wafting organza and floating chiffon seductively twinkling with exquisite beading, and highlights that include guipure lace, cutwork organza, lace and embroidery. Pick up on the visions of other White Gallery stars – see page 52.

New Website for bridal retailer KATHERInE ALLEn OF BAnBURy HAS SPEnT THE PAST MOnTHS putting together a new website, with the help of local graphic designer Ally Gilmore from Jacks Union. Md Kate Allen says: “We were conscious that our internet-savvy brides were unable to see our old flash-based website on smartphones and ipads so that was the push we needed to design a new site. We want brides to feel like li they are walking into the th shop when they look at our ou site and it does just that. The T result is a really accurate reflection of us, our ethos re and an of course our collection and an we really hope browsers enjoy using it�. To view the en new ne website, go to www. ka

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Cover: Blooming gorgeous gown by Ian Stuart Bride, a huge hit at the October New York shows.

Happy new HQs toâ&#x20AC;Ś

â&#x20AC;ŚAlan and Cynthia Dessy on the birth of baby

Bobby, and the fastest visit ever to BBEH (Alan arrived on the Saturday night and left, with Stephen Szames playing chauffeur, first thing Sunday morning).

â&#x20AC;ŚMichaelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Bridal Fabrics Unit F4 northĂ&#x;eet industrial estate Lower Road northĂ&#x;eet gravesend kent da11 9SW +44 (0)1322 380480

â&#x20AC;ŚMori Lee / Ronald Joyce Unit 5 northgate Terrace northern road newark ng24 2eU +44 (0)845 561 5522

â&#x20AC;Śrebekah roberts, of

Eternity Bridal, who married longtime love Paul Hock (they met when she was sweet 16, and had lived one street away from each other since childhood). The wedding took place in a stunning riad in the heart of Marrakech medina. Rebekah designed and made her gown â&#x20AC;&#x201C; soft tulle over chiffon with a belt of antique lace beaded with dimantes, crystals and pearls.

â&#x20AC;ŚVictoria Kay 31 Brunel road St Leonards-on-Sea east Sussex Tn38 9rT +44 (0)1424 427284

â&#x20AC;ŚEastern Direct (White Rose, Angel, LouLou) Unit 18 propeller park nCr Business Centre 400 north Circular road middx nW10 oaB +44 (0) 20 8368 1500

â&#x20AC;ŚBrides by solo of newmarket, who celebrated a 30th anniversary in October. A member of the RBA, the shop carries Maggie Sottero, Forever yours, Mark Lesley, Benjamin Roberts, Ronald Joyce, Romantica and Alexia designs. Cheers ladies.



show report

What better way to review the year’s biggest bridal event than by asking buyers and the press to double-check their notes and pinpoint their favourite finds?

HARROGATE AR SPECIALS Daisi Daisi – Sharon Bowens’s gorgeous new collection created with her fabulous eye for design, detail and spanning the decades

good Bryony Too ector Fashion Dir Brides

take on lle A new Button Be Metcalf – s by Aimee es bridesmaid eight dress uid lightw Æ , le le b ty a -s rd affo vintage lours with co et rb so in accessories d chiffon wer printe o Æ y m a re e ‘Fleur Hera’s d ooded cap h l w co le d n dress a ate fairyta r the ultim fo – t’ re lo de F wedding n e’ collectio ade In Lov ‘M ew d n n e Th inine, a – soft, fem by Farage d understate

Alfred Angelo’s something blue – the Disney Collection’s limited-edition Cinderella dresses

Diane Harbridge’s collection was a triumph. One of my favourites was Annabelle, with its lace cap sleeves and ‘vest’ effect‘

Ellis Bridal’s beautifully decorated stand – white paper roses and timeless black and white prints from their 100 years of being part of the bridal industry

Rainbow Club’s cute sweetie shop stand – candy colours, jewel brights and soft pastels – yummy 18

Layers of yellow tulle over blue silk – a perfect 50s promstyle bridesmaid dress from Lou Lou Bridesmaids

Bernie Rice Butterflyz and Angelz Dundalk, Co Louth

Booth Revolution at the BISCO party – such fun. It’s a shame they eventually had to ban us from having our photos taken YET AGAIN!


Grace Harring ton Couture’s Sapphire Colle ction – a great followup to their inau gural Somethi ng Blue last year. I love d the wide vari ety of fabrics and styl ing in this colle ction Madam Bercu wedding gowns A great newco mer to the scen e. Fabulously mou lded bodices w ith crystals and pe arls teamed w ith sumptuous sk irts. We can’t w ait to take delivery of thes e in store Halo & Co desi gns… what can I say? They are alway s perfect

The marvellous 5* St Lawrence Luxury Apartments that put us up for an extra night at extremely short notice

Ronald Joyce - the quality and ‘wow factor’ of their gowns never fails to delight’

Greveleys famous fish and chips Harrogate would not be the same without the obligatory trip here –neither would I be the same. My mum is always determined to go there

The new Beautiful collection by Enzoani Soft materials, gorgeous necklines and sumptuous laces at a great price

Champagne and cupcakes A great and novel idea and a relaxing and fun way to catch up with colleagues in the industry and meet new ones!

Maria Musgrove and Lola Sands GoBridal Tonbridge Wells The Champagne and cupcake bar. Genius. We are still on a diet! Ivory & Co’s Beautiful headpieces and stock veils of a quality that we are proud to y Meeting up for a drink with the lovel ing even ay Sund the on ord Sassi Holf

Madam Burcu. A new designer to the UK market and something totally different from the same gowns we all see year in, year out

Venus Bridal’s customer offer Up to 25 Bridesmaids Gowns FREE with a purchase of six wedding gowns from two of their collections. Best thing about this is that I got to choose colours and sizes myself without being told what I could and could not take. Well done Venus Bridal

Richards Designs Boho headpiece..... Style P622, a fabulous piece of forehead jewellery. It has very delicate feathers and crystals draping the sides

Eternity Bridal one again offered stylish and desirable wedding gowns at an affordable price point


show report

Michelle Flynn Editor, Scottish Wedding Directory very As a Årst time visitor, the biggest disco n. bitio exhi the of size r shee the was for me y reall it I expected BBEH to be big… but ng is enormous! It was no hardship getti ses and dres ing wedd ty pret lost in halls full of gh. thou s hour for accessories bert, It was great to meet up with Holly Cuth tt and Wya ier Balb at ager man d bran the new t. shoo tage to get a sneak peek at the Årst Heri nda Ama eous gorg I also managed to catch the to see her Wyatt catwalk show and was happy els of mod on style s dres e sam showing the useful (and very a ged snag I And . sizes rent diffe e. [Note to very large) silver bag while I was ther bag.] r self: next time take a bigge

I think Button Belle bridesmaid dresses will have vintage loving brides all in a tizzy. These delightful, dainty gowns are designed by Aimee Metcalf and are something new to the bridesmaids market, that’s for sure. The brand is looking for stockists in Scotland. I really hope someone picks them up

part of Scottish Wedding Directory has been BBEH of le coup last the for the Media Lounge this way the see to t grea was shows and it main relaxed space, without the Æurry of the time d spen halls, offers our team a chance to to hello quick a say with clients. I managed to deen Aber , gavie Miln from ure Anais Bridal Cout gow, Glas in ils Deta r Fine The Day, based Our s and Catwalk 54 from Ayrshire. Our Sale Bru, Irn on up ed Director, Craig, who had stock ) acies delic tish Scot Tunnock’s Teacakes (both a had ors visit all sure e and some Åzz, mad warm Scottish welcome of Opus Sharon McPherson and Roma Herbin insight an me gave ide Kilbr West in ure Cout d into life as a buyer by inviting me to atten was It . them with the Maggie Sottero show es which wonderful to see how a retailer decid in ed listen I ts. clien their suit dresses will new in work to ning plan were they on how and a bit collections alongside existing ranges, ped snap dy alrea ’d about the dress styles they Was end. week the over ners up from other desig ome awes on’s Shar t abou hear to also brilliant want to go trip to LA with Enzoani. Next time, I too! entum in Mia Solano is deÅnitely gaining mom eyesome see to hted Scotland. I was delig t Can’ d. stan their on ns desig catching wait to see how our fashion team plans to shoot them!

Aura, a new and remarkably affordable shoe collection from Paradox London, was one of my top finds. I love its minimal detail and know brides on a budget will be delighted with the price point (from £39 to £45


I loved my brief 12-hour visit to Harrogate. We were on deadline that week, so I couldn’t spare any longer out of the office. But in the short time I was there, I learned I’d dearly love to visit the Spa town again. And I need to spend more time at BBEH, of course. One day is definitely not enough!

Cabotine Novia, a new bridal range to the UK by Spanish designer Gema Nicolás, stopped me in my tracks. This stunning selection of gowns uses subtle details to convey a delicate refined elegance in bridalwear. I know the brand is already stocked in Scotland (Reeta Fashions in Glasgow) and it’s definitely one to watch. Definitely one to watch

Ellis Bridal’s centenary Romance collection – lace, sleeves and a sexy feel – not prim at all

Josephine Hollowayue Frox Bridal Boutiq Taunton

i Sadly, we only managed one day at BBEH, this time round, but these are the things that really stood out for us: I loved Rembo Styling’s collection of soft, Æoaty numbers that spelled boho chic – beautiful and excitingly different! Halo & Co for ‘bold’ and gold tiaras – quite fabulous

Lusan Mandongus – for just being the most gorgeous things! Love them every time

Heavenly by design Halo Bridal Designs is an Australian bridal house with a quarter of a century history and 35 retailers throughout Australia and New Zealand. A distinctively Australian style, our focus is on fine quality, luxury and comfort for our brides. Following a successful BBEH we are pleased to welcome our new stockists to the Halo Bridal Designs family. We would also like to extend an invitation to the crème de la crème of the industry to enquire about our exclusive range. We have amazing incentives available to a limited number of stockists throughout the UK who wish to be a part of the Halo Bridal Designs brand To find out more or to receive a retailer pack: Contact us in Europe: +356 7995 6766 or +356 2733 2006 Email:



Kirsty Keay of the prestigious bridalwear retailer Aliya Rose in Cupar, Fife, is deeply concerned about the health and well-being of the industry. Online selling and counterfeit dresses are an acknowledged threat, but un-monitored forums, she believes, pose another danger

think it is sAFe tO sAy thAt FOR thOse of us working in the bridal industry you would have to be living under a rock to not realise that there is an issue with Chinese counterfeit dresses and online selling. there are people within the industry who have taken up the mantle of fighting this problem; karen taft from Benjamin Roberts immediately springs to mind. however, it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t seem to be an issue that has motivated everyone to the same degree. Bridal retailers work in an industry that has a finite number of customers, there will only


ever be a set number of weddings per year, so we are all fighting for a share of the same customer base. that is business, and how we choose to compete can be down to a number of different factors: Customer service Price Product sales incentives some customers will never want to forgo any of these elements of their all-important shopping experience; for them it isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t always about the bottom line.

* * * *

What We are up against

however, as we see shopping habits in everyday life change, so we see the same in bridal. the high street music and bookstore is struggling to compete with the likes of Amazon and Play. that is business â&#x20AC;&#x201C; diversify or risk closing your doors. But in bridal it is impossible to be a reputable retailer and diversify in the same way that will allow competition with the online retailer, especially those selling counterfeit dresses. Firstly, a legitimate bridal retail does not

STRONG opinion sell online. it is, quite rightly, a practice that is banned and if you ignore the ‘ruling’ then you risk losing your designer labels and, along with them, the competitive edge that you might need to win sales over competitors. so how can we then compete with an online seller who is selling dresses either well below RRP or worse at a price that is lower than we as retailers can buy from the designer? As an industry i would expect that all players and partners would be working together to tackle the problem, to safeguard the institution of bridal shopping, around which so many of us – the retailers, the designers, the magazines, the online planning websites – exist. think of the damage to the entertainment industry resulting from the illicit downloading of films and music (a threat so significant that we have seen several high-stake legal cases battling over the issue). Worryingly, however, in bridal it is not such a black and white situation.

the danger of forums

i have been an avid user of online forums for eight years – in fact the origins of Aliya Rose began on an online wedding planning forum.

Whilst i once used forums to discuss the finer details of my wedding planning (just where was i going to locate the perfect shade of purple for the candles in my centrepieces that exactly matched my bridesmaid dresses?) i now visit them from a market research perspective. What are brides interested in? Who are the designers that they are talking about? What are the new trends? Worryingly what i find, without fail, on every forum i have visited (and often on the front page) are website recommendations for online retailers. in fact on one forum it was a ‘sticky’ – the moderators had ‘stuck’ the thread to the top of the forum so it could be found easily. it doesn’t even need to be a post asking for website recommendations, it can be a simple request for recommendations in the London area for places to buy bridesmaid dresses. Unfortunately this will regularly bring up ‘lightinthebox’, ‘David’s Bridal’ and other similar sites, along with helpful recommendations about how to ‘use’ local retailers to pick the dress you want, such as: “yeah, she told me she took her sisters out BM dress shopping and picked her dresses. she

is sometimes lower than i can buy from my designer how can i logistically compete? secondly, the abuse of bridal premises and staff time to help narrow down the search for ‘the dress’ (bridal or bridesmaid) where there is absolutely no hope of converting this particular search into a sale. i will admit that customer service goes a long way, and when you’re competing with other shops it may be enough to win over a bride when there might be a small price difference. however, the same cannot be said when the price difference is 50% … and sometimes more! thirdly, we were once proud advertisers of the labels that we carry. All of our promotional material boldly stated the designers available at Aliya Rose; we would be boastful about our roster of suppliers at wedding fairs and in the shop with brides; we always made sure we carried labels associated with quality and that had a strong brand identity. sadly, this is no longer the case. We are now editing and minimising every piece of information we supply to bride about our labels. We don’t advertise who we carry, we have re-named the dresses and we won’t take

se forums to exist, yet “Our advertising investment allows the erests despite they are doing nothing to protect our int the fact that we are their customers” got the name, colour and measurements etc and then ordered them on-line; i asked her the same thing as you just have images of them coming and falling apart within two hours, but they were definately [sic] the real thing.”

the result

this behaviour is creating three issues: 1 Promotion and endorsement of counterfeit sellers 2 Promotion and endorsement of retailers who are operating outside of the rules regarding online selling (usually from the UsA) 3. Promotion and endorsement that using the time and expertise of ‘bricks and mortar’ shops to assist in dress selection and sizing when the intention is to buy online is totally acceptable. As a retailer this creates several problems. Firstly the ability– or lack of – to compete on price. i absolutely understand that brides have a budget that they want to stick to, and that is why retailers carry dresses across a wide range of price points. in addition to this, exsample sales enable brides to acquire the dress of their dreams for a lot less than buying it (legitimately) brand new. however, when an online shop is selling a dress at a price that

any measurements prior to a deposit being paid for a dress. it’s a fine balance between maintaining the good customer service that we pride ourselves on and protecting the interests of our business. At this point you may be thinking “and so... what does this have to do with the rest of the industry?” Well, here is my and so: Online wedding planning forums and publications get the majority of their income from advertising. Advertising that is paid for by retailers, such as Aliya Rose, and advertising that is paid for by the designers. Our financial investment is a large revenue source that allows these forums to exist, yet they are doing nothing to protect our interests despite the fact that we are their customers.

lack of support

When i raised this with one company (who we pay to advertise with in print as well as online) i was told that it isn’t their place to moderate the forum; that legally it brings about a responsibility they do not want to shoulder. Fair enough. however, there are rules about posting on these forums, rules that are well-advertised and are, in the main, followed by users. But there is no mention about visitors

continued on page 75





hiS iS a lot MoRe than a MeRe dipping of the toes into the market. the Swarbrick’s showroom (in the Middleton area of Greater Manchester) covers a massive 4,000 square feet in all, of which 40 per cent is now dedicated to bridal. Jane Powell, one of the Swarbrick’s directors, says that they’re aiming for the “middle-to-top-end” of the market, “concentrating very hard on service”. the manager of Bride by Swarbrick’s, as the new venture is known, is louise Greenwood. “a year ago she joined us on the menswear side,” Jane explains. “But she has a wealth of bridal experience.” Working alongside her will be Jane’s sister, Clare hoyle (another of the Swarbrick’s directors) and Jane’s two daughters hannah and Sophie Powell. initially the shop is stocking five bridal labels: intuzuri, Pronovias, Mark lesley, Romantica and Sincerity. “We may be new to bridal, but in our first six months of being open we’ll decide on the brands that are working for us and the type of dress and the look that our customers are going for,” Jane says. “at that point we may then start looking at other

The Swarbrick’s bridal team, left to right: Clare Hoyle, Jane Powell, Louise Greenwood, Hannah Powell

Going girlie

Reportedly the biggest independent men’s formal hire shop in the UK, Swarbricks has finally branched out into bridal and launched a new department for the girls within its award-winning north Manchester shop brands that make it in those criteria.” You can guarantee that, prior to opening, award-winning Swarbrick’s had done its research. With so much knowledge and history in formalwear hire and retail, it’s not the type of company to enter naively into a new sector. that’s despite the fact that Jane and her fellow directors (as well as Clare, there’s also Duncan McKno) made the firm decision to launch the bridal side only ten months ago.

a real pedigree

Swarbrick’s itself is a stalwart in men’s formal hire, first established 35 years ago by Jane’s father. “he started off working out of my sister’s bedroom,” she remembers. the company moved to its current premises six years ago. “We also have a 10,000-square foot warehouse,” confirms Jane. “it’s gone from strength to strength.” it certainly has. With the new bridal business launched in September, there are four 24

companies under the Swarbrick’s umbrella: the menswear shop (Swarbrick’s), waistcoat manufacturer (heirloom), a national wholesale formalwear supplier (Ultimate Formal hire), and the new Brides by Swarbrick’s. Jane believes the company’s history and reputation in the north-west will give them a head start once the bridal side of the business is established. they already attend many bridal fairs as a menswear retailer. “We’ll continue to do that but simply take the ladies’ wear with us too,” she says.

