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The celebrity factor is giving a boost to the bridal boudoir business.
This year alone will see a string of high-profile weddings, including Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake, Jessica Simpson and Eric Johnson, Britney Spears and Jason Trawick, and Anne Hathaway and Adam Shulman.
These come on top of a slew of celebrity nuptials last year — led by the fairy-tale wedding of the century of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. This was joined by the weddings of Prince Albert II and Charlene Wittstock, Paul McCartney and Nancy Shevell, Rachel Weisz and Daniel Craig, Reese Witherspoon and Jim Toth, and the now infamous 72-day marriage of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries. They all made the bridal wardrobe, including undergarments that create a flawless figure, a staple of TV talk shows, fashion magazines and social media.
The connection of celebrity with fashion — such as the Duchess of Cambridge’s penchant for wearing sheer hosiery, which led to a renewed interest in sheer legwear worldwide — could have the same affect on intimates, said executives, and bolster the $53.3 billion bridal market. According to The Wedding Report Inc., sales of bridal intimates and wedding dress accessories are expected to total $265 million this year.
“Bridal intimates is a fast-growing category and it’s generated a 10 percent increase over the past year,” said Maureen Stabnau, senior vice president at Barenecessities.com. “The celebrity connection has been very important and now many brides will have two gowns, one for the wedding and one for the reception….Look at Kate’s and Kim’s weddings — people talked about what they wore to bachelorette parties, the night-before party, the after party, the honeymoon. And intimates plays a big part of it.” Top-selling brands on the Bare Necessities bridal page include Va Bien, Felina and Goddess.
Gregory L. Gimble, vice president of Va Bien International, said sales for specialty undergarments to be worn underneath wedding gowns and related dresses have grown 14 percent year-to-date.
“I think a big influence on specialty undergarments from the royal wedding was a return to lace. Previously, smooth looks dominated. While show-through is still an issue for certain dress constructions and silhouettes like form-fitting sheath and mermaid cuts constructed in lightweight fabrics, we find that more brides today want lace underpinnings than before,” said Gimble.
Items for the honeymoon are becoming a key area and contemporary brides are buying additional sleep gowns and coordinating robes that range from sexy little baby dolls to classic, long gowns and novelty pajamas that can fill in a wardrobe after the wedding. Foundations in particular are an important component of a dual-purpose bridal wardrobe and include longline bras, all-in-one shapers, convertible bras, strapless bras and seamless bustiers that transition into everyday wear.
Michelle Clark, vice president of sales and merchandising for the Flora Nikrooz collection of bridal sleepwear at Age Group, said, “In the old days, a bridal trousseau was a collection of new outfits to see a woman through her wedding, honeymoon and newlywed days. Flora sees her collection as the lingerie trousseau for the bride — not just white pieces for the wedding night, but colorful, fun pieces for the honeymoon and after. Concurrently, we have heard from several retailers that in their bridal departments and advertising, they will be emphasizing the ‘Honeymoon’ department, thus being able to expand the special occasion offering year round.”
Clark added, “After a very successful bridal season for 2011, we are anticipating sales increases 20 percent or higher in 2012. The focus on bridal in venues that are conventionally more sportswear and apparel focused, such as J. Crew and Anthropologie, has come to the attention of top management at many department stores, and the open-to-buy for this category has expanded.”
Burgeoning interest in bridal intimates prompted Body Wrap, a shapewear specialist, to launch a line of bridal shapers this spring called Body Wrap Bridal.
“We see Body Wrap Bridal from the traditional perspective in the purest whites and ivory and details that have a classic look but redesigned into a modern sleek feel satin finishing, lace and trim,” said Kathy Van Ness, chief marketing officer of parent company Trimera Group.
Body Wrap Bridal began selling at Kohl’s this spring and will be rolled out to more than 300 David’s Bridal stores this summer.