“How is the new bride going to shop?” questioned Danielle Hirsch, designer of the New York City-based bridal label, Danielle Frankel.
While the pandemic has pushed many brands to open up e-commerce web sites across retail categories, Hirsch’s site relaunch was, “the biggest, happy accident that happened during COVID-19.”
Coming off of her win as runner up finish in the November 2019 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, Hirsch made the decision that the brand’s next steps should be launching its own e-commerce. The demand for a redesigned site was there. Hirsch noted that the brand’s direct-to-consumer sales have been their biggest source of revenue since its inception in 2017, meanwhile analytics showed reach of more than 100 countries a day visiting the brand’s site.
“We are one little atelier in Midtown Manhattan…but we have global reach. The only way to grow would be to sell the garments online,” she explained over the phone.
“When we won the fund, the first thing that we did was make an internal buy. We went through every product that we knew we wanted to be on the site and said, ‘How are we going to order into this?'” The designer ordered a size run from 0 to 12 and started selling off the garments to those inquiring; she even sold out of a dress before it went on the site. “It was a good problem to have; we shot it anyway, but now it’s for pre-order.”
With the relaunch, the brand is offering what Hirsch described as “new bestsellers,” from across collections that will be available to ship worldwide; archival pieces will be available upon-request.
While the brand planned to launch with everything in stock, ready to ship, because of COVID-19, the brand’s production stopped. Within today’s e-commerce launch, around 15 styles are in stock and ready-to-ship (from Hirsch’s guest bedroom in Los Angeles, where she is currently working and quarantining). The designer stated garments can be pre-ordered with an expected ship date at the end of the summer, adding that should factories open up sooner, garments are roughly two weeks away from shipping. For brides planning ahead, Hirsch advises a 10 months lead time to give cushion in these unknowing times.
“A lot of people criticize putting a gown like that online, for a lot of money, because you lose the exclusivity factor…is it polished enough to have that price-point floating on e-comm? My reasoning is: It allows us to be so much more accessible to that person in a country that can’t access New York City, who can have the product shipped to them really easily,” the designer commented. To add, the designer recently expanded her global e-commerce presence through the launch of Vogue’s “A Common Thread” shopping page on Amazon.
In addition to current gowns and ready-to-wear Hirsch is launching seven new styles to be sold exclusively on the brand’s web site.
“About three weeks into quarantine life, bridal week was canceled, but we had started seven looks out of the whole collection. Why don’t we just finish those up?” Hirsch recalled, adding that while certainly a challenge, the gowns were finished from home, with the help of back-and-forth overnight shipping to pattern-makers and seamstresses, in addition to a remote fitting.
The designer described the new styles as, “very simple and straightforward,” with silhouettes and details that riff on prior designs, but with a sharper price point. While the brand’s original pricing ranges from a tulle T-shirt for $300 up to a gown that’s roughly $10,000, the designer wanted to offer a more palatable price within the direct-to-consumer capsule, such as the Celia and Avery gowns for $2,990. Aware of the current tough times, Hirsch believes that once factories are up and running and people can start getting dressed again, there might be a sense of wanting something new. Expanding her price-range for gowns, the designer is able to immediately reach a broader audience, especially in a time when the economy is changing.
Striving for the personal bridal experience online, Hirsch infused her beautiful “unfinished yet polished,” ethos through photography, all of which was shot by a photographer and model who were in quarantine together in Montauk, N.Y. The on-model, product photographs are aspirational — Hirsch wanted her customer to be able to feel like the woman in the photo — while straightforward with “front, back, side,” and detailed views. In addition, appointments and consultation are available to be booked, virtually, through the brand’s web site. Once the economy opens up, customers will be able to make appointments for consultations and alteration, but for now, the designer feels that the direct experience is more important than ever for brides.
“I did want to make this shift, which is atypical for bridal, because I really believe in this way of buying,” Hirsch expressed, “The ‘I need my garment now,’ and during COVID-19, that’s the only way to do it.”