Space to fill

During her research, Jane was surprised at what she saw as a dearth of bridal retailers in Manchester. She admits the suburbs are well covered but claims there are few quality bridal shops in the centre of the city. “it was quite an eye-opener to us,” she says. She then reconnoitred rival bridal retailers in the suburbs and concluded that there was >



The launch party attracted the press as well as those all-important potential customers. A ķower-decked vintage car, locally-made delicacies and models in the prettiest dresses created a very special atmosphere. From The White Rose launch collection is the dress, above right, by Johanna Hehir; and the tiara below: Hermoine Harbutt

indeed a gap in the market. even though her premises are on the northern edge of Manchester, she believes they will command quite a sizeable catchment area – as much as a 15-mile radius which will cover much of Greater Manchester, and parts of lancashire, Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Cheshire. “i’m sure we’ll get the odd customer from further afield, too,” she adds confidently. the size of the Swarbrick’s could prove to be a bonus, too. as well as the 4,000 square feet of showroom, there is a car park for 35 cars – ideal for visiting brides. Jane says she plans to hold regular manufacturers’ promotions in the shop. “our premises are big enough to have our own catwalk in there.” indeed, on the launch weekend for Brides by Swarbrick’s in September, the Champagne and canapés party featured a much-applauded fashion show.

getting noticed

the shop is located just off Junction 19 of the M60, on Middleton Road, one of the main commuter routes into town from the north 26

of Manchester. “the traffic that passes our shop all day – and especially at rush hour – is unbelievable,” Jane says. She knows she needs to capitalise on this passing trade. the company is having huge advertising billboards constructed to market the new bridal business to drivers passing on Middleton Road. and there’s room in the large shop window to display bridal dresses alongside the existing and much in-demand menswear. Jane recognises that it is important for the company to strive to differentiate between the two sides of the business, both in the bricks and mortar shop, and online. So, although the bridal and menswear will share the same web portal, there will be distinctly different looks to the men’s and women’s sections. and in the shop itself, the bridal area will have a chic black, cream and mink colour scheme, while the men’s area will maintain its very elegant pale grey and aubergine theme.

launch and that satisfied Jane’s objectives of creating a buzz among brides and bridal retailers through social media.

perfect timing

it is no co-incidence that Swarbrick’s chose September to launch. Jane says the manufacturers whose gowns she is stocking all concurred, since that’s the time of year they launch their new collections. and she has no intention of shutting up shop in the weeks leading up to Christmas. “a lot of bridal shops close during December,” she adds. “But we’re planning a couple of events for then. We only ever close on Bank holidays.” Rival bridal retailers in the Manchester area will no doubt be sceptical about a menswear retailer crossing over the divide into bridalwear. But Jane remains confident. “Yes, we are new to the market,” she admits. “But we’ve been around wedding dresses and bridalwear at the shows we exhibit at. We’re quick learners. and louise (the new manager) knows the industry inside out.” anyone who doubts their seriousness and their intent should remember what an impact they have already made on men’s formal wear. What with Ultimate Formal hire, heirloom and Swarbrick’s retail, there are very few married British men (certainly in the north of england) who haven’t at least tried on a Swarbrick’s product. and while no one’s expecting them to dominate bridal retail to such an extent yet you should expect them to punch above their weight. BB

The size of Swarbrick’s could prove to be a real bonus. As well as 4,000 square feet of showroom, there is a car park for 35 cars ideal for visiting brides

expert help

Swarbrick’s employ a team of joiners to do all their shop-fitting jobs. in July, once the prom season had finished, they started work on the new bridal section of the shop. Jane said she had “invested heavily” in designer wallpaper and top-quality furniture from John lewis. She also plans to launch a high-profile marketing campaign. in June they organised a bridalwear photo shoot. local magazines – including the lancashire Magazine, lancashire life, Pure Weddings, County Brides and Cheshire Bride – all covered the

good advice


10 tips


Gabi Webb works for Something Blue PR, the agency dedicated to the bridal industry. On more than one occasion we have called on this specialist company for advice directed at our retailer readers. Here are their latest tips


GET YOUR WEBSITE UP TO SPEED Brides often make snap judgements on a company based on the look of the website alone so it’s essential to ensure that your site reflects the quality and offering of your products and services. Your website should be easy to navigate and inspiring for brides, acting as a shop window to your consumers. A regularly-updated blog will enable you to quickly update your website with images of your real brides, showcase any new collections you are stocking and promote upcoming events. Blogs are also a great way of increasing your website’s SEO.

NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK Attend as many networking opportunities as possible, it’s a great way to meet the press and build relationships with like-minded suppliers – not to mention giving you a break from everyday work and ensuring that you keep up-to-date with the latest happenings within the industry.

3 4

BECOME A PRO AT SELF PROMOTION If you’re launching a new collection or introducing an additional designer to your boutique, make sure you shout about it; it’s news such as this that the press love to cover. Equally if you are hosting an event such as a preview evening or sample sale, let both your brides and the press know so that they can include it in their diary date pages or online newsletters – it’s the best way of spreading the word far beyond your existing database of brides. TAKE UP PROMOTIONAL OPPORTUNITIES If you’re approached to work with stylists and suppliers on shoots for features it’s always worth considering these, even though it may mean offering your time and products for free. Promotional opportunities such as this can be invaluable, especially if your work ends up being featured in a magazine or online, and are a relatively lowbudget way to expand your reach and secure coverage.


KEEP AHEAD OF THE MARKET One of the most important things you can do to ensure you continue to attract the attention of both brides and press alike is to keep your products and services fresh. Press are sent hundreds of press releases on a daily basis so make sure you are offering something new and exclusive to grab their attention.


USE SOCIAL MEDIA WISELY Make sure you have fully-functioning Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts set up and that comments are in line with your brand. Social media is a great immediate medium to talk about special offers and promotions but shouldn’t be used to bombard brides with sales messages – this will only put them off.


SHOWCASE YOUR BRIDES Word-of-mouth recommendations are key. Dedicate a section of your website to your real brides, showcasing their photos and testimonials. Equally, add a press page – there is no better endorsement than praise from your previous clients and the press.


KNOW YOUR EXHIBITIONS Exhibitions are a great way of showcasing your latest products and services and in addition to the small, local shows, there are the major events, such as the National Wedding Shows, which deliver big audiences. Different shows can serve different purposes so it’s important to establish who your target consumer is and what show they will attend. Once you have taken the decision to exhibit, it’s time to start thinking about how to present yourself and stand out from the crowd; your stand should be open, inviting and reßective of your brand as, too, should your marketing and press collateral. Become friendly with the PR and marketing teams working on the show and take up any additional opportunities for exposure, whether this is running a competition or putting your collections in a catwalk show – there are numerous ways to drive trafĶc to your stand.


BE CONSISTENT Consistency is vital to ensure that your brand is recognised and clearly identifiable within the market. From your product collections, packaging, marketing collateral and boutique décor through to your website, blog, and Facebook account, ensure there is clear continuity running throughout to reflect your identity. This will help your clients familiarise themselves with your brand and generate recognition and loyalty.


KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS Nobody is an expert in every field – as much as we like to think we are the modern day equivalent of Mary Poppins, we all have our limitations. While you may be in your element designing a wedding dress, you should consider calling in the experts to utilise their skill sets and agencies dedicated to promoting clients in the bridal industry. From preparing press packs to organising photoshoots, you can employ experienced practitioners to focus on driving your marketing campaigns, leaving you to spend your time on what you do best.


A bit of decorum


Everyone knows Karl Metcalfe. And almost certainly everyone knows he is one of the trio behind a new company in bridal. But what you may not know is quite how exciting it is

Okay, tell us about Decorum. What brands is it representing? Decorum Bride is a new UK company that has acquired the European distribution rights to Jean Fox, Only You by Jean Fox, Sylvia Rose and the UK designer collection from Isabelle Montagu. So, is the venture purely a Jean Fox distribution operation? And why is it necessary as the brands have long been shown to the trade at March and September BBEH and surely must have established their own customers? Paul Fox has been showing the Australian collections over in the UK for about eight years and has established a good stockist base over here. Stockists have had a point of contact in the UK but all orders, enquiries and distribution have been dealt with from the Australian office. Decorum Bride has its own infrastructure providing an accounts office, distribution centre and customer service and sales support to ensure stockists are provided with a full-time and permanent supply network. Does that mean you will be taking on other, non-related, labels looking for a stockist network in the UK? Not at this stage. The four labels currently represented are both diverse and complementary with a range of pricing, styling and design influences. The Decorum offering has something to appeal to almost every bridal retailer and their brides. Who is involved in the new venture and what are their precise roles? I am the Sales Director and overseeing business development; Paul Fox continues to ensure production and logistics are kept to schedule and will attend BBEH. Phoebe Stockman is the Devon-based designer behind Isabelle Montagu and will also provide design input into the Australian collections for the UK. Phoebe will be


ensuring quality standards remain high and that all gowns are delivered to stores efficiently. Hollie Barbour has been the main point of contact for UK stockists for several years and remains with the new company in an administrative role. At Harrogate, you presented the new set up to the trade. What sort of reaction did you get? Existing stockists were delighted to see the new ideas and increased resources that Decorum Bride is bringing to the already successful brands. I was delighted to see many of the retailers who I have worked with over the past 24 years calling by to take a look and placing orders. The feeling on the stand was one of excitement; we have a vision to bring something really special to retailers. What are the collections in the portfolio currently and can you tell us a bit about each of them? Jean Fox is the original Australian wedding gown company manufacturing in Australia for over 80 years. Retailing between £1,900 and £3,000, its gowns are individually made to order in Sydney, Australia. The ability to customise designs and to deliver in as little as six weeks make this brand very appealing. Only You by Jean Fox was launched in 2007. The vision was clear – to create a collection of beautiful bridal gowns, with the design innovation, quality and luxury that Jean Fox is known for, but accessibly priced for British Brides, at £700 to £1,500. There are over 50 styles in the range with a new collection of around 12 pieces added each March and September. Sylvia Rose is all about classic style for the modern bride, with sophisticated silhouettes and just enough sparkle. Prices range from £600 to £1,100. Isabelle Montagu launched this year and is founded on the philosophy that beauty is simplicity. The 15-piece Ethereal collection, retailing from £900 to £2,400, incorporates vintage elements with an elegant modern twist, using soft, delicate fabric combinations and refined detailing.

The vintageinspired Isabelle Montagu range is designed by Phoebe Stockman who is based in Devon

freSh approach

Across the ranges there is a real diversity of styles and, importantly price points, so without question this is a portfolio that retailers will Ă&#x;nd attractive. Detailing throughout is exceptional, as is overall quality

Do you see stockists carrying more than one of your labels, or are indications that there will be a different set of retailers per brand? Decorum Bride has four main collections and would like to see our brands carried by the best retail stores throughout the UK and Ireland. Existing stores have the option to add further brands and if they choose not to then these brands are available to other retailers in the area. With a wide choice of style and price points we expect stockists to be able to offer their brides more than one of the Decorum Bride labels. What makes the Decorum collections standout from others in this highly-competitive marketplace? Decorum Bride is a retailer-focused company that endeavours to meet the requirements of the modern and progressive retailer. A good online presence with interactive social media and focused consumer advertising, the company aims to deliver a strong support network to retailers. The design integrity of the collections will be of utmost importance with our own in-house designer innovating new design concepts and ensuring quality control is maintained at a very high level we expect to stand out from the crowd. Where are the Jean Fox labels currently manufactured? Jean Fox is still designed and manufactured in Australia offering great materials, workmanship and delivery. Only You by Jean Fox, Sylvia Rose and Isabelle Montagu are manufactured in the Far East to ensure excellent value for money and the consistent higher volume production required to meet the requirements of the UK market. What is your current delivery time from order confirmation? Jean Fox gowns are delivered in eight weeks as standard and Only You, Sylvia Rose and Isabelle Montagu are all quoted as 18 weeks from confirmation. New sample orders placed at the trade shows are quoted at 20 weeks to allow for the increased volume at this time. Decorum Bride are looking at ways of reducing these lead-times and will be putting in place measures to improve efficiency in their practices to ensure the best possible delivery dates. One way we have already improved efficiency is to hold stock in many key selling styles to allow for short notice orders and last minute brides. What are you doing to support your stockists? What sort of budget have you set up for advertising, and which media are you focusing on? All of the collections have their own websites which have been recently upgraded with great photography and stockist listings to ensure brides have the information they require to find their chosen gown. Decorum Bride has active and well-followed Facebook and Twitter accounts that help to provide news and information relevant to stockists and consumers alike. Consumer advertising is an important part of any suppliersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; offer to stockists, and Decorum Bride is currently talking to the main consumer magazines and websites to establish an effective campaign for the coming year. What sort of in-store activities do you see getting involved in? Are Designer Days being made available >> to retailers?


freSh approach Designer Days are a really effective way to introduce a designer or brand to the consumer; Decorum Bride welcomes the opportunity to get involved in events that are promoted by stores, and will always provide gowns and promotional material as available. I am meeting with stockists on a regular basis to share ideas and information as well as taking feedback to ensure product and service are leading edge. Right now, there is certainly caution out there on the part of retailers – did you feel a resistance from buyers at BBEH to taking on new brands? Retailers are rightly being more careful about how and where they place their orders and spend their money. I have always believed in stores acting with their feet – too many companies put increased pressure on retailers to fill their rail space with an excessive number of samples. Decorum Bride does not insist on large minimums, we instead are looking to reward retailers who maintain strong repeat business. Less samples creating the same number of unit sales is the way forward for retailers. What are you planning to deliver in the way of exceptional customer service? We offer open communication and a common goal – we’re in this together with the retailers and everything we do will reflect that! Partnership is what it is all about. What are your minimums per label and what about exclusivity? Although we don’t have strict minimums we do expect new accounts to make a reasonable commitment to the brand to represent the collection so as to offer some choice to brides who may travel a long way to see a collection. What are you granting your stockists in the way of radius? I believe that 15 miles is a fair radius in most cases, in some heavilypopulated cities there may be an argument for two stockists and in other more sparsely populated areas there may be a need for wider exclusivity. I am a great believer in minimums and exclusivity decisions being based on a two-way street approach, giving both suppliers and retailers a fair deal. I definitely believe that communication and honesty are paramount and a short-sighted approach to these subjects will be detrimental to both the supplier and the retailer. Does the trade understand the Decorum proposition, or is there the risk that they think it is a collection in its own right? Decorum Bride offers a business style and ethic that we all believe in, our brands and collections offer retailers an assured standard of service, quality and trust from individuals who care passionately for the industry. Consumers see the individual brands in our promotion and advertising but the retailer knows that working with Decorum Bride will ensure the same high standards will apply throughout their portfolio. So will your trade and consumer advertising carry the Decorum name, or just those of the individual collections? Trade advertising will promote the Decorum Bride brand, while consumer advertising will concentrate on promoting our individual

New designs are constantly on the drawing boards, picking up on the very latest designer trends

Decorum Bride has its own infrastructure to ensure stockists have a full time and permanent supply network


brands and their own signature and personality. What do you see as the three biggest challenges facing the industry in this country right now? Firstly, the Internet... Not the fear of losing customers to it, but rather learning to use it to full advantage to the benefit of the retailer. The information available is as much a tool for success as it is a threat. Cheap or free marketing opportunities are abundant. Ideas are everywhere! Access to our customers is open and available like never before. We need to see the opportunities, not just the threats. Secondly, vision and planning... Because of the current economic climate, and the culture of ‘survival’ many businesses are forgetting to plan for growth, recovery and to leverage the new opportunities that the market will present, even in the down times! Is there an improved lease opportunity? Or an chance to negotiate better supply terms? Or a new service or product that will complement existing business? Pay close attention to the budgets... Sales AND expenses. Thirdly, Trust... At all levels of the industry the relationships are mostly adversarial. We wholesalers need to want the same things as our retailers... And in turn the retailers need to want the same things as the brides. If we can build relationships based on trust, we can all start to push in the same direction. Honest and trusting relationships in the supply chain will result in satisfied brides and an improving reputation for the industry. Three pieces of advice for retailers, please? 1 Use all of the free advertising available to you from social media, local events, in-store promotions and most of all, your shop window. 2 Brides are looking for new inspiring gown styles not lots of similar gowns from lots of different manufacturers. Retailers need to be focused and brave when ordering their new collections. 3 Make it fun; work with the suppliers whose products perform for you and who work with you to make the journey a pleasure. Three wishes for Decorum? 1 To continue to grow our stockist base to provide good but not overcrowded coverage of the UK and Europe. 2 To develop our collections, while maintaining innovation and design integrity. 3 To earn a reputation for being a reliable company... and a fun one.

