Jannina Figueroa is the creative force behind Madeleine Fig and a new face at COUTURE! Since her 2013 launch at the International Trade Show Intermoda, Figueroa has encountered a frenzy of international press coverage ranging from Paris to Peru! With all gowns made domestically and a headquarters in Los Angeles, Madeleine Fig is ready to take on New York Bridal Fashion Week! In an industry that is constantly evolving and seeking innovation, we have always made it our mission to discover new talent . We’re so excited to see what fresh take this hot new designer has in store for the traditional gown!
Please welcome UK bridal brand Intuzari to COUTURE! Since launching in September of 2011, the fresh collection as taken the global market by storm with clients in the US, Japan, France and beyond! With two beautifully diverse collections, the glamorous Intuzuri Costura and the more contemporary Luvanity collection, their bride is one that that values both tradition and innovation. With a “young and multinational” team behind the scenes, it is no surprise that Intuzari has obtained a strong following in a short period of time. We are ecstatic that they have decided to join COUTURE!
In honor of Bridal Reflections’ 40th Anniversary, COUTURE sat down with Vice President, Cristina DeMarco, in order to pick her brain about New York Bridal Fashion Week! With three fabulous salons and an outstanding assortment of American and international designers, it is no surprise that they are dubbed “New York’s premiere bridal salon!”
COUTURE: Congratulations on your 40 year anniversary! With four decades of success under your belt, what is the most significant change to the industry since you entered the market?
DeMarco: Hands down the internet! I would say 90% of our brides do their primary research online. Our homepage is the first impression we have on them and it is so important that it is an accurate depiction of our business! The web has also changed the scope of our competition. Local stores are not the only competitors anymore. Brides now have easy access to retailers and designers worldwide.
COUTURE: How closely do you follow the trends and how do they affect your assortment and is there a certain trend that sticks out as defying a decade?
DeMarco: Clearly we alter our collection based on current trends but we also try to consistently have timeless styles. Many designers today are producing trends that are removable such as detachable peplum, one shoulder straps, skirts, and overlays. This way the bride can have the best of both worlds when it comes to tradition vs. fashion! As far as trends over the years, Leg o’mutton sleeves certainly define an era for me. In the 80’s EVERY gown had dramatic sleeves which eventually lead to a backlash of more simplistic silhouettes. So funny how styles change so drastically over time!
COUTURE: As you stated earlier, the internet has clearly made an impact on the business. What other significant changes in the media landscape do you believe affected the industry?
DeMarco: Reality TV has had a huge influence on the bridal business. With popular shows like Randy to the Rescue and My Fair Wedding, many brides are watching these programs as a form of research. These brides are getting free consultations from industry professionals in the comfort of their own home! As a retailer it is important to know what messages these shows are putting out there and make sure we offer the trends they are promoting.
COUTURE: Do you think the introduction of these modern influences have affected bridal magazines?
DeMarco: Bridal magazines will always be around! Nothing compares to physically flipping through a magazine full of glossy, beautiful, high-quality images. That being said the thickness of the magazines has certainly declined due to the advertisers exploring digital opportunities. There is no longer just one medium and as a retailer we need to be aware of these other platforms in order to reach our customer.
COUTURE: You currently have three successful locations. Do you take each demographic into account when formulating a buy? Does each store have a separate buyer/budget?
DeMarco: We currently have one team of buyers for all three locations however we divide our budget accordingly for each store. When purchasing new collections we certainly take into consideration which location will be the most successful with each style. Allocation of goods is also extremely important! Transferring designs between stores to fulfill demands is often necessary.
COUTURE: When you prepare for each market, what are the top three goals you are trying to achieve?
DeMarco: (1) Stay within budget! (2) Seek out innovative fashions (3) Remain consistent with product (ie quality, price points and taste level)
COUTURE: What advice can you give to first time retailers at market?
DeMarco: Define who you are before going to market. Who is your bride and what she is looking for? Is she coming to you for fashion forward designs or a reasonable price point? Or both? Find your niche in the market and stay true to your brand identity
COUTURE: What advice can you give new designers showing at market? What is the best way for them to catch your attention?
DeMarco: We are looking for innovation! We currently carry many designers that have a unique aesthetic. If we decide to bring in a new collection it should fill a stylistic void that’s in the current assortment, not replicate existing designs.
COUTURE: How open should designers be to design edits? How often do you request them and why?
DeMarco: We encourage designers to stay true to their designs. We rarely ask them to customize unless there is a specific detail we know will not resonate with our demographics. That being said, a designer should always be flexible when it comes to the demands of our customer. Brides want a dress that is unique and desire the opportunity to tweak the style to make it her own. The designers we partner with are open to such requests.
COUTURE: Bridal Market is just the beginning! What follow up steps from the designer are necessary to insure a smooth transaction?
DeMarco: Most importantly the designer needs to be responsible with their delivery times! They should be prepared to let us know when we can physically have the sample in our stores and what the lead time is for our bride. They should also be able to tell us the color and size variations that are available over time. It is essential that they follow through on all the promises they presented at market!
COUTURE: How do you see the bridal retail business evolving in the next 10-20 years and how are you preparing?
DeMarco: I think the industry is going through a clean house phase. Many people jumped on the bridal bandwagon thinking it is recession proof however it takes a strong business skill to stay afloat. In order to remain successful, owners need to remain hands on, invest in a professional staff and most importantly service the client!
