Some of the best retail ideas were born of the frustration and the desire to improve a product or service. Similarly, some of the most innovative bridal concepts have been launched by a betrothed who felt jilted by a wedding gown shopping experience that fell short of her expectations.
Customizable made-to-order bridal brand Anomalie offers 4 billion different wedding dresses — yes, that’s billion. Here’s how the direct-to-consumer bridal brand does it.
“We’ve codified every single design attribute of every dress we can construct,” said cofounder Leslie Voorhees Means. “It becomes machine learning-backed tools and mind-reading technology that makes recommendations. Brides-to-be use Pinterest, Instagram and stores to collect inspiration, but we hope this is giving brides the inspiration, tools, support and nearly limitless options to create their perfect dress.”
Anomalie today is launching its revamped DressBuilder platform, the data-backed digital resource that allows brides to visualize their wedding dress and work with stylists and dressmakers to produce the desired garment.
“It’s really simple, a bride takes the survey and starts to visual her perfect dress. It’s size- and design-specific. We have a great technical team with backgrounds in fashion and technology,” Voorhees Means said, citing Marcy Zelmar, Anomalie’s chief experience officer, who was formerly head of digital at Sephora. “It’s a fun, easy experience where brides can tap into that expertise.
“In fashion, everyone’s talking about change and technology. But look at bridal boutiques,” said Voorhees Means, who worked in supply chain management at Nike and Apple. “There’s a lack of accessibility in terms of inventory and design and sizes, and super high markups for what should be an exciting and happy experience. We hear over and over again about the frustration brides are facing. We’re trying to attack those pain points and frustrations.”
Voorhees Means isn’t looking to reinvent bridal stores. “The key point of direct-to-consumer disruption is to bring value to brides,” she said. “We’ve transformed how customers shop by using data to give them more selection and value. We need to apply a different experience that applies to brides.
“We don’t believe the answer is to open a boutique,” Voorhees Means said. “A digital experience can offer dramatic advantages with customization and value. It takes a lot of money to invest in what we’re doing. We’ve been in an R&D mode and we see that as a big change for the wedding industry and for brides.”
The brand’s design team includes former Vera Wang, Pronovias and David’s Bridal experts. Voorhees Means said they’ve spent a collective 30,000 hours documenting and uploading their dressmaker knowledge to DressBuilder, and sharing their knowledge with brides directly. The result, she claimed, is the most robust consumer customization engine released in any fashion category.
The process takes minutes and allows brides to create sketches of their singular visions. They can schedule a complimentary call with an Anomalie stylist to perfect the design, get sample fabric in the mail and receive digital lace suggestions.
Voorhees Means isn’t sure whether DressBuilder will remain proprietary or be licensed to other bridal companies. For now, she’s taking a magnanimous position. “We’ve grown really well with good word of mouth,” she said. “We want this to be a resource for any bride.”
Besides, she’s not worried about the wedding industry catching up to Anomalie any time soon. “Brides are going to have a harder and harder time finding their perfect dress in boutiques,” Voorhees Means said. “That’s because we can specify such small details. [When I was shopping for my dress] I had a very specific vision and knew what I wanted. I wanted long sleeves and a garment that was unique for my day. We don’t see that as a risk, the more brides using the experience, the better.
With data-backed technology and a vertically integrated supply chain, “Anomalie solves all pain points for a bride’s shopping experience by offering them true customization with inclusive sizing,” Voorhees Means said, adding, “We have the resources to empower brides to discover and create their dream dress.”