+44 (0)1790 753053 /

In conversation wIth….

Hannah hotter

Alan and Marguerite Hannah continue to breathe new excitement into the designer sector, year after year. Showing at White Gallery in 2013 (they have been there from the start of this prestigious show), they are again upping their offering to retailers and, of course, their brides

Lace. Is it going to continue to be THE one, or do you see other fabrics becoming equally important? I think lace will continue to do well; however, lace does not suit everyone. Our best-selling fabric has been our Italian rose damask which is exclusive to us. We used it on style Sorrento this season. What style features are your stockists asking for right now? Our stockists are requesting dresses with more cover – either straps like Chryso or sheer cover in lace or organza such as Eloise, Connie or Eren. It gives a more demure feel. Is that the same across both the Alan Hannah and MiaMia collections? We have lots of very interesting sleeves and shoulder details in the MiaMia gowns and because the label has quite a bohemian feel, Marguerite is able to be very adventurous here. Are you currently finding a resistance to high prices? I don’t think that our prices are high for the quality of the dresses we produce. Most Alan Hannah gowns retail around £1,800-£2,200 and I think this is very competitive for a couture-standard English-made dress. MiaMia retails at £1,200-£1,800 which we think is a fantastic price point for a dress with so much original design content.

Top: Chryso is satisfying retailers’ requests for simple gowns with straps; above: Eren gives that perfect, barely-there cover-up; left: back details and a beautiful shrug is what so many brides are looking for. Opposite: The best of Alan Hannah, on the catwalk, at White Gallery 2012


How many Designer Days do you do with your stockists in one year and are they by appointment only? Designer Days are very successful if a stockist has invested time in promoting our label and has booked enough girls in but it is impossible to do one every weekend. We support our stockists by sending them the latest collections so that they can represent the label in depth. We find these ‘trunk shows’, if well organised, can also be very successful and they present a fantastic opportunity for boutique staff to see more of our collection on potential brides. What’s the biggest benefit of these sessions to you? Designer Days give Marguerite an opportunity to meet with brides, see the dresses on prospective customers and to see the strengths and weaknesses of her collections. It is also a great opportunity to meet with staff and to go over the collections with them. All in all, that level of > contact is very useful all round.

Trunk shows, if well organised, can be very successful and present a fantastic opportunity for boutique staff to see more of our collections


Krystal Agency New Stockists welcome


Tell us about MiaMia â&#x20AC;&#x201C; it seems to have flourished and developed into a designer label in its own right. Was that the intention from the start? We had intended MiaMia to have its own identity and to use Margueriteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s versatility as a designer to establish a new label with its own personality and to explore a design direction different to Alan Hannah. You show both Alan Hannah and MiaMia at White Gallery London. What makes the environment special for you? White Gallery has a very special atmosphere. The show is very well attended and lets us present our collections in an arena where there is a serious audience who focus on buying designer-end gowns. The invitation-only catwalk show is also a fantastic event which really gives us the opportunity to showcase our collections exclusively to top buyers and press. Question just for you, Alan. Do you ever get involved with Margueriteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s designing process? Marguerite designs both collections. However, we have worked closely together for over 20 years and we will always consult and share our thoughts. We keep each other on track with the direction for both labels and we both know instinctively what is the right path for each. Marguerite is not an egotistical person and appreciates positive criticism.

I never forget the importance of a wedding dress. I love the whole process of designing beautiful clothes

Question for Marguerite. Well does he? Each design is mine inspired by me but if Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve moved too far to the left or right Alan puts me back on the right direction. I value his opinion tremendously and success for us has come through teamwork. Any chance of a hint about the 2014 collection that youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be showing at White Gallery London in May? I have only just started putting ideas together for next year so canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t really disclose anything yet. Which bridal designers impress you most, and why? Of course this is a difficult question as we are all competitors. I admire designers whose look is different to mine as it takes me somewhere else. To me Jenny Peckhamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s modest glamour is exquisite â&#x20AC;&#x201C; if only I had the figure to wear one myself! Do you have a clear idea of direction before you design a new collection, or do things just evolve from one or two special ideas? With Alan Hannah itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s clear as there is an established aesthetic which we evolve slowly so as to retain the spirit and personality of the collection. With MiaMia we have a clear vision of where it is going and for Marguerite it is artistically stimulating to experiment with completely new ideas. The most important thing to remember is that all designers build on their successes of the past. We cannot produce designs that are purely indulgent. We design for our brides and you have to stay in tune with that otherwise you could be making dresses that no one wants to wear. What in this industry of ours gives you the most pleasure? Marguerite: The biggest pleasure is the pleasure of giving. I cannot count the times Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been told: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve made my dayâ&#x20AC;?. I have been designing for over 20 years and have never forgotten the importance of a wedding dress. I love the whole process of designing and making beautiful clothes. BB

Style 301

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To view our collection please visit our website at | Tel. 01279 418555

Please contact us for a brochure T: +44 (0) 1353 723675 | E:

w w w. e l i z a b e t h d i c k e n s v e i l s . c o . u k

2011 WINNER Best Plus-size Collection

Through the decades We all know that vintage is where it is at right now. For some brides, only the genuine article will do, but for the majority of others, who want the authentic look but a perfect version of it, charlie Brear’s decades collection is the answer


ne could assume that someone as talented and visionary in the world of fashion as the woman behind the Vintage Wedding dress company must have spent many years studying the industry before joining it. however, charlie Brear did an art degree and then began her career working as a stylist for mtV. her client base grew to include advertising giants h&m, Rimmel and coca cola, and personal clients like Kate moss, anna Friel and cat deeley. charlie often incorporated vintage elements in her styling, partly for financial reasons: “You can produce a couture look for a fraction of the cost”. she cut her teeth in design, producing accessories for matthew Williamson’s runway collections, as well as her own jewellery line. “styling is a pretty subjective career,” she says. “I guess people liked my taste and I was professional to work with. It was very different when I started out – no one outside of fashion or television knew what a stylist was... people assumed that I was a hairdresser! now every celebrity has their own stylist so it’s seen as a serious career choice today.”

of choice and the type of gown out there and I like to think that we were part of that change.” charlie started out working from her bedroom and then moved to a tiny space in Bloomsbury two years later. her girlfriends helped out by wearing the dresses and her styling contacts helped her to plug the business. a year ago it moved to its current london showroom. “our original premises were really intimate and cosy, like a little dressing up box and we really wanted to retain that feeling in our new larger space. the building we are in now is an old saw mill, so it is quite unusual. We have again created a space that’s really welcoming as well as being beautiful.” charlie and her husband Jamie run the business together with six full-time staff, three freelancers and two part-time sales assistants. this fantastic team enables charlie to spend three days a week at home with their daughter, who is nearly two. “Jamie and I have a rule to not talk about work after 8pm, or there’s a standard 10pm argument about something petty when the tiredness hits!” according to charlie a vintage bride is an individual, openminded girl with a strong sense of style. she would always have had vintage in mind when doing her dress search. “to wear original vintage you have to be someone who has vision but also sees the beauty in the imperfection – this is probably my favourite thing about wearing an original piece. If you buy genuine vintage you will have a truly unique dress at a great price,” she says. charlie buys most of the original vintage pieces direct from dealers in europe and the states; they keep a large number of dresses aside for her, as they know what she likes and she knows more and more what sells. “I used to be more spontaneous when buying, but I know I have to think of my clients first and foremost to find the best for them. I look for dresses that are classic or totally off the charts as individual pieces – there’s really no in-between. a bride buying original vintage should look for a gown that has been cleaned and restored to a really high standard and that she feels confident to buy and to wear.” all original vintage dresses coming in to the >

Things have changed in a huge way in terms of choice and type of gown out there and I like to think we were part of that change

Spotting the gap

In 2005 charlie started to notice that bridalwear was an area of fashion in which there was only a handful of designers doing something different. “to me it felt like row upon row of strapless dresses with a twist. I saw a gap for a vintage bridal company. I knew I wouldn’t be the first to go down this road, but I was the first to offer the service and the quality of restored dresses in a boutique setting with a fashion edge. there are some great purchases to be made in vintage but girls do need to be cautious of buying a dress that is very dirty or damaged or that does not fit well, as cleaning, repairing and altering a dress can be an incredibly difficult and expensive process.” charlie says that there was hardly any crossover between bridal and mainstream fashion at that point. “I think things have changed in a huge way in terms 38

past preSent

Tfe Vintage Wedding Dress Company showroom / shop is a perfect representation of the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s design style. Here original pieces can be seen, as well as the Decades Collection which is stocked by selected retailers across the country


showroom are stock-checked then assessed and put into the restoration process. dresses are occasionally re-styled by, say, removing or adding sleeves. Really small dresses are panelled to make them more accessible for normal-sized women. they are sent to specialist cleaners, who are expensive but experienced in removing the years of wear and tear. each dress is repaired and restored in-house or by the company’s out-sourced specialists. there’s a range of original vintage and new collection accessories, too. decades collection accessories, give brides greater potential to create a bespoke gown using classic vintage silhouettes as a starting point. charlie Brear is a range of simple and elegant heart necklaces that are the perfect gift for bridesmaids. Jennifer Behr’s beautifully embellished headpieces and belts from new York add the perfect finishing touch. | '((/0//,*++'..(*)./*,)

Moving into wholeSale

three years ago charlie came up with a new concept – the vintage-inspired decades collection, for brides who want a vintage look with the cut and feel of an original gown without the flaws. “there are many reasons why a bride might opt for the decades collection over a vintage original. sometimes it can be as simple as her mother not really being able to get her head around buying an ‘old’ dress… especially if it was from the era she herself got married in! Fabric content often plays a part too – if a dress does not feel amazing as well as look amazing this sometimes sways the balance to a decades dress.” a capsule collection of silk bias-cut dresses was sold in-house and the following year she produced the same six styles in lace. In may this year charlie launched a full 2013 decades collection at White Gallery london, featuring fluid slipper satins, beaded lace and feathers. the theory behind the British-made decades collection comes from her work as a fashion stylist. “Brides can add to their dress with elements from our accessories range, making it a more personalised and individual process,” she says. the 2014 collection focuses on texture and hand-beaded additions. charlie collects original pieces to inspire her designs and often dips into her own wardrobe, which is pretty full after 15 years of styling. “I am terrible at sketching, so I do ‘old-school’ mood boards with cut-and-paste and fabric swatches,” she laughs. the concept has been really well received. “I think more and more designers will start to offer ways in which to make buying an off-the-peg dress more of a creative process. We offer training to all our stockists (mostly high-end independent boutiques with a strong sense of style) in how to get the best out of the styling additions that make up the collection; they are our strongest selling point in offering brides more flexibility in what they are buying.” Brides visiting the showroom will see that all the eras are represented. “Brides often come in with an idea of an era or a theme that they want to go with for their wedding. We encourage them to try on different shapes and styles in both the original Vintage collection and the decades collection and stay open minded. the myth that the first dress you try on needs to be ‘the one’ often really stresses brides out. It’s a balance between going to every shop in the entire country and trying enough styles to see what suits her… that number is different for everyone, but five different styles in our showroom will give you a great range of options.” BB +44 (0)20 7637 4898 /

Visit us on stand 201 at The White Gallery, 19-21 May 2013

In addition to our full range of bridal petticoats, Lingerie Garters and Stockings. We will be launching an exciting new range of: Veils - Stoles - Tiarras Hair Jewelry - Head Pieces - Footzy Folds PLEASE CONTACT US FOR OUR NEW BROCHURE OR VISIT OUR NEW WEBSITE

ALL PETTICOAT ORDERS DISPATCHED IMMEDIATELY Unit D2 Fairacres Industrial Estate, Dedworth Road, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 4LE Tel: +44 (0) 1753 622922 | Fax: +44 (0) 1753 622933 web: | email:

For new stockist enquiries, contact Hazel Porter on 07976 959725

shop talk


r Xquisite Bridalwea

hile lace fishtail dresses are popular in london and swansea, in Northants girls are opting for a-line silhouettes and in scotland they are loving tulle. in london, brides are giving themselves lots of time to make their purchase and to pay, while in sussex girls are leaving it late and putting pressure on the shops to fulfil rush orders. in Wales there is a trend for visiting the shop many times before making a decision, while in the north of the country girls are making sure they are well informed before they make any appointments.

