By: Kelly Leggett, Creative Director at Little White Dress
Attending New York Bridal Fashion Week (NYBFW or “bridal market” in industry lingo) is definitely one of the biggest perks of being in the wedding dress business! With this season’s bridal market just around the corner, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to give Rocky Mountain Bride readers an inside look on life as a bridal fashion buyer.
Bridal fashion week takes place in New York City twice a year: once in April and once in October. October’s bridal market is typically the bigger of the two seasons, and it’s where the biggest and best names in bridal from all over the world present their new collections for the first time. Bridal salons from around the world, as well as press, all flock to New York to see the new collections. It’s not just a fun week, but it’s also a crucial time for bridal salons planning for the following year. NYBFW is when bridal salons choose which new gowns and designers to carry in-store the following season.
This will be my 13th time attending bridal market. Each year, I’m truly so excited to see what our amazing designers come up with. It’s always such an honor to help decide which designers and styles our brides will have available in Colorado. Each season, the Little White Dress buying team has a packed schedule, between seeing runway shows, attending one-on-one appointments all around the city with our current designers to select our new gowns, and checking out designers we don’t currently carry but may be interested in having in-store in the future.
So what is a one-on-one designer appointment like? I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty great. Many of our designers have their own beautiful showrooms or they show their collections in a hotel suite. Each appointment consists of viewing each new gown from the collection on a model, so we can see how the dress looks when it’s on, instead of just seeing it on the hanger. We get to look at the gowns up close, feel the fabrics, see the internal structure and seam work and learn more about the customization options for each dress, as well as the price for each dress. It’s all with the goal of bringing the best of the best to our brides.
Typically each designer shows between 10-20 new gowns each collection. We select anywhere from 2-6 new gowns to carry in-store from the collection, so it can be hard to narrow down the selection when our designers create such amazing new collections! When deciding on which dresses to carry samples of in-store, there are many factors we consider. We look for styles that are beautiful and well made, as well as different from what we already have. We are very careful to choose a variety of silhouettes, details, necklines, backs, and fabrics so our brides have a great selection to choose from when they shop at Little White Dress. We also look for gowns that are priced in a way that makes sense. Whether the gown is $2,000 or $10,000, it’s important to us that it’s worth the price and that the fabrication, design, and quality are all reflective of what a bride will be paying for the dress.
Once we see the full collection from the designer and narrow down our selection during our appointment, we then decide on sizing and color for each of our sample gowns. The sample gown is what we will have in store for brides to try on, so we want to make sure a variety of shapes and sizes can try on the gown (even though it won’t fit perfectly on most brides until the dress she chooses is ordered in her own size). We carry samples in bridal sizes 6 to 26, with the majority between size 8 and 16, so for each gown we choose, we have to decide on a size that will give the most variety to our selection. If a gown is available in more than one color, we also select the color for our sample that we feel our brides will love most (though a bride can typically order it in a different color option than what we have in store).
What we select at bridal market arrives at Little White Dress about three to six months later and the dresses are then purchased by brides whose weddings are typically more than a year away from when we first saw the gowns, so the decisions we make at bridal market also have a bit of crystal ball predictions to them. Over the nearly 12 years we’ve been in business, we’ve become experts at knowing what our brides will love in the future and we also love pushing the envelope by bringing in designers and styles that we know will be the next big trend.
For brides getting married in late 2020 or early 2021, keep an eye on what you see during next week’s bridal fashion week. The gowns presented there will be available in salons in early 2020.