The launch of Oscar de la Renta bridal for January retailing signifies a key strategy for ready-to-wear firms looking to diversify their brand and grow their business in stagnant times.

It also shows that the mature craft of made-to-order clothes is alive in the bridal market, as the gown is one of the most important parts of a wedding for many brides-to-be. According to the Condé Nast Bridal Group, which tracks bridal sales through its marketing division, the wedding dress generates $1.4 billion annually. The bridal market as a whole — which includes mother-of-the-bride, bridal accessories, bridesmaids dresses and formalwear for men — totals approximately $5 billion.

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