At Xquisite BridAlweAr in leighton Buzzard, Hertfordshire, brides seem to be leaving it later and later to start looking for their dress. Average price of dress sold this year £1,500 Most popular style Lace and straps; dresses with a high neck or back detail Colour Ivory. Gold, alabaster and oyster shades are also popular length Floor length embellishments Belts sizes 14-16 Accessories Side headpieces and headbands more than tiaras. An increasing number of brides are ordering jackets. time from purchase until wedding 10 months

White Rose Bridal At white rose BridAl in glouCestershire, brides are very price-conscious and seem to be phoning around the shops for the best price. Average price of dress sold this year £2,300 Most popular style Fishtail Colour Ivory

length Floor length embellishments Lace size 10 Accessories Headdresses, earrings, bracelets, lace jackets and shrugs time from purchase until wedding Eight months

NATIONWIDE Allison Jayne

At Allison JAyne in swAnseA And its branches, they are Ķnding that brides are making multiple visits to the shop before placing their order, so they seem more determined than ever to get it right. Average price of dress sold this year £1,300 Most popular styles Drop waist and Ķshtail. Many brides are asking for gowns with some form of straps Colour Ivory length Floor-length, but 50s-style tea-length dresses are getting more popular embellishments Lace and crystal sizes 12-14 Accessories Veils, tiaras, side pieces and shoes. Jackets and boleros are very popular in lace and satin time from purchase until wedding: 12 -18 months, but some just six months


We like to think we can read a bride’s mind, but truth is her choice of wedding gown is influenced by many factors, and one of them could be where she lives. We put the same questions to shops across the UK, and got very different answers

Platinum Bridal At PlAtinuM BridAl in BirMinghAM, Midlands brides want to spread their payments. The shop has had to help lots of last-minute brides who have had their Ķngers burnt buying online and receiving anything but their dream dress. Average price of dress sold this year £1,200£1,500 Most popular style Straps, lace Colour Ivory and more ivory – we have only sold one white gown in the past Ķve years! length Floor length

embellishments Our brides prefer simpler gowns. Corded lace and Chantilly lace are popular sizes 12 Accessories Our Liza Designs tiaras and Joyce Jackson veils are very popular. Brides love that they are made in the UK. We have stopped selling shoes as we couldn’t do sale or return. Brides don’t want jackets or boleros unless it’s a winter wedding time from purchase until wedding 12 or more months but an almost equal number with less than six months to go

Opus Couture Suzanne Neville At suzAnne neville in london, straps and sleeves have become more sought after over the past year Average price of dress sold this year No average – dresses start at around £2,500 and go up to around £12,000 Most popular style This year, as many slim dresses as full ones Colour Ivory. However, we can create a dress in any colour length Floor length. We occasionally create short wedding dresses. embellishments Beaded belts sizes Made to measure Accessories Anything from tiaras and earrings to veils and shrugs. About 60% of our brides order shrugs of some sort – lace has been the preferred fabric for these in recent years time from purchase until wedding 12 months

At oPus Couture in sCotlAnd, Most brides have done their research and know all the designers and their styles. They have spent a lot of time looking at websites and chatting to other brides. They are also cost-aware, looking for good service and value for money. Average price of dress sold this year £1,200-£1,600 Most popular style Soft tulle and lace with straps Colour Diamond white or ivory length Full length with a train with long veil embellishments Lace and beaded lace or nothing at all sizes 12/14 and 14/16 Accessories Shoes, veils, underskirts and headdresses. Almost every bride wants a jacket, bolero or straps – we design and make these to measure time from purchase until wedding 12-18 months

Proposals ProPosAls of griMsBy sAys Brides have done their homework on the internet before they make an appointment. However, they seem to be aware of the many horror stories of buying online, and prefer to put their trust in a reputable shop. Average price of dress sold this year £1,100 Most popular style Lace dresses with straps Colour Ivory length Floor length embellishments Belt size 12 Accessories Tiaras, veils, shoes, belts and wraps. There has been an increase in brides looking for vintage-style jackets and boleros, especially during the winter months time from purchase until wedding 18 months

London Bride Camellia At CAMelliA BridAl in northAnts, brides have stricter budgets and they are spending less on bridesmaids and accessories. Average price of dress sold this year £800 Most popular style A-line with lace detailing and a bit of sparkle Colour Ivory length Floor length embellishments Beads and crystals sizes No average Accessories Tiaras, veils and shoes. A few are buying jackets and boleros time from purchase until wedding Eight months

At london Bride in the CAPitAl, brides seem to be buying earlier, which gives them more time to pay. There has been an increase in the number of brides buying samples to save either time or money. Average price of dress sold this year £1,000 Most popular style Lace Ķshtail Colour Ivory. There has also been an increase in colours such as blush or champagne length Floor length. Tea-length increasing in popularity but is still pretty rare embellishments Subtle beading with pearls. Belts with either detail or a ßower sizes 12-14 Accessories veils, tiaras, headpieces, belts, boleros time from purchase until wedding Around four months

White Mischief At white MisChief in susseX, 2012 hAs been a year of rush orders – brides have left it late to order and with deliveries averaging between 14 and 16 weeks this has put pressure on everyone! However, it’s been a great opportunity to move on samples for those brides looking for a cheaper option Average price of dress sold this year £1,950 Most popular style Slim, Ķshtail and Ķt-andßair with V-neck or straps

Colour Cream length Floor length embellishments Beaded lace or bling belts sizes 12-14 Accessories Belts, buckles, headpieces, veils! Brides are asking for separate jackets or for one to be made with the dress to form a boat neck time from purchase until wedding Five to seven months


happy families many bridal businesses are family affairs. sounds cosy. On the plus side, it means that everyone understands the pressures that business can bring, and communication can be instant. but can ‘cosy’ become claustrophobic, asks Jill Eckersley


amily businesses can have their downsides. how do family members keep their professional and personal relationships separate? Do sons and daughters feel pressurised to come into the family firm? and what happens as the business expands and takes on non-family members in some roles – how do they feel?

ImpressIon BrIdal I

lucas chrysanthou and his l wife w androulla are directors and owners of st albansa based impression bridal b uK, u european distributors for fo impression and Davinci bridal, bridesmaid and prom b products. in addition, androulla’s nephew p Peter works for the company as sales order processing, shipping and customer services manager, with lucas and androulla jointly managing all the other areas of the business. “my sister-in-law and niece also help out during busy periods and especially during trade shows, where they have been invaluable!’ lucas says, adding that the primary benefits of employing family are trust and reliability. “i have found that family members such as Peter will invariably ‘go the extra mile’ and be flexible with work duties. Working with my family gives me a sense of security that i’m not sure i would otherwise have. “We keep things professional during working hours and as far as possible ignore family ties. it’s important to leave family disagreements at home and make sure work is unaffected. “Other employees may sometimes feel excluded, but we try to avoid speaking among ourselves in Greek, for example. The bottom line is to understand and appreciate the individual personality of each employee. if you can do this i believe the benefits of working with family far outweigh any disadvantages.”

Cameron ross/aCs Ca

Joe Jo Freedman is chairman of cameron Ross, which supplies ca menswear hire. Joe’s son Richard me is the managing Director of acs and an had been instrumental in expanding the company from exp retail menswear with several re branches, to supplying over 800 br retailers with formal hire. t i 44

“Father and son relationships are very similar to any other partnerships,” Joe says. “They have to be worked at to ensure they are successful. We have a board of six members and it is essential to have the input of other professionals. “both of us deal with issues affecting our own areas, but if a major change of direction is proposed, then all of us need to be on board. “When i was younger i not only ran my own business but also had a partner in another venture. There was always the danger of comparing who contributed what to the company’s success, often breeding resentment. “With a father-son relationship, the tottingup of who made the biggest contribution doesn’t exist. We try hard, not always successfully, not to talk business when my wife and i visit the family in edinburgh; with three grandchildren, we can successfully put any business talk off until it is time to enjoy a wee late night malt!”


sally and mike Waddington of Romantica actually met at harrogate and, sally says, never thought for one moment that a family business would not work for them. now, 30 years later, their two sons and daughter-in-law are also part of the team – as are four unrelated on-the-road salespeople, agents abroad, and more than 30 office and factory staff. “We are all one big happy family and no one is left out,” sally says firmly. “mike was in the bridal trade when we met, working at Wedding & home magazine, and i had already set up the business.

Also keeping it in the family BalBier-Wyatt (Alan Wyatt, Amanda and Charlotte) Dom BriDals (David and Chris Morton, daughters and sons-in-law) Halo & Co (sisters Nicola and Stephanie, dad Vince) Benjamin aDams (Dad Bob Shaikh, son Adam Benjamin, daughter Sophia Dervish) Dessy (Alan, sister Vivian Diamond, Mum Ronnie Dessy) riCHarD Designs (Elaine Dicks, Louise, William, Ben) And then of course there are countless retailers here in the UK where mums and daughters, aunts and cousins work together happily. Got a good story on the subject? Pass it on please.

work force From there, it has just evolved. mike is in charge of sales, Kelvin and i do the finance, i do the designing and James, our younger son, looks after iT. “it’s easy to bounce ideas off one another and we know we are all singing from the same hymn sheet. all our employees are part of the family. my factory manager walked in off the street when she was 16, looking for a job, and is now part of the management team. my accountant has been with us for 15 years. People just don’t leave. “The secret of our success? it’s the same with any company. We are all professional enough to know how to keep our work and personal lives separate and at the end of the day we know we have a business to run and staff to look out for.”

ellIs BrIdals e

Founded in a small studio F above a barber’s shop in the ab east e end of london 100 years ago ag by ada ellis, ellis bridal is now the responsibility of creative Director Regine c ellis and her son James. e “a wedding dress is the most personal purchase a girl will make. as a family brand we have an emotional connection with every dress we create. We take great pride in the hand-crafted embellishments we use as they reflect the family values the brand was founded upon.” Family, to ellis bridal, means the whole team, not just immediate family. “We have unofficial members too,” says Regine, whose husband barry is ellis’s ceO. “We have seamstresses, accountants and customer care staff who have been with us for more than 40 years and put in just as much love and attention as the ellis family. “as for the disadvantages... well, we care too much sometimes! as a family business, work sometimes comes home with us, which means that family dinners can become more like board meetings! but this is only because our love for the ellis dynasty is so great that we are unable to switch off after hours. “having two generations working together keeps the brand fresh. i am always consulting James and the other members of the team on what is happening.”

ruBy produCtIons r

based in south yorkshire, b Ruby Productions looks after R the th uK interests of the Dessy group from new york and g alfred sung bridal, callista a bride and Jade Daniels from br

canada. as The Ruby studio, michele O’neill, husband simon and daughter amanda design, manufacture and sell their own-brand prom dresses, while son michael helps out in his university vacations. “simon looks after the financial and technical side, plus growth for the Dessy group,” says michele. “my own thing is bridal though we overlap a little sometimes. amanda works on her Prom collection but helps us with the other brands where needed. “i started in bridal in 1980. amanda was born into it and spent the first weeks of her life at work. amanda has a degree in business studies and uses her skills in the family business. simon knew he had to join me or else! “it is hard to switch off at night and at weekends. We try to give our minds saturdays off, then we start planning again on sunday afternoons. all businesses have their ups and downs but as a family we all get round a table and work out what’s best to do together.”


The Dynasty brand, one of the leading occasionwear labels in the uK and europe, was established in 1998 but the original family business was founded by managing Director bhavin shah’s father as a major importer/ exporter of fashion goods. “i grew up around the family business,” says bhavin. “after university and work experience i joined permanently. all the major roles in the business are held by family members. in a family business it’s important to identify what skills you are lacking and realise that external hiring of people with the required talents is a key part of your success. “For some external employees, working in a family business may not suit. you need to let recruits know early on that they are working for a family business. That leads to better relations once they have joined. “education of family members is vital. We were not allowed to join until we had reached at least a degree level of education. i learned from an early age about key trends and how best to communicate with suppliers from my father. Keeping it in the family means you can share this knowledge and that can give the company a competitive edge. Trust and honesty are also advantages. “i would recommend forming a constitution, a rule book around the beliefs of your family about what is acceptable. This should cover things like pay structures, authority, and what happens to members who don’t pull their weight or become ill, as well as strategy and planning for new business development. Regular meetings about the direction the business is taking are useful too. and, however difficult it may be – work has to be left at work!” BB


brand new

Hello to Heritage It is always exciting to welcome a new brand to the world of bridal. When that brand comes in backed by 60 years of family experience, with three generations working side by side to create something really special, the welcome has to be a particularly warm one


The Heritage design ethos is all about pared-down, carefullyedited looks that underpin perfect cut and discreet decoration. The style is chic, the message conßdent


erItage Is part of the BalBIer Wyatt group, owned and run by founder alan Wyatt, his daughter amanda, and grand-daughter Charlotte Balbier, each of whom has given their name to some of the most successful British bridal labels of the past few years. alan originally trained as a tailor, cutting patterns and designing. In 1960, he and his wife heather opened Bride Be lovely, at the time the largest independent retail shop in the UK. he then began manufacturing bridal gowns under the Jean elizabeth label and became a market leader and trend-setter... and the first to have copies of princess Diana’s and sarah, Duchess of york’s wedding dresses on sale. alan’s daughter amanda followed in his footsteps, launching the brand that bears her name on Valentine’s Day 1994. amanda’s daughter Charlotte Balbier launched her own label in 2003; she can remember sewing dolls’ clothes with her grandmother and knew from an early age she wanted to go into the family business and design beautiful dresses too. Now the three have come together to create another collection, heritage – a name deliberately chosen in this Jubilee year to reflect the best of British design.

as, even though we are in the same offices, sometimes we are just like ships that pass in the night as we are so busy with our other labels! heritage has really given the three of us the chance to come together and put all of our individual strengths into the designs. I think the results are striking.” Certainly each team member has brought a wealth of expertise to the new brand. alan has, of course, a knowledge like no other of the bridal industry and all aspects of the business that run alongside it. he loves the creative side, but always has the stockists’ needs in mind, knowing which dress styles will always be timeless classics. amanda is famous for the fit of her dresses and for knowing exactly which fabric is right for which style. this has always been something amanda’s brides love her for, right through the size range. amanda is always conscious of making dresses for every bride-to-be whether she is a size 8 or a size 20. Charlotte, meanwhile, is the creative brains behind the process, with impeccable attention to detail. In launching the heritage brand, nothing has gone unnoticed from the most delicate dress design details right through to the stylish photography.

The name Heritage was deliberately chosen in this Jubilee year to reflect the best of British design

enthusiasm runs high

When asked about this new collection, the trio said: “We couldn’t be more excited about working together for heritage. It’s something we have always wanted to do and the timing just seemed so right, in a year that has already been so successful for Balbier Wyatt as a company. people have always asked us if we would ever join forces, and it was something that we had been mulling over for a while, and now the time is right. We just cannot wait to see the reactions from both our brides and our stockists!” the collection is definitely a collaborative affair, with all three family members making an equal contribution. as alan Wyatt says: “It has been lovely to work as a real family team on heritage

making it special

so how does the heritage brand differ from the company’s other collections? Well, for a start, it has its own personality, symbolised by a strippedback, pared-down elegat look which gives each and every gown a high designer feel, yet without the price tag. the average srp across the collection is just over £1,000. the range was designed for a bride who is contemporary in her attitude and confident in her taste. she wants simplistic beauty. she is a chic and on-trend woman and heritage is the perfect match for her. she wants her dream dress to offer the epitome of poise and polish, encompassing intricate beading, billowing skirts and elegant silhouettes. Dresses designed and created with real passion have always been what the Balbier Wyatt company is about. the new brand is already gaining column inches and the team is considering exhibiting at the new london show next year. social media is already a feature of the company’s >


promotional strategy with facebook and twitter playing a prominent role. and are already live, and the brand’s website is set to go live in November. so what makes the heritage brand so special? perhaps it’s the fact that it includes design ideas fused together from three generations of expertise. love, knowledge and creativity are the keynotes. and of course the fact that it is the only label that can boast having three family bridal designers working side by side to give the gowns they create that extra something stunning, makes the whole proposition even more inviting. although a quintessentially British brand, there is an international and cosmopolitan flavour running throughout the current collection that is reflected in the names given to the dresses – from ‘Kensington’ and ‘Walk in the park’ to ‘greece’, ‘georgia’ and ‘Barbados’. styles vary from perfectly cut a-line gowns to body-skimming fishtails, and fabrics from the most luxurious lace to lightas-gossamer chiffon which makes a dress especially suitable for the bride of today who is planning a destination or beach wedding. In short, there is something for everyone.

a sense of luxury

Balbier Wyatt is investing heavily in making its name known to brides and, importantly, in supporting its stockists

What all the dresses have in common is the sensation of opulence designed to delight the bride from the moment she steps into the gown of her dreams. there is an air of chic, simplistic elegance to every heritage piece: fabrics include rich satin, intricate lace or the ‘floating’ effect of chiffon, tulle and silk voile, and the structure is immaculate, contouring the figure to best advantage. Colour plays a role, too, in the brand’s personality; brides can choose from a glowing palette that includes traditional ivory hues, golden honey shades and even a rich crimson for the bride who wants to be different... and dramatic! With a current planned advertising budget which will see ten cent of the heritage turnover invested in promotion, the company is actively looking for stockists, all of whom will, of course, be listed on their website. there will also be automatic updates on the brand-new bridal go-to website findyourdreamweddingdress. Balbier Wyatt has always been known for quality, innovation and retailer training. as amanda Wyatt has said, the more the company can give to their stockists the greater degree of loyalty they get in return. Close personal relationships with both boutiques and brides are very much part of the Balbier Wyatt ethos. they say that they are always willing to support their stockists with social media activity and marketing materials, including (but not limited to) point-of-sale, images and any logos and graphics they may require for their own promotions. retailers interested in carrying the heritage collection should note that stockists new to the Balbier Wyatt group are welcome – heritage will be a label in its own right, albeit under the newly-merged Balbier Wyatt group. the company can offer retailers geographical exclusivity as it is planned that no two stockists should be within 30 minutes of each other. and any accessories can, of course, be bought from the ranges in the Balbier Wyatt group. the current heritage collection consists of approximately 23 dresses and there will be new collections twice-yearly. BB +44 (0)161 493 2700 /

A U T U M N / W I N T E R







EVERYTHING YOU NEED FOR THE NEW BRIDAL SEASON Browse & Buy from OVER 250 collections in the very best of Bridalwear, Occasionwear, Accessories and Menswear

10-12 MARCH 2013 For stand enquiries please contact Georgia on


Visit us on stand 601 at The White Gallery, Battersea Evolution 19-21 May 2013 0161 272 0532


SPOSA t: 01255 476049 | e: /elite sposa uk

show time

The year ahead


cEan MEdIa, as thE UK’s bridal exhibition expert, is introducing a portfolio of events designed to meet the needs of its large and diverse client base. “today, the market itself is clearly segmented,” says Events director Wendy adams, explaining the changes. “Up to five or so years ago, there were fewer specialist suppliers, and bridal retailers tended to cover a broad spectrum of product and price points; Far East production was stable so that cost and delivery lead times did not fluctuate, and the great majority of labels produced two core collections a year. In that environment, the March and september BBEh exhibitions provided the only necessary platforms for selling and buying in this industry of ours. however, recently the ingredients in the mix have changed and a rethink of strategy has been vital to ensure that the UK bridal exhibition business caters to every player – large and small – and all market conditions.” to meet those objectives, Ocean Media has created a tightly-formulated roster of annual events, starting with its long-standing March BBEh and including, as well as the highlysuccessful, designer-only White Gallery, a new London exhibition set up specifically to showcase the top-end collections offered by a hand-picked group of international manufacturers and retailers seeking early deliveries.

