Whether a matter of convenience, cost-cutting or a break from tradition, the continued prominence of low-key brides is prompting David’s Bridal to launch the Casual Bride collection.
The assortment will be aimed at shoppers who want to buy dresses off the rack and take them immediately, or shop online and will retail from $99 to $750 when it debuts in January. The collection is not only suited for courthouse or beach weddings but also rehearsal dinners and other special events. This more low-maintenance approach to wedding gown shopping is somewhat of a market shift, a David’s Bridal spokeswoman said during Tuesday’s Home Studios preview.
Perhaps some of that choosiness may be chalked up to the fact that the average age of women getting married has edged up to 27 years old. Despite declining numbers, couples that marry later in life tend to have higher wedding budgets and can afford more expensive bridalwear, according to an August survey by IBISWorld of bridal stores. Despite positive economic conditions, rising competition and a declining marriage rate are expected to result in industry revenue falling 0.5 percent this year to $2.9 billion.
Another continuing trend is consumers’ interest in blushes, tans and gold underlays for their dresses. The David’s Bridal spokeswoman noted that bridal trends tend to lag behind Pantone color trends. David’s Bridal tends to emphasize the colors of the season in its bridesmaid dresses.
Through David’s Bridal customer insight team, management knows “brides are so swayed” by Pinterest that many brides say they want a Pinterest-worthy wedding. “It really sets the bar higher than it ever has, whether it’s Kim’s and Kanye’s wedding, or some other celebrity,” the spokeswoman said. “We see it by a landslide.”
While the $99 opening price point for the Casual Bride collection is lower than the chain’s norm, the $750 upper price tag is “a little hefty” for David’s Bridal, the spokeswoman said. At Tuesday’s presentation, the retailer enlisted 18 models, not only to show the different types of brides but also how the dresses look on different body types.
In December, the retailer will open a 15,000-square-foot store in Birmingham, England. With more than 300 stores worldwide David’s Bridal already has units in Stratford, Watford and Glasgow. Consumers there have been “super receptive” to the big-box approach to bridal shopping, which is a switch for that region’s emphasis on boutiques. The Stratford flagship, which opened three years ago, is 10,000 square feet and offers such labels as Wonder by Jenny Packham, Truly Zac Posen and Oleg Cassini.
Founded in 1950 as a family-owned operation, the chain plans to open its first franchised store in Mexico City in February as a test. Stateside, the approach is to refresh and relocate select existing locations to ensure the retailer is in the right place, the spokeswoman said. There are currently no plans for new stores in the U.S.