By Paul Pannone
Open discussions in the Wedding Water Cooler this morning covered topics ranging from feeding vendors at events to Congressman Weiner’s Public Relation troubles. Members of the group are free to express themselves in a no holds barred atmosphere and give their opinion about anything they like. Discussion topics are then culled to include relevant information about the wedding business.
Established, highly respected members of the wedding business casually converse with up-and-coming talent, creating a well-balanced environment that lacks one thing– BS. Right up the alley of long-time wedding industry veteran, Jim Duhe. In a previous format, Duhe blasted the tuxedo business for being “idiots”.
“They have no clue what they’re doing and have run the business into the ground for years. But that can be said of others in the wedding business, as well,” he told eWedNewz recently. As a respected fashion editor, major manufacturers seek Duhe’s opinions because of his non-nonsense approach. “I’ve been doing this long enough where people know exactly where I’m coming from. They know that I’m able to back up whatever I say with data, information and just plain common sense; beyond those key items, what else is there?” he wonders.
Jim Duhe’s diverse background and life experience earns him the right to call it like it is and forego the political correctness found everywhere else.
Duhe was absent on the day political correctness doled out by the Lord. The rules that say you cannot bash your competition are foreign to the sometimes cantankerous codger. In the most recent rant, Duhe rips his competition. We asked if we could quote his views, expecting to be turned down. Instead, Duhe seemed to relish in the idea. Here is his unedited reply to our simple question, what are you doing today?
“Im reviewing the new July 2011 Brides issue, I can’t contain my anger. It’s as if Brides is deliberately undermining the success and profitability of traditional fashion resources. In turn, this limits my ability to earn a living. I honestly don’t care what Brides does — as long as it doesn’t impact me.
The cover gown is designed by Nandi Fernandez — the winner of the Brides “Operation Dream Dress” promotion. There’s a problem. Nobody ever heard of Nandi Fernandez. Brides either forgot to organize or couldn’t negotiate a manufacturing partner for the promotion. That means that if the cover gown creates consumer demand — everybody loses. No manufacturer produced the gown. No retailer has the gown in stock. Consumers won’t find the gown anywhere. Can anyone tell me how this promotion and this cover serves anyone except Brides. It doesn’t even serve Nandi Fernandez.
The cover is only the start of my problems with this issue. The vast majority of the editorial fashion is priced way beyond the reach of average Americans. Starting with the Table of Contents (page 14) — a gown by Anne Bowen priced at $6,000 — continuing to the high point — a $13,500 gown by Randi Rahm on page 176 — this issue doesn’t just bite the hand that feeds it, it gnaws on it.
In all fairness, Brides does include a single page (88) that spotlights three gowns priced under $1,000. However, only one of the three gowns is available through full service bridal salons. The editorial well features only one gown priced under $1,000 (Nicole Miller/$750 on page 171). Two gowns are priced below $2,000 (J.Crew/$1,800 on page 166; David’s/$1,000 on page 181). Gowns by Nicole Miller, J.Crew and David’s are not sold through traditional bridal salons.
Adding insult to injury and going from the sublime to the ridiculous, “All’s Fair” — a real life wedding story on page 202 — showcases a gown purchased at a thrift shop for $25. The groom is wearing a tuxedo — the only tuxedo shown in the book — but the tuxedo isn’t credited to any designer. Who knows where it was acquired.
Clearly, Brides editors either don’t read their own research or don’t give a crap as to what their readers want to purchase. Like it or not — the price of the average wedding gown is less than $1,000. Like it or not — more
than 85% of grooms will rent tuxedos. Brides editors seem much more obsessed with their own projection of wedding day apparel than with serving their readers needs or the interests of the bridal apparel community. Maybe this explains why this Brides issue is roughly 50 pages lighter than the same issue in 2009 — pay-back for consistently undermining bridal fashion sales — creating confusion in the marketplace — and masticating the hand that has been overfeeding it for many years. This also may explain why Brides is selling just above 70,000 issues at the newsstand — fewer issues than For The Bride.
OK. I feel much better now. Aren’t you delighted that you asked: “what is everybody doing?” The short answer is: I’m trying to understand why the bridal industry insists upon shooting itself in the foot year after year by supporting Brides Magazine. I’m asking myself why I’m the only one that seems to question Brides role as an industry expert,” according to Duhe.”
The most fascinating part of Duhe’s point of view is he’s supported by major advertisers that agree with him. Advertisers on record that have expressed their concern to Conde Nast, the owners of Brides, say they received no satisfaction and subsequently pulled advertising dollars. For some, the jury is still out on whether their move was wise. “It may not have been wise– but it was warranted,” according to one advertiser.
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