In recent years, there has been a shift in emphasis on supplier and retailer needs in the UK marketplace. Exhibition organisers, Ocean Media, in consultation with all sectors of tthe industry, has now put together a show schedule for 2013 which it believes will satisfy all current demands w

Planning your buying year to suit YOUR needs British Bridal Exhibition, Harrogate, 10-12 March 2013 The smaller of the long-running and highly-successful Harrogate shows and, importantly, the Ķrst exhibition on the international bridal buying calendar, BBEH March caters particularly to the suppliers that offer two collections a year, and the

retailers who wish to purchase early and secure early deliveries. The March event attracts in excess of 2,500 visitors and more than 200 collections from big names and newcomers; it is also where the prestigious Bridal Buyer Awards is staged.

White Gallery London, Battersea Park, 19-21 May 2013 Returning for the fourth year, White Gallery London has Ķrmly established itself as the showcase for the top British and international bridal designers. With an audience of leading retailers and global media, White Gallery has a strict application process in place to ensure that every exhibitor meets the criteria

that are central to the White Gallery proposition. Applicants must be able to show: – That the company is owned and operated by the designer and has been in business for more than 18 months –The designer’s qualiĶcations, experience and standing within the industry

– A proven track record for quality and design innovation – An existing network of quality stockists in the UK and abroad – The price range – The label’s market positioning – The plans and promotional budgets in place to market the label’s White Gallery presence to existing and potential customers

London Bridal Show, Olympia, 19-21 May 2013 The new London Bridal Show at Olympia provides a vibrant opportunity for manufacturers with high-end labels to take part in a show dedicated to this sector. Because it is based in the heart of the capital, this stylish exhibition, which will feature some 40 labels, will cater to both

the merchandise needs and geographic preference of the many southern-based retailers a large number of which carry the designer collections that will feature at White Gallery. Those applying for the London Bridal Show include: Alfred Sung, Amanda Wyatt, Benjamin

Roberts, Daisy Day, Decorum Bridal, Enzoani, Heirloom Waistcoats, Impression Bridal, Jasmine, Kiss the Frog, Ladybird, Liza, Mark Lesley, Mascara, MS Moda, Perfect Shoes, Prom Frocks, Ritzy Crystal, Rosa Couture, Sincerity, Tia, Veromia and Wtoo.

British Bridal Exhibition, Harrogate, 8-10 September 2013 For exhibiting information contact Wendy Adams +44 (0)1423 770120 /

Coming up for its 30th successful year – BBEH September is big business, encompassing six halls at the International Centre and three hotels, where more than 350 bridal collections are

showcased. With collections at all price points, from mass-market to designer, BBEH remains the single most important buying event for retailers of the year. Attracting over 3,500 visitors

and an ever-increasing number of overseas buyers, the vibrant September show has an enviable pedigree and the proven ability to deliver the right product to the widest audience.


white gallery y13 Widely acknowledged as the premier designer-only international bridal show, the forthcoming White Gallery London, which will be staged in Battersea in May, is already a talking point among the bridal cognoscenti

“Great venue, brilliant location, fantastic catwalk, lovely people to work with, and they are so passionate about the bridal industry. What else could a designer or a stockist want? Truly a marriage made in heaven!”

Terry Fox


0 2 n o d n lo

“We do a lot of shows around the world and the White Gallery is by far the most elegant. We are very pleased to be associated with it and are looking forward to another successful edition in May.” Stephanie Allin

“The best thing about White Gallery is that it is purely a designer show and as such provides an exclusive, sumptuous environment and luxurious atmosphere in which to present our collection.” Gemy Maalouf, Gemy Couture

“ For our 10th anniversary collection, which will debut at White Gallery next year, I have taken inspiration from my initial training at British couturier Bellville Sassoon, who taught me the basic foundation of proportion, glamour and style. “The beautiful White Gallery show in Battersea Park provides designers with handwriting to showcase their collections together, but yet privately, in an elegant and calm atmosphere. Designers work together and fashion shows are by invitation, to ensure a comfortable schedule of events for our buyers.”

“We are delighted to be introducing our 2014 Collection at the White Gallery in May. The elegant and calm environment of the show, and its central location, make it the perfect launch platform for our latest collections and those of other prestigious UK and international designers. White Gallery allows us the opportunity to meet and talk to retailers in prestigious and elegant surroundings. For 2014 we’re using beautiful silk tulles and silk chiffons and have sourced some amazing new laces. Look out for a little subtle colour in key pieces and some fantastic new cuts that are quite individual.”

Ian Stuart

Natalie Gladman, Madeline Isaac James

coming up “White Gallery is simply the best and most exciting trade event of the year bringing together the very Ķnest and most-talented designers. We have participated in the show since it started and always loved its relaxed atmosphere – it is the perfect showcase to unveil our special new designs every year. We always present special pieces from our Signature Collection of tiaras and headpieces and this year we can’t wait to present our Ivory & Co Bridalwear Collection of stunning silk wedding gowns.”

Sarah Bird and Alex Longhi, Ivory & Co

“White Gallery London is the place to show our collections. Our peers at the exhibition are the top names in the industry and buyers know they are coming to a serious exhibition. Our own ‘by invitation’ catwalk show gives us the chance to showcase the collection not only to buyers but also to the international bridal fashion press in the way that we want it to be presented in terms of styling, music, and models.Importantly, we are able to engage with our buyers in a calm and luxurious environment.”

Marguerite Hannah, Alan Hannah

“White Gallery gives top designers a head start every year.” Vivien Sheriff

“I feel that White Gallery is the perfect exhibition for all leading British bridal designers to showcase their collections and to show the rest of the world what talent there is in the UK. It’s a sophisticated and elegant show Ñtting for bridal’s crème de la crème.” Sharon Bowen, Daisi Daisi

“It’s very exciting to be starting on the 2014 collection ready for White Gallery May 2013. We are very much looking forward to another successful show with quality exhibitors and quality buyers. White Gallery sets a high standard and it is a delight to be part of such a prestige show. Angela PitcherDowdell, Blue Bridalwear

“The 2014 collection of Kisui will feature amazing silk fabrics, filigree laces, shiny embellishments and paillettes and innovative details in terms of fabric treatments and the introduction of materials like leather and even rubber! The signature style of Kisui designs will be modern, delicate, artistic and graceful.”

Kerstin Karges,Kisui

Among the fine names showing at White Gallery London 2013 are: Alan Hannah Amanda Wakeley Annasul Y Augusta Jones Babe Blue Bridalwear Chic by Hollywood Dreams Couture Veils Cymbeline David Fielden Elizabeth Stuart Fara Sposa Gemy Couture Halo & Co Harriet Wilde| Hazaar of London Hollywood Dreams HT Headwear Ian Stuart Bride Ivory & Co Gowns Ivory & Co Tiaras Jesus Peiro Katya Katya Shehurina Katzi Kisui Linea Raffaelli Little Bevan Lusan Mandongus Lyn Ashworth Madeline Isaac-James Malis Henderson MiaMia Naomi Neoh Nicki McFarlane Novia d’Art Nymphi Polly Edwards Rachel Simpson Raimon Bundo Ritva Westenius Sassi Holford Sharon Bowen Daisi Daisi Stephanie Allin Stewart Parvin Terry Fox Couture Victoria & Lucchino Vivien Sheriff Watters


Quite right

When it comes to wedding gowns, one size (or shape!) definitely doesn’t fit all. so what should you be looking out for when buying, and how can you advise brides-to-be when selling? it’s all about knowing the designer tricks of the trade, says Debbie Codd


hen a bride-to-be first stands in front of a mirror looking at herself wearing a wedding dress, there’s a lot at stake. she’s probably been dreaming about what she’ll wear on her big day since she was a little girl and, though it’s a bit of a cliché, she’ll want to look and feel like a princess. Perfect! the problem is, as we all know, that ‘perfect’ is hard to measure up to. What you have to sell her is as close to perfect as you can possibly get, which means understanding which dress is going to suit her, no matter what shape or size she happens to be. “it may sound corny, but whatever kind of figure girls have they need to embrace it,” says designer terry fox. “Probably 99 percent of women think that they have problems with their figure, from the top of their arms down to their ankles. but whatever the problem, there is always a solution – you just need to think it through.” there will always be particular designs that naturally work

better for specific body shapes, so if you know what they are, and the tricks you can use to adapt them, you’re more likely to be buying and selling the styles that brides-to-be want. the key is knowing how to accentuate the good points of a girl’s figure, and play down the bits she doesn’t like. “body shape combined with design is a question of balance,” says terry. “imagine a line drawn both horizontally and vertically through the middle of the body. if there is more below the horizontal line, it stands to reason that emphasising the design above the line will balance it out, and vice versa.” Lots of brides will lose weight before their wedding, either intentionally or from the excitement and stress of planning, but there’s no getting away from the basic body types. Most women will be curvy or slim/straight, pear or apple shaped, with maybe a large or small bust. You simply need to be able to offer advice for all of them! Veromia’s in-house designer Jason Jennings created the awardwinning sonsie by Veromia collection specifically for the curvy, confident bride. “all the dresses in the colleciton have ‘Ultimate fit’ with an internal corset which is great for the fuller figure,” explains Jason. “these dresses start at size 18 and go up to size 34, 54

though we can work with all sizes.” Jason believes that boning is crucial for creating a good silhouette. “for shape, you need good boning, and in the right places – cheap or lightweight boning tends to bend or break when you sit down. bust support is important too, which is why Veromia dresses have good boning right through the bust cups and over the tummy area.” terry fox also believes you need to keep curves under control. “Curvy figures look fabulous with structure,” she says. “sleek lines show off the curves and waist, while wide V-necks and cowl necks, three-quarter sleeves and longer skirts will elongate the curves. steer clear of frills, flounces and too much fuss – clean cut works much better.” the right dress can also tackle some of the niggly figure faults that will make a bride really self-conscious on her big day, such as ‘back cleavage’ or bulgy bits under the arms. “for anyone under size 18, the solution to back cleavage is a dress with a lace-up back, though the back of the dress does need to be lower than the front to help smooth any bulges,” says Jason Jennings. “the lace-up back can obviously be adjusted for any size and is a great way of manipulating your shape. for under-arm bulges, a sleeve or bodice which is cut higher at the front on the back of the under arm is the answer.” “one thing i’m asked by brides time and time again is how to detract from a big bust,”says terry fox. “Lots of classic wedding dresses today have a strapless bodice which goes straight across, and here you have an immediate problem for the larger-busted lady. often the short bodice is only as long as its width around the bust. this creates almost a square, which can look rather matronly. a few careful adjustments can solve the problem though. Pinching in the top centre of the bodice with a few stitches will make it dip slightly to create a more flattering neckline with a nod towards a 1950s design. You could even add a brooch for emphasis.” at the other end of the figure scale, dressing a boyish, straight-up-and-down figure has its own pitfalls. do you go with it and accentuate the lean, long lines, or try to create the illusion of curves? Low plunge necklines, cut-away armholes and thighlength splits will all play up a slimline figure, and of course have the added effect of making shorter brides look taller, too. the alternative is to go for a full-skirted dress with a built-in petticoat to change shape completely – with the option of adding extra petticoat layers if needed. BB

EvEryonE has a particular fEaturE of their body that they don’t like but, as Terry Fox explains, there are lots of tricks to disguise problem areas so that no one need ever notice them.

tops of arms

Sleeves are in, thank goodness! Three-quarter and cap sleeves are pretty, and really ßattering while boleros and shrugs will add a winning touch to an existing dress. You can even give a strapless dress a fashionable vintage touch by adding ribbon straps with little cut-out pieces of lace trailing over the top of the arms. This will give the illusion of sleeves and cleverly conceals the arms.


One of the wonders of the moment is the simple belt. This is not just because of the detailing it adds – a plain belt is just as useful as fancy beadwork. A belt cinches the waist beautifully, giving shape to an athletic Ķgure, reĶning an apple Ķgure, or just purely showing off a curvy cut. And don’t be afraid to add extra detail at the waist: a few pieces of lace for vintage, a ßower for romance, or a brooch for glamour. It all helps draw attention away from any imperfections.

large busts

For me, seams mean shape. Wherever there’s a seam, an alteration can be made. And the more seams a dress has, the more you can shape. Princess lines are perfect for this, and dipped necklines create a narrower horizontal line. Detail towards one side of the neckline will also take the symmetry away from larger boobs (symmetry will accentuate the size).

small busts

Think internal/external, and start with the lingerie. The correct padded bra will be a good foundation, and any extra fullness in the detailing of the dress will add depth. Little bits of extra lace and tulle work wonders too.

short legs

A slim-line train will create the illusion of height by making the legs look longer. I Ķnd a length of gathered tulle a fantastic way to do this.

back fat

You can easily cover the back without being too obvious. Why not try adding lace straps? Start small at the front of the dress, gradually getting larger. Bring the lace over the shoulders and down the back to meet the top of the dress. Pull Ķrmly, then then secure with tiny stitches.