At just 24 years old Lauren Gabrielson has made quite an impression on the extremely competitive New York City market. Her posh boutique in Nolita (which is an extremely chic neighborhood in downtown Manhattan!) has attracted many upscale clients looking for classic yet unique clothing in high-quality fabrics. Her made to measure business soon became so popular that many customers began requesting dresses for their weddings! Whether it be a cohesive collection of bridesmaid dresses that still expressed individuality or a couture gown for the bride herself, the young designer was up for the challenge! We are so excited that Gabrielson decided to reveal next season’s bridesmaid collection at COUTURE during New York Bridal Fashion Week! Can’t wait to see what fun, flirty designs she has in store!
COUTURE was fortunate enough to chat with White of Dublin Co-Founder, Diane Bond, to see how they are preparing for market! Bond opened her boutique in Dublin, Ohio back in 2011 along with Co-Founder Heather DiMasi. With a quaint, yet luxurious, atmosphere and intimate, personalized experience it is no surprise that White of Dublin is a prime target for our designers!
COUTURE: As a major bridal salon with years of bridal market experience, what are the top 3 goals you go into market looking to accomplish?
BOND: (1) Strive to keep current with (if not ahead of) the bridal fashions (2) Strive not to exceed our budget. (3) Try to fill any gaps in styles/silhouettes/price points to be able to reach our brides.
COUTURE: How many bridal markets do you attend each year and do you have different goals for each?
BOND: We attend two markets each year – one in Spring and one in Fall. Our goals are the same for each but on a smaller scale in the Spring.
COUTURE: How many people from your team attend NY Bridal Fashion Week? (i.e. buyer, top sales person, owner, manager, etc. )
BOND: We have two people attending market – owners and buyers.
COUTURE: How many appointments do you make prior to market and how many visits are drop ins?
BOND: Approximately 75% of our appointments at market are made prior. We always enjoy dropping in on new designers to see the latest trends!
COUTURE: Do you come to market with a specific spending budget and how flexible are you in exceeding it?
BOND:We do come to market with a general budget range. However, we are comfortable flexing that budget somewhat if we agree that it would be profitable in the end.
COUTURE: What are the main focuses a designer should stress during each appointment? What should they come prepared with?
BOND: Each designer should be prepared to showcase their top sellers and convince buyers that their styles will sell in their stores. Therefore, designers should know their buyers and the store’s customers. They should do their homework, too.
COUTURE: What issues are critical when evaluating a new designer?
BOND: For our boutique, we stress a designer’s ability to work closely with us. We also look closely at the wholesale prices versus the quality of dress. Ultimately, both of those issues trickle down to our brides. A happy bride reflects positively on both the store she bought the dress from and the designer’s dress that she chose.
COUTURE:You currently have strong relationships with many designers. How open are you to exploring new collections? How can these designers grab your attention?
BOND: At each market, we take some time to drop in on new designers. We are always open to working with new designers in case they are able to offer something fresh. When considering them, we look to see how much marketing is already in all media outlets for that particular designer. We also consider if brides are seeking those designers out for their collections. And lastly, but very importantly, as well, we look to see how viable the designer is as a business.
COUTURE: How do you determine if these new designers are viable?
BOND: Designers should be prepared to answer questions like: Where are their materials coming from? Where is their production facility? What is the turnaround time on an order? Do they have a business plan implemented? Overall, we need to be confident that our production needs will be met before we can consider investing.
COUTURE: What advice would you give to salon owners attending market for the first time?
BOND: We advise new store owners attending market to take their time in making decisions. It is perfectly acceptable to go to all of your appointments first before making any purchases. Feel confident and comfortable stepping back to make your final decisions when buying. You will stay in your budget and not make rash business decisions that way.
Vannie Wang is the mastermind behind the Lucio Vanni fashion house. First a success in the China and now an international business, Wang is an inspiration to both designers and entrepreneurs. Her fascinatingly dramatic designs and exquisite attention to detail is what makes her bridal line a COUTURE favorite! Not only are her gowns hand crafted in true haute couture fashion but they are also constructed with finest materials such as French Chantilly lace and Swarovski crystals. We are sure Fall 2013 will be no exception, We are certainly looking forward to the big reveal!
Believe it or not, Latin American designer Francesca Miranda actually started her career in menswear! She eventually expanded her collection and gained notoriety within the Colombian fashion community. In 2010, Miranda partnered with New York showroom Group 868 to launch her first bridal collection in the US. Her exquisite craftsmanship and cultural inspiration give her designs an edge over the competition and has granted her great success in North America. We are honored she has chosen COUTURE to preview her Fall collection and we can’t wait to view the gorgeous gowns ourselves!
We are thrilled to welcome Australian designer Karen Willis Holmes to COUTURE! Her fabulously successful brand reaches a wide variety of stylish brides including a couture collection, KAREN WILLIS HOLMES Couture, and three prêt-à-porter concepts, DEMI COUTURE Collection, BRIDE by KAREN WILLIS HOLMES and KWH by KAREN WILLIS HOLMES. We can go on and on about her fabulous designs but why not hear it directly from the designer herself in the video above!
The deliciously edgy Halo & Co is back and we can’t wait to see what British designers Stephanie & Nicole Ball have in store for us this time! With a long list of celebrity clientele including Spice Girl turned socialite Geri Halliwell and E! Fashion Police panelist Kelly Osborn, it is no wonder the UK label is making such a big impression on the US market! Represented by chic NYC showroom, Group 868, Halo & Co will continue to dazzle and push the boundaries with their ornate and fashion forward headpieces!