With Whistles, Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Ted Baker all launching wedding collections this season, high street bridalwear is on the rise. Brides now have access to a much bigger choice of inexpensive, trend-led weddingwear from their favourite clothing brands, making this lucrative market more saturated and accessible than ever before. So what must newcomers to the market do to win the hearts of brides-to-be who do not have Pippa Middleton’s budget?
Brides demand a focus on fashion
GlobalData’s survey of 5,000 shoppers revealed that 47% of bridalwear buying decisions were driven by ‘the look’, demonstrating the importance of marrying outfit aesthetics with seasonal wedding trends and themes such as blush colour pallets, vintage glamour or warm metallics.
Fashion also featured highly in the buying decision process; however 57% of those who purchased bridalwear in the last 12 months said they did not find enough dresses that followed the latest trends – playing into the hands of new entrants in 2017. As brides increasingly seek a flawless wedding day, inspired by a wealth of imagery on social channels Pinterest and Instagram, demand is growing for more fashion-led items to create the modern, trend-led bride with ‘the look’ she envisages.
Independents and department stores will lose share
Fashion-forward retailers stocking affordable ranges will attract both consumers contemplating ways to keep costs down, and those looking for a second wedding dress as a relaxed, yet still covetable, option to wear for part of their celebration. A less conventional, trend-led outfit would also be well suited to a wedding abroad, with more informal, less structured styles more easily transportable and often more appropriate for warmer weather – Whistles is clearly targeting this bride.
The opportunity is there for fashion-focused players to take share from more traditional, and usually more expensive, independent boutiques and department stores; House of Fraser and Debenhams have previously been primary choices for weddingwear, often focusing on more classic, conservative styles. As one of the first to branch out into weddingwear in March 2016, the young-fashion online pureplay ASOS has had a head start on its competitors. Retailers must move quickly to build their presence in the bridal market ensuring items including footwear, hair accessories, belts and bags are available to boost spend per head – particularly as bridal specialists are underserving customers in these product categories.
Fashion retailers dissolve barriers to purchase
High street players can break down the often intimidating, cost-restrictive and time-consuming process of purchasing a wedding dress. Retailers can harness their well-established store and online propositions to provide a convenient, effortless service where the shopper can purchase an outfit that used to require an order to be placed months in advance.
The ability to buy and take home a wedding dress instantly with no appointment limitations and the freedom to take photographs – often not permitted in bridal stores – will ensure high street players are a genuine consideration for brides. Retailers must showcase these benefits to attract shoppers into stores.