A winning formula

Brides-to-be themselves decide on the gown that will win the prestigious Wedding Dress of the Year title in the 2013 Bridal Buyer Awards. The voting opened up online at the much-visited National Wedding Show website just a few weeks before the autumn event at Earl’s Court opened, and within days nominations were pouring in. The gown that consumers place at number one will be announced at the Awards Ceremony in March in Harrogate, where the Ñnalists’ dresses will be on display St y l e 6876A D + 44 ( 0) 1 90 9 7 74472 www. al f re d s u n g b r i d a l

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For awards sponsorship enquiries, contact Wendy Adams +44 (0) 1423 770120 / For ticket bookings, contact Georgia Pick +44 (0)1423 770120 /

GooGleeyed A listing on the first page of Google. It’s the Holy Grail for any website. If you’re in the bridal industry then Steve Hooper, a search engine consultant, will do his utmost to help you head up to the top


teve Hooper IS owner and founder of UK wedding Seo, a website consultancy service based in the essex town of Colchester. He set up the company in 2010 and has already helped around 90 businesses in the UK wedding industry boost their online presence: anything from dress retailers and designers to wedding photographers, planners, stationers, jewellers and florists; even a string quartet. Search engine rankings are a funny old business, involving complicated measurements and algorithms. the one you need to worry about, and that which accounts for over 80 per cent of all online searches, is of course Google. As Steve explains, to ensure a prominent spot on the first page of Google, businesses need to take into account four key elements: popularity, relevance, content and links. (See box below for the need-to-knows.) popularity is fairly self-explanatory. the more web traffic that goes to your website, the higher it will be ranked on Google. relevance is obvious, too. populate your bridal retailer website with pictures of your pets and the Google algorithm software will quickly dismiss you as redundant because it doesn’t want you to waste its customers’ time. Content is a bit more tricky. editorial articles about bridal retail are good, as are photos. But it seems video is king. In 2006 Google purchased video sharing website Youtube for the scary amount of US$1.65 billion. As far as Steve is concerned, this means video content on a website will curry much favour with Google’s ranking calculations. Finally there are links. But as Steve stresses, these have to be the correct links. “If you’re a bridal shop and you’re linked with a funeral director, what’s the point?” he says. “to get relevant links you should be guest blogging on other websites within the wedding industry. You should be talking to prominent bloggers and getting featured on different blog posts. You should be getting yourself listed on wedding directories and getting links from them back to your website.” Steve encourages his clients to be realistic about how


Going google-eyed Trying to get ranked high on a search engine? Take advice from the expert and check out Steve Hooper’s top tips

Steve Hooper from SEO consultancy UK Wedding SEO offers top tips. Make sure your site is unique. Don’t copy someone else’s website or take standard text from suppliers since Google won’t rank you high. Make sure all your title tags



and descriptions are different on every page of your website. Tags are short so you don’t get much chance to make an impact but if you have unique tags on all your pages you will get search results for more pages. Target your website content


for the people who will be visiting your website. Don’t write it for the search engines. The algorithms, especially in Google, are getting clever and can work out where text has been adapted to get higher ranking. Be a blogger. Write interesting,


make it happen wide they cast their nets in search of new clients. He advises people to think of Google as a giant Yellow pages phone book. “when you get the Yellow pages delivered through the door, it’s targeted just to the area that you live in. that should be the same with a bridal retailer’s website. A lot of the small retailers think ‘oh my God, I need to be ranked number one for weddings’. But that’s never going to happen because the bigger websites are always going to outrank them.” He says he can use keywords and computer programmes that would send “tens of thousands of people to your website”. But if they’re not looking to buy the dresses or accessories on your website then they will immediately leave. “You want the people who come to your website to be 100 per cent targeted to what you are offering,” he says. So, instead of featuring generic keywords such as ‘wedding dress’ which would attract millions to the site but possibly none who would later actually visit your shop premises, much better to feature precisely targeted keywords such as “wedding dress Harrogate”, ‘wedding dress south Manchester” or “wedding dress outer Hebrides” so as to attract local brides to your shop. “Bridal retailers would be better off having just 10 website visitors a day buying from their shop rather than 5000 visitors a day who don’t buy anything.” Steve has years of experience working on websites and internet technology. In the early 2000s he studied mathematical algorithms at Harvard University. prior to that he had been working in website design and It. His company consists of himself and two employees plus a dozen or so freelancers. As well as UK wedding Seo he also (rather bizarrely, if you think about it) runs an Seo consultancy for divorce lawyers. “All I need now is a dating website and I’ll have the lot,” he jokes. As well as search engine consultancy, UK wedding Seo also offers website maintenance, website design and internet consultancy. For the Seo work he charges clients from £150 to £750 a month, depending on the support they require. He is soon to launch a new package aimed at bridal dress designers which they would be able to pass on for free to the retailers that stock their designs.

with so many clients in the wedding industry it can be difficult to ensure they all rank highly on Google. So Steve guarantees exclusivity by representing only one client per county in each field of business. It would, after all, be impossible to have two bridal retailers in the same county ranked number one on Google. one success story he is most proud of is a Hertfordshirebased wedding make-up artist called Make-Up By Katy. Based in Hertfordshire, Katy wanted to boost her business and get bridal make-up jobs from London brides as well as Hertfordshire brides. She recruited UK wedding Seo to redesign her website, to embed keywords in it that would attract internet searches, and to build links from other websites. Steve says that, once this was complete, she found herself ranked in the top three on a Google search for “make-up artists in London”. She is now so successful that she’s thinking of starting an agency for make-up artists. Many of Steve’s clients are bridal dress retailers. He cites the example of one in tonbridge wells and one in Harrogate. with a bit of clever Seo work Steve ensured that the former ranked top on Google whenever someone typed in “wedding dress tonbridge wells”, and the latter ranked top whenever someone typed either “York wedding dress” or “Yorkshire wedding dress”. Ultimately, though, there are no hard and fast rules to guarantee a listing at the top of Google. “Google are never going to tell you how to get listed high because then that will give you all the advantages [over competitors],” Steve explains. “to get a straight answer from Google about Seo ranking is like pulling teeth. they keep shifting the goalposts. Just last year, for example, the Google algorithm was updated 1300 times. Little tweaks here and little tweaks there.” which goes to prove you can never be complacent about your Google ranking. Just as you think you’ve created a brilliant bridal retail website, with lots of traffic and a high search engine ranking, suddenly Google changes the way it ranks websites. that’s why you need an expert like Steve to guide you through the minefield. Is he really the expert he claims to be? Just before preparing this article for publication we typed two words into Google: ‘wedding’ and ‘seo’. Guess which company came top. BB

You want people who come to your website to be 100 percent targeted to what your are offering

helpful content on a regular basis. Write about anything related to your business – events, new products, special customers etc. This raises your authority and keeps your website fresh. Use social media to talk to people. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube


and Google+ all help people Ķnd you and all create a buzz about your website. Don’t simply promote your business. Actually communicate with people. You will build a reputation for helping people. This will win you referrals and help people Ķnd you.

links into *yourGetwebsite because this will ensure search engines give you authority. Get listed on online directories that concentrate on your town or county. This will help you get ranked for local keywords and phrases. Guest blog on


other websites. There will be hundreds of websites out there looking for interesting content. Email them your ideas and get to know them on social media. If you end up writing for them this will win trafĶc to your website. Install Google


analytics but don’t become obsessed with the number of visitors. The quality of visitors is far more important than the quantity. Video ranks well and gives you authority. If you don’t have budget for professional video then simply use your


smartphone to make short clips. Upload them to YouTube and embed them in your website on a relevant page. Video is the fastest and easiest media to get ranked. Target your precise audience. Don’t try to rank highly with generic


key words such as ‘wedding dress’. Much better to go for ‘East Midlands wedding dress’ or ‘Benjamin Roberts label wedding dress East Midlands’. Guess which search is more likely to result in a sale.


Image: Benjamin Roberts

After a successful launch in 2012, join the London Bridal Show at its exciting, new venue of London Olympia in 2013. Enjoy this stylish mid-season preview of 40 labelsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; new 2014 Spring/Summer Collections in the heart of the capital.

19-21 MAY 2013 London Olympia


the right message

You & your website

Claire Snewin of You & Your Wedding has taken on the role of Bridal Buyer’s own website guru and will be happy to answer questions about making the most of your online presence

I use lots of photographs sent in by happy brides on my website and I’d like to learn how to make these images look their best. I’ve been thinking about taking a Photoshop course but I have no idea what is available or how dif¿cult it might be. Where do I start? Giving yourself the skills to improve and develop your website is a great idea. Learning how to use design tools like Photoshop is a brilliant starting point and can help you feel more confident when it comes to updating your site. There are lots of courses available that offer everything from the basics to advanced skills so it really depends on how much you want to learn and how much time you have to invest. To find courses near you, try the National Careers Service ( Their website is user-friendly and lets you search by both subject and location.

What is your view of website templates that you can buy and then personalise? There seems to be a lot of ads on television and what they show looks really good. I don’t have much money to invest but would like something modern and fresh that I can manage myself.

There are lots of companies that offer this service and it can be a great way to get started online. The services they provide can vary, from cost to levels of customisation, so it’s worth doing your homework. When picking which company to go with, consider whether they have the URL you want available (this should ideally be the name of your shop to make sure brides-to-be can find you on an internet search) and the amount of server space you need (as this may affect how many images you can upload and whether you will be able to build dress galleries) as well as the aesthetics, like whether their range of colours and fonts complement your boutique.

one really strong, well-performing website than two lacklustre ones. If you’d like to separate your motherof-the-bride collections from your bridal offerings, first consider creating a new host page for the MOB merchandise within your current website. Add a clickthrough button on the home page that links visitors through to the new page. This could be decked out in different colours from your main site and carry images of the occasionwear designs you stock. And remember to include some SEO-friendly introductory text featuring key terms like mother-of-the-bride and occasionwear to help search engines find the new page online.

The idea of having an online Àick-through book really appeals to me. I’d like to use it to demonstrate a bride’s journey, from visiting the shop and looking at dresses, to trying on one or two, and her ¿nal princess look. How do I get this up and running? These flick-books are referred to online as PDF flipbooks. They organise images into a magazinestyle virtual book. They’re particularly good for brides-to-be who are browsing with tablet computers; flipbooks are a fun way to show off all the lovely things your boutique has to offer. Speak to your web designer to see if your site already has access to this software or if you would need to invest in it. You’ll need plenty of good-quality images to fill the pages of your flipbook so a good starting point may be to build one featuring your best-selling dresses or a selection of your newest designs using high-res images provided by the designers themselves.

Flipbooks are a fun way to show off all the lovely things that your boutique has to offer brides-to-be

my website currently lists all the different categories of merchandise I carry but would I be better off having a completely separate site for my mOB occasionwear? and if so, what can I do to differentiate between them? Is a change of colour suf¿cient? Two websites mean twice the amount of time and effort, so before you go any further, assess whether you have the resources to make this happen. It’s much better to have

I’m thinking about making some changes to my website but I’m not sure which parts need updating and I don’t want to remove things that are doing well. How can I ¿nd out which parts of my website are producing results? If you’re looking for tools to help you track your web traffic, Google Analytics is a great service that you should sign up for and the good news is, the basic package is free! It lets you see which pages are most popular, helping you to pinpoint areas that need improving. It also reveals trends in visitor interaction to help you attract more users. Go to to find out more about the services it provides. BB


clip-on roses, set of six, £5

dancing girl, pack of three. 48p

bauble wreath, ‘anngersk’, from habitat, £25

novelty baubles, iced decorations and mistletoe fairy lights, from a selection at next

silver rattan star wreath, £9.88

SeaSon’S greetingS There’s no question about it, your windows sell your business. Regular – very regular – display changes are essential, and introducing a particular theme, be it seasonal or topical, maximises interest. And right now, with Christmas just weeks away, there are plenty of attentiongetting props available outsized fake ice cubes, from £8.50

illuminating mercury glass angel, from next, £10 64

festival thoughts going for gold with a selection from tesco, from 48p

sparkling little rudolphs, £7

wooden penguin from selfridges 30.5cm high, £19.95

silver and pearl wreath from John lewis, £15 getting the look together from the ‘dobbies’ range at tesco


festival thoughts glittering beaded lily from dzd, from £5.65 020 7388 7488

spotted and checkered hanging hearts, ‘Julmys’, pack of 4, £2.50

golden wreath of individual accessories, from 48p, and picture frame, 89p, from tesco

silver scroll bell christmas tree, from debenhams, £8

red berry christmas garland lights, 1.8m, £19.50 (3 for 2 offer)

glass baubles, from a selection at ikea, two-pack, £8. garland of mini bells, ‘meribel’, from habitat, £10 66


on the phone to...

Ian Stuart

Thee multi-award multi aw d winning designer has long promoted up-and-coming names in bridal Brilliant news that you are once again sponsoring the Best Student Designer category in the Bridal Buyer Awards 2013. Why is this category so close to your heart? I was also once a student with ambitions, dreams and making that into reality is a daunting prospect! So do you think the industry as a whole should make provisions to bring on new, young (and as yet untried) talents? Yes – it could certainly benefit some of the labels who compile their collections by cherry picking in Asia. Do you let your interns actually get involved with your design processes, and in what way? They learn all aspects of daily life in the studio, from design to booking models to creating shows. I always encourage them to voice their opinions and get involved in the whole process from first sketches to finished sample! What are your greatest influences today? Music – mainly classical – high fashion, interior design, travel, art and people! How have you found the market in the past couple of years? Has in been tough, even at your top-end? For bridal, I believe everyone and every price point (especially low) has seen a dip in sales over the past two years. The bridal market has become more international; there are more labels, more designers, more internet shops, and less brides! However, I truly believe that brides are STILL buying into a label and they want to be different from their friends. Advertising is very important to keep the name

When you left College were you clearly focused on bridal and why? My final show at Berkshire College of Art & Design was all bridal. There were only a few bridal designers then and you could count the manufacturers on one hand. I wanted to make theatrical costumes but there was no money in that area and I needed to pay off my student loans, so I figured that bridal was the closest type of clothing to the theatrical world, and one in which you could make a living!

How far in advance of each new collection do you have a picture in your mind about what you will be doing? My bridal collection is designed eight months in advance and occasionwear six months. I start with fabric and colour selection, then shapes, and then the mood of the collection slowly evolves and creates itself.

How would you personally describe your own, highlydistinctive style? Theatrical, coquettish, romantic and unafraid.

out there as we are nurturing a new set of brides-to-be every few months! Our best-selling gowns tend to be more expensive and ‘different’ pieces. Are retailers becoming more cautious, or are they simply more single-minded and discriminating when it comes to making purchasing decision? I believe smart retailers are more cautious during this time, but not necessarily penny pinching… it’s not the quantity of what you buy, it’s all about having a good representation and a varied collection to show your brides.

How many stockists do you have for Ian Stuart Bride, and your MOB collection Ian Stuart London? Ian Stuart Bride has 200 world-wide stores and Ian Stuart London has 100. Have you been surprised by the success of your occasionwear? I have been surprised at how fast it has grown. I think the collection has been successful because of the type of store it has been placed in. How many awards have youpicked up over the years? Bridal Buyer Awards, Best British Bridal designer, five times; in 2012, RBA, best gown supplier over £1,500; Wedding Ideas, Best Mother of the Bride Collection; Bridal Buyer Awards, Best Occasionwear Collection. In 2008, Bridal Buyer Awards, Outstanding Contribution to the Industry. DBI awards in 2001 and 2002 and Brides [& Setting Up Home] in 1998. Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? I would like to continue building our brand and our collections. Next year is our 10th anniversary, and we are looking forward to the next ten years! BB









Image by Sassi Holford


19-21 MAY 2013 B AT T E R S E A PA R K , L O N D O N

03 01

iT’s Your business

Business things you should know

Our latest round-up of advice to keep you well informed

Get Organised

In a highly-pressurised world, it’s easy to become disorganised. But by putting a little time aside it shouldn’t be too hard to get back on the straight and narrow says Adam Bernstein Time

First, learn to prioritise ruthlessly. Ask yourself ‘what will happen if I don’t do this?’ If the answer is ‘nothing’, then you can afford not to do it. By the same token, divide your tasks into ‘must do now’, ‘must do this week’, and ‘nice to do’. Make a list, and ensure that all the ‘must do now’ tasks are done before the others. Keep your basic housekeeping up to date. If something you see might come in useful later, get it filed in the right place. By extension, handle each piece of paper once. Decide quickly whether it needs action now, reading now but no action, reading some time, or not reading at all. You should diarise due dates for payment of tax noting that VAT is generally due one month after the end of the quarter; Self Assessment is due on 31 January and 31 July; and Corporation Tax is nine months after the business year-end. You can add returns due to HMRC to the list – for example, personal tax returns are due by 31 October (paper) or 31 January (online). It’s worth noting that HMRC will issue fines if you not only fail to pay tax owed but also fail to send in a return on time. Remember to take Bank Holidays into account when making the payments. Of course, to stay up to date you’ll need an organiser – whether it’s an old-fashioned Filofax, smartphone or desktop software such as Outlook – and use it. Electronic is best; not only is the information much harder to lose, it’ll have a ‘to do’ list that can carry over your tasks from day to day.


Train those you correspond with to tell you what they want you to do with any emails or letters they send you. A lot of time is taken up with ‘for your information’ emails. Do you really need to know? All emails should start with a statement of what you are expected to do: ‘Let me know if this client has paid his bill’ or ‘please tell me whether you think we should go ahead or not.’ Always reply to email directed at you. If staying in contact – and especially email – is an issue, consider subscribing to an email service offering Microsoft Exchange that keeps data ‘in the Cloud’. It can be had for as little as £40/year and once online, you can not only synchronise tasks, calendars and contacts across your computers and smartphones, but you can also

create an email account with a number of folders for common items, each of which will also synchronise across devices. You can also create multiple calendars that can be viewed individually or simultaneously – work, home, birthdays etc. Learn to say ‘no’. For the sake of politeness, give your reasons, but learn to tell people if it is impossible to do what they want. It’s vital that people respect your need to finish one task before you go on to another – except when situations require really urgent action. Agree a list of things, or people, that you can be interrupted for. To save time in meetings make sure you have an agenda and that it includes the subjects to be discussed and what the desired outcome of the meeting should be. And if you don’t think you need to be at the meeting, don’t go.

