ATLANTA — Brides will have many design choices for their big day next year, but the top trends are lace, open or illusion backs, plunging V-necklines, layering and cropped tops.
Shopping the VOW/New World of Bridal market, which ran Sept. 16 to 18 at AmericasMart here, retailers also found dresses with bateaux necklines, floral lace appliqués, overskirts, feathers on the skirt, belts, short dresses, and even pant suits and jumpsuits possibly for a destination wedding or reception outfit. The trumpet or flare gown is still popular, and ballgowns are coming back. Ivory is the color of choice, though blush is doing well, too. And brands showed a lot of intricate beading, whether it was pearls, crystals or sequins.
Veils are short or no longer than chapel length, but the trendiest headwear is the halo, influenced by bohemian looks. Bodices can be strapless, but are trending to straps or cap, three-quarter or long sleeves. Also important is the shrug jacket.
Weddings have ventured beyond churches and are more often taking place outside in gardens or at the beach, or in wineries or barns. “Brides can wear what they want,” said Jennifer Mason, store manager of MB Bride in Greensburg, Pa.
The bridal industry is healthy. Brides are spending more on dresses than they did a few years ago during the recession. Tammie Dimas, owner of Bridal Bliss, Stockton, Calif., said brides are spending an average of $2,200 on gowns. “As the economy has come back, people want the quality dress,” she said. She added that her business increased considerably last year over 2013, and now is pacing with 2014 but slightly ahead.
Patrice Catan, co-owner of Catan Fashions in Strongsville, Ohio, also said that the bridal industry is “doing very well,” and her own business is growing. Catan Fashions is the largest bridal store in the U.S. and carries more than 2,000 wedding gown samples. Catan said she believes the number of brides will double in 2016 because it’s an even year and because of the presidential election, which adds “drama and enthusiasm.”
Catan debuted her own line, Juliana Marie, at the show. “I feel that the Atlanta show is the pivotal source for all retailers to come to… and not have to go anywhere else,” she said.
Kaye Davis, vice president of apparel leasing at AmericasMart, said VOW, now in its fourth year, has everything from bridal, special occasion — for mothers of the bride and groom — tuxedos, bridesmaids and flower dresses, to accessories and footwear. “We’re a one-stop shop, and we offer educational seminars, as well.”
“We have seen a definite increase in exhibitors and retailers,” she continued, adding that VOW has opened five new showrooms and expanded six since 2014. Currently, VOW is attracting national retailers. “Our next goal is to go after international retailers, but our main focus is national retailers,” Davis said.
A few prom brands have ventured into bridal. Sherri Hill, who launched bridal at the show, said she had been getting searches for bridal on her Web site, plus her international retailers said she should add it. It makes sense: According to Jennifer Mason, when she sees trends in prom, she expects to see them later in bridal.
As for mothers of the bride, they want younger looks that can be worn for other dressy events. “They don’t want a motherly look,” said Mason. Lisa Rivera, director of sales at Le Femme Fashion, said their dresses were for “the young-at-heart mother to express herself.”
Sales at MB Bride are “very, very strong,” said Mason. “It’s always strong, even in the recession although price points dropped a little. Now budget isn’t an issue.”
Brands that buyers sought included Justin Alexander, Watters, Martina Liana by Essence, Maggie Sottero, Allure, and David Sutera by Mon Cheri.