AND NoW... You

Don’t work stupid hours. We all have a physical limit to how much we can do and beyond that you’ll get less work done for each extra hour worked. A 12-hour day is probably the limit for most people. Can you delegate any of your work? If it involves things that others are working with every day – for instance, collating accounts or running the shop – it’ll be money well spent. Many people don’t like to give up responsibility. However, if you keep trying to do all the work, you will demotivate those (such as a spouse) who help you. Find some strategies for cutting short phone calls and meetings. Get someone to ring or text you when you think a conversation or meeting should end. Failing that, there are apps for smartphones that will send a fake text or pretend to ring you at a pre-arranged time. Being organised in itself will make life simpler and this necessitates investing time looking at how information – paper or electronic – is stored, retrieved and protected. Accounts paperwork is the perfect example; consider buying plastic pockets which are used to store each month’s purchase receipts and a sturdy folder for invoices issued. At the same time, enter all new items into your accounts regularly, daily or weekly. This will keep you up to date, will make your returns to HMRC simpler and save on accountancy fees. On a different tack, don’t save all documents on your computer into the standard directory and then hope to retrieve everything on a search. Instead, create directories for each job, client and subject, keeping commonsense and what works for you uppermost in your mind. Protect your data with numerous backups that are kept offsite – hard drives do fail and computers do get stolen. BB >

To save time in meetings, make sure you have an agenda and that it includes the subjects to be discussed and what the desired outcome should be


iT’s Your business


Wish You Weren’t Here?

According to Mark Stevens, a solicitor at Veale Wasbrough, rulings about sickness and annual leave can create something of a problem for employers


MPLOYERS COuLD BE FORGIVEn FOR lacking sympathy with an employee who returns from a holiday complaining that they were so sick during their annual leave that they couldn’t properly enjoy it – particularly if the employee is sporting a suspiciously healthy looking tan. However, a European Court of Justice case, Asociación nacional de Grandes Empresas de Distribución (AnGED) v Federación de Asociaciones Sindicales, deals with just this situation and, whilst it makes no comment where an employer’s sympathy should lie, it does come to a very clear and potentially surprising conclusion: an employee who is unwell during their annual leave can require their employer to reschedule their annual leave to a later date. An employee cannot be unwell and take their annual leave at the same time. How does this work in practice?

The imPAcT of sickNess oN ANNuAl leAve

An employee continues to accrue statutory holiday during sickness absence, even if they are absent for the whole holiday year. This means that an employee who has exhausted their sick pay entitlement could request to take paid holiday during their sickness absence. It is generally agreed that employees who are not permitted to take their statutory holiday while they are on sick leave are allowed to carry holiday over to the next holiday year. But what happens in circumstances where an employee becomes sick before or during their annual leave? In the AnGED v Federación de Asociaciones Sindicales case, a Spanish collective agreement did not allow for workers to postpone annual leave where it coincided with sick leave for general ill heath. The matter was referred to the Court of Justice of the European union (CJEu). The CJEu held that Eu law precludes any national laws that do not allow workers to take the annual leave that coincides with a ‘period of unfitness’ at a later date. The CJEu emphasised that the right to paid annual leave was an important principle of Eu law from which there can be no exemptions. The CJEu also held that the re-scheduled period of annual leave may be taken outside the relevant holiday year if necessary.

consulting on amending uK regulations to reflect the European position. With this in mind employers should have clear policies in place setting out the circumstances in which employees will be entitled to re-schedule annual leave. There should also be a requirement that the usual notification and evidence requirements are met by any employee who claims to be sick in whatever circumstances. An employee may be inclined to ‘take advantage’ of the opportunity to re-schedule holiday if they are required to telephone their employer first thing in the morning on their day off in order to confirm that they would prefer to take that day off as sick leave. This also ensures a consistent approach to absence across the business and avoids someone turning back up to work after a week’s holiday complaining of being too ill to enjoy their holiday. It is also worth reviewing sickness policies, in particular around the payment of any contractual sick pay over and above Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), which can be made contingent upon the production of medical evidence that states that the employee was unfit for work. Having said that, an employer must be careful as to the extent that it requires medical evidence before paying an employee their entitlement to SSP. Employers cannot insist on a doctor’s statement for the first seven days of sickness absence or for a period of absence of less than seven days as a condition of paying SSP. HMRC states that employers are entitled to ask for reasonable evidence of incapacity such as a doctor’s statement after the first seven days of sickness absence. Employers would also be wise to have a policy that an employee may only re-schedule their statutory holiday entitlement, as opposed to any additional entitlement to annual leave that they might have under the terms of their contract of employment. As set out in the panel, a full time employee is entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks leave per year. Some employers may offer more than the minimum level of holiday entitlement and, if so, the annual leave policy should make clear that the opportunity to re-schedule holiday will only apply to the statutory element of their holiday entitlement, which for a full time employee would be the first 28 days, pro-rated for part time workers.

employers should have clear policies in place setting out the circumstances in which employees will be entitled to reschedule annual leave

besT PrAcTice

Employers will have to be flexible in their approach to their employees’ requests to postpone annual leave if they are sick before or during their holiday. uK courts and tribunals will need to seek to interpret current uK legislation in a manner compatible with the CJEu’s decision. The government is 72

if The rules Are NoT folloWeD

The uK courts and tribunals are yet to hear a case from an employee arguing that they were not allowed to re-schedule holiday because of sickness. It is likely that where a complaint is well-founded, the tribunal will make a declaration to that effect and may make an award of such compensation as is fair in all the circumstances, having regard to the employer’s failure and any loss sustained by the employee as a result. Employees could also potentially pursue a claim in an employment tribunal if they suffer a detriment as a result of asking their employer to re-schedule their holiday as a result of sickness. An employer should bear this in mind when considering its employee’s request and ensure that it avoids treating the employee differently in future. BB

iT’s Your business


Is Your Business Over-rated?

Louise Hebborn, an associate solicitor Stephensons Solicitors LLP, looks at rateable values of a business and explains how to challenge and save on tax


uSInESS RATES ALOnG WITH REnT AnD employees form a large part of the fixed costs that businesses have to pay. While many believe that a rates demand, once received, must be paid without question, there are others who know that the system does have leeway. Business rates are a tax on property and all business premises are given a rateable value by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) in England and Wales. The basic level of rateable value usually remains fixed for a five-year period. The rateable values that became effective on 1 April 2010 were based on open market rental values on 1 April 2008. The next revaluation comes into force on 1 April 2015. The amount of business rates payable is calculated using the rateable value and a multiplier, which is set by the government. This multiplier usually changes each year in line with inflation. Currently, the standard multiplier in England is 42.6p. A building with a rateable value of £50,000 would be liable for annual business rates of £21,300. There are reductions for businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR). Despite calls for rates to be frozen during such tough economic times, the government implemented an increase in April 2012 of 5.6%. The increase also came at a time when many businesses are facing uncertain futures and struggling to make a profit.

chAlleNge A vAluATioN

Business rates can often be challenged through an official appeal process. There are three grounds to appeal - the new valuation was wrong; the property has been changed and should be reflected in the rateable value; or an alteration made to the valuation is wrong. There are various ways to challenge a rating and businesses should seek advice from a professional advisor including a solicitor, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, the Ratings Surveyors Association, or the VOA. Businesses who want to challenge their rating themselves, can contact the local VOA to state why they consider the valuation to be incorrect. It can also be done online at www. The VOA will acknowledge the appeal within ten working days and check if it’s valid. If it is, they may visit the property. If it is a material change, say, alterations have been made to the property or the use of the property has changed, then a visit may not be required.

PlAN b

There are various other ways to seek to lower liability. There have been instances of businesses shutting off floors of their premises to reduce their bill significantly;

if part of the building is empty and not being used, it can qualify for rate relief. Likewise, an empty property is exempt from paying rates for three months after it becomes vacant. If the premises are an industrial/warehouse building, it would gain a further three months relief. If the building only has a rateable value of up to £12,000, 100 percent relief is available in this financial year (2012/13) and up to 50 percent in the subsequent years. Those with a rateable value from £12,000 to £17,999 can also make use of SBRR mentioned previously. Businesses that relocate to one of the new Enterprise Zones can take advantage of a 100 percent relief to their ratings bill for five years. There are 21 Enterprise Zones planned, with projects announced in Cheshire, Essex, Cornwall, Gosport, Hereford, Humber Estuary, Leeds, Sheffield, Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Derby, nottingham, the Black Country, the Tees Valley, the West of England and the north East. Rural businesses will also be eligible for relief, aimed at encouraging small businesses to remain open in more remote areas.

Time To PAY

Business owners and property owners will receive the rate demand from the local authority each year in April. There is a choice of ways to pay including spreading the cost over ten months to help with cash flow. Businesses that are experiencing particular hardship should contact their local authority. They have the power to provide rate relief for struggling companies. The government created the Business Rates Deferral Scheme to help businesses spread the increase in the current financial year’s bill across three years; it enables companies to reserve paying 3.2 percent of the current year’s bill (60 percent of the retail price index rise) until 2013/14 and 2014/15. Road improvements, road closures and upgrades to transport infrastructure can sometimes be disruptive and restrict access for deliveries and customers. Businesses concerned about how local disruption impacts on their livelihood could take a variety of routes. Traders in Rochdale contacted their local MP when improvement work to the Metrolink tram station impacted on their livelihood. Their MP called for a reduction in business rates for affected traders. under current law, there is no compensation available for loss of trade. But, for disruption over a sustained period, it may be possible to apply for a temporary reduction in the applied business rate, because the highway works may have affected the rental value of the premises over that period. If a business is affected by local disruption, they can also contact their VOA directly, to lodge an appeal to attempt to have the rateable value reduced for the period of time that the works continue. While it may not always be possible to reduce business rates liability, there is a multitude of options available to businesses and an experienced advisor will be able to assist in identifying possible reductions. For more information visit BB

businesses that relocate to one of the new enterprise Zones can take advantage of a 100 per cent relief to their ratings bill for ¿ve years. Rural businesses will also be eligible for relief



Top must-have gizmos

A Christmas present for yourself, or a sensible addition to your working accoutrements? Whatever, says Chris Partridge, you’ll want at least one of these hot new products



Livescribe digitaL pen

This is a def toys-for-the-boys job, but one any femme will Ķnd hard to resist. Use your smartphone to control this brilliant model car – turn it to steer and tilt it forwards to put the pedal to the metal. It is very intuitive, though you’ll need to remember to turn the phone in the opposite direction when the car is coming towards you. Remote control apps are available for iOS and Android devices – but Apple fans pay more because of what Apple charges for app approval. £50 (iOS); £40 (Android)

The Livescribe pen allows you to record audio and make notes on paper, and links the two. Later, you can listen to what was being said at any point in the meeting simply by pressing the nib on the note you made. You get a complete record, and because you don’t need to note down every word you can concentrate on what is being said. And you can sketch designs on the special digital paper, transfer it to your computer and email it to the client in a matter of seconds. £70



beeWi mini cooper s

pure avaLon FreevieW box Famous for its digital radios, Pure has moved into TV with its Avalon set-top box featuring an internal hard disc so you can record programmes as well as watch. Installation is a piece of cake - just connect to your wiĶ network, scan for broadcast signals and you are away. The electronic programme guide is easy to navigate and very slick, with lots of fancy fades and wipes, but the main attraction is the dual tuner and massive hard drive so you can record two channels at once. £300 (500GB) or £350 (1TB) 74

6] nikon cooLpix p510 superzoom camera Superzoom or bridge cameras are getting longer zoom ranges all the time, and the latest Nikon sports is an incredible 42x. It goes from a wide angle that will enable you to get all the wedding party in without having to retreat backwards out of the reception hall, to a telephoto that will allow you to capture the ‘I do’ moment from the back of a cathedral. Anti shake and a backlit sensor help get perfect shots at long distances and in low light. £300


v-moda crossFade m-80 headphones Designed with women in mind, the Crossfade bins can be customised with shields engraved with your own personal design. The sound is big, ideal for rock and pop and the construction is robust, including a metal chassis designed to isolate the ear from outside sounds. £150

Jabra soLemate Loudspeaker A tablet is a great way of showing designer videos to brides, but the sound is rubbish. The Jabra Solemate external loudspeaker pumps out a great noise when connected to your tablet by a simple-to-set-up Bluetooth wireless link. It is small enough to carry around but the sound will Ķll the shop. £125


asus zenbook Laptop

eLgato eyetv Watch Freeview wherever you are on your iPad or Android tablet with this clever German-designed gizmo. Just download the app, plug it in to the docking port and choose the channel you want. Couldn’t be simpler (though it does need a reasonably strong signal so you might not be able to watch in remote country districts). £65



macLocks LockabLe ipad stand So you are using an iPad as a display screen in the shop, but you don’t want anyone ‘accidentally’ popping it in their bag while your back is turned. The solution is a Maclock, a stylish, lightweight stand with a chunky security lock visible on the side so the light-Ķngered don’t even try to pinch it. £36

Apple started something with its ultra-light, ultra-slim Macbook Air laptops, and now Asus have a computer that is as slim and light but considerably cheaper. Many would say it is just as stylish as the Apple icon, with its machined aluminium case and bright screen. It runs Windows 7, the memory is super-robust solid state and the processor comes from Intel. £775

STRONG opinion

12] 10]

samsung gaLaxy siii smartphone Smartphones are getting enormous, with screens big enough to watch videos, consult maps, show photos and even do a bit of work on. The Galaxy SIII has been a monster hit since it arrived earlier this year, combining the big screen with a light and thin casing. Battery life is acceptable, and with its superb camera it could be the only gizmo you need to carry. Its smartest feature? If you get a text from a friend and you want to ring back, all you have to do is raise the phone to your ear and it will dial the number automatically. Cool, or what? £500 payg, free on contract

vieWsonic pro9000 proJector The latest Viewsonic projector has no lamp - the light is generated by a combination of leds and lasers, which run at lower temperatures so the fan noise is much reduced. They are also much longer-lasting, so you don’t have to replace blown lamps at huge cost every Ķve minutes. The picture is bright and vibrant, and the colour fringes that bedevil some projectors are eliminated by removing the colour wheel. £1,600

The wire that dangles down to your music player is really irritating and not very stylish, so these Bluetooth wireless earpieces are a delight to wear. Light and comfortable, they give a rich sound once they are ‘paired’ to your phone or MP3. Ditching the wire means you can even listen on your tablet, which is not very practical if you have to carry it around. If used with your mobile phone, the headphones will alert you to incoming calls and allow you to pause the music while you take them. Drawback: another thing to keep charged. £35

sharing information about websites that are selling counterfeit goods or operating outside of the accepted industry parameters. I was informed, by this particular company, that I was within my rights to report the thread and that the content would be reviewed. However, I don’t have the time to ‘police’ all the forums all of the time. At BBEH in March, I spoke at length with one of our designers about the forums. What I said about the online shopping promotion that goes unchecked was something of a revelation to them, especially since one wedding-planning website, who have a well-used forum, had recently been trying to sell them £4,000-worth of advertising... an investment that they were strongly questioning given what I had told them. It is not my intention to cut the income of online forums; they are a fabulous space for brides-to-be to share thoughts and gain inspiration. However, I don’t think it is a coincidence that there is an increasing trend for purchasing bridal and bridesmaid dresses online when there are a number of forums that are, inadvertently, supporting this pattern. What I want is this: To raise awareness: Are designers and bridal shops aware that they are spending thousands of pounds on advertising on websites where the forums (by their inaction) support the practice of buying online? That at the very least forum rules should state that they do not endorse illegal practices (such as the sharing of websites selling counterfeit goods) and that the posting of such sites is against the rules. A call to action: Whilst I appreciate that there is a legal issue with moderation I am aware that forums are reviewed for content (on more than one occasion I have seen posts removed for not meeting forum rules) and during this review posts recommending online buying should be shut down and deleted. At this point I would like to give a special mention to UK Brides who have rules regarding this issue and do indeed enforce them on their website. Understandably some get missed but they are the only forum I have noticed actively battling against this issue by removing weblinks to online sellers in posts. Start being honest with brides: The ethos of creating an illusion of magic for brides-to-be can lead to serious disappointment (the hen weekend culture is a huge example of this. If a friend of the bride cannot bring herself to stump up £500 for a weekend in Barcelona for the hen then all manner of upset and feet stamping can go on). When I spoke to a magazine about a feature warning brides about the perils of buying online and the risks they may face with inferior dresses, copies and little or no come back I was met with an immediate reaction of: “Why would we do that? That isn’t a happy subject” The other by-product of online website swaps and recommendations is the endorsement of the public perception that the bridal industry goes all out to “rip brides off”. How often have you heard the phrase “put the word ‘wedding’ in front of something and you can double the price”? Naturally brides are questioning why they can buy a dress online for less than half the price it costs in a bridal shop. It requires ‘trusted’ sources in the industry, such as the publications and planning websites to burst this myth. After all, if more shops cease to exist because they are losing business to online retailers, it follows on that designers will have fewer stockists and that, ultimately, there will be fewer companies operating and less money available to fund advertising. Will we have to reach that point before our partners in the industry; the owners of the publications and the online forums, take notice? BB



13] pLantronics bLuetooth headphones

continued from page 23




googLe nexus 7 tabLet The big new thing in tablet computers is a smaller size - 7in screens against the iPad’s 10in. The Nexus 7 showed the way, appealing to many iPad refuseniks with its pocket-sized dimensions and wallet-light price. The screen is proportioned to watch videos comfortably and its Android operating system is easy and intuitive to use, but check that your favourite apps are available on the Google market before buying. £200 (16GB version)



The Vintage Wedding Dress Company at White Mischief Bridal

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Three dedicated bridal areas, offering retailers a comprehensive platform to display and sell their collections: • THE BRIDAL ZONE offers top brands at exclusive prices • THE BOUTIQUE AREA creates a more exclusive boutique feel for retailers stocking bridal labels • THE DESIGNER AREA offers designers and boutiques an environment to display their high end collections

LegaL EAglE

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


an you explain the law about names for businesses? the shop i have recently bought carries a name i do not like and i would choose to change it to my own name. however, my name, quirkily enough, is the same as that of a particular bridalwear designer (whose collection i do not carry). is there anything to stop my using my name for the business? Do i need any permissions?

It will be necessary to check whether the bridalwear designer has a registered trademark, if so this will provide statutory protection for the exclusive use of the mark in the United Kingdom. However, if the bridalwear designer is unregistered then it is likely that she will still be protected under the common law action of passing off. For a successful passing off action the other bridalwear designer must show that there is particular goodwill attached to her product; that there has been a misrepresentation, such as confusion between the products and, thirdly, this is likely to cause damage to the other business, i.e. lost customers and/or damaged reputation. If the business operates locally or if there is any risk of confusion among customers, you should pick again, especially as the very nature of the business is specialist and reputation-dependent. If you don’t, you run the risk of being sued for passing off. Obtaining the other bridalwear designer’s consent, (unlikely in itself), to the use of the name would be a solution, however this could have future connotations should your business expand. As it is very costly to prove or defend a passing off action, the way forward would be for you to select a new name, ensuring that it is not taken, and register it as a trademark. By registering it as a trademark you will protect your brand and it will be easier to take legal action against the infringement of your mark rather than rely on a passing off action. i recently ordered something online that caught my eye as an ideal display prop for my shop. i paid for it by card but have heard nothing from the company and, rather foolishly, i did not take a note of its name or contact details so i can’t even tell if the transaction has gone through my bank account. what should i do (other than kick myself)?

In the first instance you should contact your bank and/orr credit card provider to work out whether this payment has been processed. Any information such as the date of the order or the amount paid would be helpful. If your card has been debited then the figure will be noted on the statement and you will be able to trace it. If you order something and it does not arrive, is faulty, or is not what you ordered then it is likely that the supplier will be in breach of contract. However, you are likely to be protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 if you paid by credit card and the amount is between £100 and £30,000. Section 75 holds the credit card provider ‘jointly and severally’ responsible, imposing equal liability on the creditor for breaches by the supplier. Therefore you will be able to claim a refund from the supplier, the credit card provider, or both. Section 75 does not in itself provide claim against a supplier. Customers must have a valid claim for breach of contract or misrepresentation. It is likely that if payment was taken and no goods were received then the supplier will be in breach of contract for failure to provide goods. In this case, if you are unable to contact the supplier of the goods, the best course of action would be for you to request a Section 75 claim form from your credit card provider which you should complete and send back to them. If you are having difficulty pursuing a claim against your credit card provider you can report them to the Financial Ombudsman. what are the rulings about paying casual labour nowadays? i get the odd uni friend of my son and daughter to help out when we have designer days or other instore events and, obviously, they would like to be paid in cash (almost certainly so that they can go and spend it immediately afterwards socialising). we are talking about £50 here and there. It is illegal for you to pay cash in hand to an employee without deducting tax and national insurance contributions from their wage. You, as an employer, have a legal obligation to operate PAYE on the payments to employees if their earnings reach the National Insurance Lower Earnings Limit (LEL). For the current tax year this is £107 a week, £464 a month or £5,564 a year. Furthermore, as an employer, you are legally obliged to pay your workers at least the national minimum wage; the amount that you pay depends on the age of the worker. Failure to pay the correct taxes and follow the proper procedures may lead to an investigation by the HMRC. Employees may also lose out on certain entitlements and benefits if they have not paid the correct taxes. It is always advisable to speak to an accountant or tax professional if you have any tax-related queries. BB

To consult privately with Raj Dhokia call Freedman Green Dhokia on +44 (0) 20 7625 6003 or email






Bennett Silks Ltd Established 1904

Organic Silk Majestic textiles Ltd is now certified organic by the Soil association


CertiĂ&#x20AC;cate registration number AB221124 (Organic in conversion) Majestic textiles is the only company specialising in organic silk fabrics. Producing fabrics that are exciting, Beautiful, and extraordinary. All our fabrics are organic silk, made especially for bridal wear, christenings, and that special occasion. Hand-Woven / hand painted / 100% organic silk fabrics.

All your silk requirements. Please check our website for a full list of agents Majestic Textiles Co Ltd, 23 Brookhill Road, East Barnet, EN4 8SE Phone : 0208 441 9581 ~ Mobile: 07956 402 872 Email: Web:

Stock supported range, competitive price structure and worldwide distribution.



T: +44 (0)161 476 8600 F: +44(0)161 480 5385

POINT OF SALE 020 7739 9130




FOR ALL YOUR BRIDAL SILK REQUIREMENTS Including Duchess Satin, Taffeta, Faille, Double Faced Satin, Zibeline, Ghazar, Marocain, Heavy Satin, Tulle, Organza, Lace and Chiffon Fully Stock Supported In Our London Warehouse 1m minimum order Next day delivery Pongees Ltd. 28-30 Hoxton Square, London, N1 6NN





Harrogate the


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Unit F15, Northfleet Indst Est, Lower Road, Northfleet Kent DA11 9SW

Tel: 01322 380480/568 Fax: 01322 380680

Stockists of bridal, evening and childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wear fabrics in silks and synthetics. Satins, crepes, shantungs, chiffons, habutaes and organzas in an extensive coordinated palette of shades all available from stock.

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We offer a fast reliable service on our continually increasing range (over 3,000 choices) of Bridal Fabric, Trimmings and Accessories. All Fabrics and Trimmings are available in cut lengths via our 8 sample books. Range includes: plain and shot Taffeta, Velvet, Duchess Satins, Organzas, Mikado, Chiffons, Crepes, various Satins (Silk/Poly/Acetate), Bridal/Waistcoat Brocades, Laces, various Embroidered and Beaded Fabrics, inc Tulles and Chiffons.


the tiers of a gown

* sottero

We also offer a range of Embroided/Beaded Edgings and Motifs. Many of the designs feature Crystals and a selection incorporate 3D effects. Our latest product range of over 600 designs of Dress Accessories including Buckles, Brooches, Clasps and Buttons, many designs feature Crystals and/or Pearls.

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Sequin embroideries are a speciality. Exclusive stockists of Sormeh shirring elastics.

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I M Bridal Ltd are looking for several Bridal Agents for the UK and Ireland markets. The agents will be representing the Nicole Fashion Group. In addition to this company, I M Bridal also have several other Bridal, Prom & occasion wear ranges seeking representation. For more information please contact Stephen Hitchen on 07888 652436 or E-mail I M Bridal Ltd, 50 Gerard Street, Ashton in Makerfield, Wigan, Lancashire.



For all your bridal wear needs from dress covers to hangers to shoulder covers to carrier bags. Hoesh offer a fast and reliable service. Stock service available on all colours and sizes. In-house printing facility also available on all items. T: 0116 2765221 | F: 0116 2765110 | E: | | Hoesh House, Unit 4, Trevanth Road, Leicester LE4 9LS





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Ivory & Grace are seeking a UK sales rep to represent the bridal industry’s most dramatic and breath-taking range launched at BBEH this September. This is an exciting opportunity for a committed sales person who is both driven and self-motivated. For full details, please send your CV through to


3 Pownall Road, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5DR

Tel: 01625 531 545 Mobile 07774 612206

To advertise in the directory please contact Nardene Smith on 020 7772 8317


On file Image©Malis Henderson

Image©Rosa Couture

Image©Diana Harbridge

Alexia Designs +44 (0)113 274 9999

Diane Harbridge +44 (0)1829 752 192

Kiss the Frog +44 (0) 1255 476 049

Rainbow Club +44 (0)1392 207030

Alexia Blush Prom +44 (0)113 274 9999

Ebony Rose +44 (0)8443 240324

Love By Enzoani +44 (0) 1792 586 615

Romantica +44 (0)1823 674 412

Alfred Sung Bridal +44 (0)1909 774471

Eddy K +44 (0)1204 888 285

Mac Duggal +1 630 789 1011

Rosa Couture +44 (0)1189 885 344

Amanda Wyatt +44 (0)161 4932700

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Madeline Isaac-James +44 (0)7976 959 725

Sincerity +44 (0)1908 615511

Beautiful by Enzoani +44 (0) 1792 586 615

Elizabeth Dickens +44 (0)1353 72 3675

Maggie Sottero +44 (0)84 4324 0324

The Collection Designed By Ian Stuart +44 (0)208 761 6302

Benjamin Roberts +44 (0)1792 564710

Enzoani +44 (0)1792 586 615

Malis Henderson +44 (0)161 272 0532

Torre UK +44 (0)1252 623111

Blue by Enzoani +44 (0) 1792 586 615

Halo Bridal +356 7995 6766

Masterhand +44 (0)1622 844 670

Trudy Lee +44 (0)1707 643633

Bonny Bridal UK +44 (0)1279 41 8555

Heirloom +44 (0)1706 367711

Modeca by Enzoani +44 (0) 1792 586 615

Victoria Kay +44 (0)1424 427284

Callista +44 (0)1909 774471

Jasmine +44 (0)1707 240068

Phil Collins +44 (0)1823 672641

Wilvorst +49 5551 701 207

Charlotte Balbier +44 (0)161 4932702

Jupon +44 (0)1753 622922

Prom Frocks +44 (0)1942 238 643

Dessy Group +44 (0)1909 774444

Justin Alexander +44 (0)1908 615599

Propress +44 (0)20 8417 0660




StafÑng up

Recruit with care and you could find yourself with new team members who really make it happen, says Abi Neill









recruitment agency, and when a client made a job offer to one of my candidates, my colleagues and I were encouraged to high five each other! sometimes it’s a bit like that at the shop when we sell dresses. the team and I often bust a few ott celebratory moves in the office and then scoff cake whilst Rob (my husband in the Menswear department) does the moonwalk! I loved working in recruitment; inevitably it taught me a few staffing basics which have been handy since I started my own business. staff recruitment is, amongst a tonne of other stuff, an occasionally frustrating business topic. but anyone can open a bridal shop and sell wedding dresses – it’s how you approach and handle the challenges (staff or otherwise) that set the seriously good businesses apartfrom the mediocre. Recently I’ve hired three new staff (yes, not one, not two but three). the mission was to attract bright sparky and professional sales staff and, fortunately, that’s what we’ve done. business link and acas online are crammed with detailed employment guides including advice about the legalities and pages of ‘need to knows’. there you’ll also find useful templates (including contracts and application forms). so if staff recruitment’s on your agenda check those pages out and if it’s all a bit new to you here’s an overview to get you started; First off PMa all the way! If you find for whatever reason you need staff, (because you’re expanding or otherwise) try to see it as an opportunity. Focus on the task at hand and don’t get too bogged down with the ‘what if’s’ and the insecurity or inconvenience of the situation. approach it positively and you’ll attract fabulous new staff that could mean great news for you and your business!

Advertise ProfessionAlly

You’ve got to speculate to accumulate. a ‘staff wanted’ ad stuck in your window and a casual mention to your friends just isn’t enough to do the job properly. a professionally-designed display advert in the recruitment section of the local paper may not be cheap (a whopping £750 in our case) but it’s more likely to entice high-calibre candidates to your business. We also popped details in our window, on facebook and website and t’daaaa... two weeks later the closing date arrived as did an impressive pile of 125 cVs! 82

first stAGe selection

I’m fairly brutal when it comes to sifting through cVs – especially if faced with high volume. I’m afraid any applicants who’ve ignored my request for a covering letter and cV go straight in the bin as are ex-brides keen to continue their own wedding planning in this, their ‘dream job’. Unemployed school leavers who think it would be (and I quote from one covering letter) ‘just really lovely and glamorous’ may also be a no no. once the duff cVs are weeded out, we carry out basic telephone interviews with the remaining candidates to assess manner and personality. bearing in mind I was looking for several staff and had received 125 cVs,

Advertise professionally: a ‘staff wanted’ ad stuck in your window and a casual mention to your friends just isn’t enough to do the job properly it became a bit brain- numbing but we were determined to find the best; and in hindsight it was well worth it. For speed we script the conversation and ask with quick-and-easy questions which take 5-10 minutes. at this stage we reiterate the working hours and establish their expected salary. It may sound obvious, but getting excited about a shining star that commands a £25k basic, can’t work saturdays and is allergic to satin is pointless. this time, I carried out 18 one-to-one interviews and did these back-to-back over a three-day period. We allowed an hour for each and issued an application form before interviewing. It’s the professional way of doing things, and gave me the chance to check for a criminal record, confirm holiday plans and any health/disability issues and (more basically) to inspect their handwriting. and it’s a bit X-Factor but I take a quick photo of each of them. sometimes, with the strongest and most confident candidates, we might role play a wedding dress sales situation and if we were struggling between two applicants we would invite both in for a trial day to see who is the more natural. In addition to the obvious here are a few of our favourite interview questions.

did you like the most and the least *aboutWhat our website? (exit anyone at this stage who has not looked.) describe best and worst mManagers you’ve worked for and why? (spot potential tricky-tomanage bunnies here). here’s three wedding dresses; describe what kind of bride might buy them. Which is your favourite and why? (are they enthusiastic about this and do they show a flair for talking about the different styles etc?) What makes you moody? (exit anyone that takes a while on this question and definitely consider those that say not a lot). depending on the size and layout of your shop you could also consider holding an open afternoon or group interview. Whilst it may sound ott for some business owners, they can work really well and in a competitive group setting you can quickly spot the likeable, friendly and confident personalities. In the case of multiple vacancies, this recruitment approach can also save time. as a basic programme, you could do a group welcome, issue your application forms, briefly tour the shop, tell them about your business and then meet each individually for a quick-fire round of questions before deciding on a final shortlist.

* * *

you’re Hired

however you decide to interview (and yes I know we are pretty thorough about it) trust your instincts in terms of who to select. When you’ve made your decision and verbally offered a job, take up references and issue a contract. this is the exciting bit for you and for your new staff member! Pop open a bottle of bubbly (any excuse) and toast to hard work and your new addition! new staff joining should surely be a cue for a mini celebration? ever the organiser, I also ensure name badges and training manuals are ready for a new member’s first day. Preparation for new staff is key, they need your attention just as your customers do. talking of which, I have a customer service training day to design, our christmas bash to plan, two brides to see and then, hopefully, a big bag of donuts to consume. another day at the bridal shop office… Whatever you’re up to enjoy your day... and the challenges that might come your way. 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

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