Chicago Bridal Market still the Strongest Show to date

By Paul Pannone

An eWedNewz watch over bridal markets continues to notice Chicago as the strongest of all shows to date. The March 2012  market spotlighted more than 400 lines offered by over 120 vendors, led by the most important bridal resources including recent new entries to the industry.

 

 

According to reports retail activity was healthy with buyers from all over the country in attendance.  Mon Cheri, Allure, Mori Lee, Casablanca, Maggie Sottero, Essence, Bel Aire, Eden, Mary’s, Impression reported good activity and actual sales. Some told eWedNewz it was the strongest Fall Market in years.

Discussions with manufacturers and retailers feel the healthiest companies will continue to support and attend shows that earn their business. In plain and simple terms the strong will get stronger and the weak will die.

 

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2012

Winners and Whiners at Chicago Bridal Market

By Paul Pannone

The Chicago Bridal Market 2011 is called the most attended and exciting in years by some of the most successful bridal manufacturers of the business. As expected, AllureCasa Blanca, Mori Lee, Maggie Sottero and other well-established companies creating designs that favor platinum budgets saw brisk activity at their booths.

According to some buyers, the higher-end of wedding gown pricing hasn’t suffered proportionately as much as the middle, where the most congestion and competition exists. Although some of the higher-priced suppliers have added collections that take into account the current economic challenges, there are some that will argue the point by saying the luxury level has suffered just as much.

Buyers at the show told eWedNewz they’re placing their orders more carefully than ever before, considering the reliability of the company, marketing and advertising budgets and support of the products. With a sea of products available– and more reported to be launching– the daunting task of knowing what to buy from whom seems nearly impossible.

“If you add all the name brands together — there are about 1,000 different brands to know and review! These numbers aren’t exact, but this is my best guess: Bridal Gowns — 300 Maids — 130 Headpieces — 75 Accessories — 80 Mothers — 80 Prom — 95 Shoes — 40 Quinceanera– 30 Special Occasion — 105 Jewelry — 65.

That means that if a retail buyer wanted to see all 1,000, they would have to see 200 brand names a day at the Chicago market — or about one brand name every 2 and a half minutes for eight hours a day with no breaks,” according to Jim Duhe.

According to Duhe and others, attendance at the show was better than expected. Earlier this year the Las Vegas  Bridal Market was canceled due to lack of interest. Retailers and manufacturers cited the weak economy and the over-saturation of shows, along with growing competition from places like Costco in a shrinking market. Moderate traffic in Dallas, despite aggressive measures taken to fly in buyers and put them up in hotels, showed the weakness of the market earlier this year.

Buyers told eWedNewz they wanted to hold on to orders and see what the season was going to be like. Though many say sales have been “good”, no on is jumping for joy.

“This is an exciting show for us; as you know we unveiled David Tutera and boy, has it really caught on,” according to Steve Lang.

In the way of buzz and promotion, Lang led the pack and was rewarded by winning three DEBI awards for which Mon Cheri was nominated.

“Steve really does a great job with everything he does and deserves everything the company works so hard for,” said Philip Cornier. Cornier was at the show representing Magnolia Bridals in Brooklyn, New York, that recently expanded into bridal gowns after years of making bridal veils. “These days you have to do it all to be successful; there just isn’t enough business for the growing competition, so I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he told eWNz.

Philip Cornier helped to launch gowns for a veil company this season, handling everything from design, photo shoots,  web presence, publicity and sales. Gown by Magnolia tuxedo courtesy of FLOW.

 

Cornier and others said traffic at the show started off a bit slow but grew as the weekend progressed. Some wondered about how New York market will be.

“The problem with these shows is the timing. We’re already in production because we started selling way back in May,” according to Larry Warshaw of Justin Alexander.

Warshaw told eWedNewz he was a bit disappointed with the traffic in Chicago but very pleased with his business, overall. Warshaw told eWedNewz he flies selected accounts to exotic locations and shows, including Barcelona, Spain, with no obligation to buy.

Sara Morris, owner of the Something Blue shop in Alabama, says she was flown to spectacular places with zero pressure to buy. She gives Larry Warshaw and the Justin Alexander team a great review and cautioned about some of the other companies that aren’t as conducive to the success of smaller operators.

 

Larry Warshaw joins other manufacturers that weren’t happy with attendance agreeing the majority of buying is all but over by September. Sources from both the manufacturing and retail side of the wedding dress business, as well as adjunct businesses including tuxedos, say they don’t know what is going to happen to trade shows in general.

Several companies have contacted eWedNewz wanting to know more about internet marketing and direct sales to consumers. None would give their permission to be quoted but admitted traditional methods are fast becoming a thing of the past.

 

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2011

Sketchy Reports Around Brides.com Allege Inappropriate Behavior

 

By Paul Pannone

eWedNewz learned of a sketchy report surrounding store listings on Brides.com alleging the company diverted traffic to preferred advertisers as a value added exchange for print advertisement. The allegations come from a competitor of Brides.com and Brides magazine, both properties of Conde’ Nast.

According to a posting made in Bridal Support and individual emails to dress manufacturers, “There’s a major problem on Brides.com.  Consumers are being referred to David’s and Angelo stores to find gowns by Allure, Impression, Essense, Eve of Milady, Anjolique, Aria, Casablanca, Forever Yours, Jasmine, Jordan, Justin Alexander, Mary’s, Private Label, Eden, Rivini and others. You probably haven’t noticed, but you have a serious problem with retail listings on Brides.com. Consumers interested in your gowns are referred to retailers that don’t sell them.  Don’t take my word of it.  Go to Brides.com and check it out for yourself.  The site isn’t easy to navigate.  A consumer led me through the process:

INSTRUCTIONS
Click on the bridal gown image labeled “Wedding Dresses” on the Brides.com homepage.  This brings you to a list of all bridal gown designers.  Click on Allure.  Now you’re on a page that spotlights your gown images.  Click on ANY image.  The new page features an enlarged gown image and description.  To the right of the image, you’re offered an opportunity find a “bridal salon in your area that sells Allure.”  Click on the offer and you’re on a page that asks you to identify a vendor by region (I clicked Dallas as my test market).  This takes you to a page labeled “Dallas/Ft. Worth Wedding vendors” and a pull down bar to “find a vendor.”  Click on Wedding Gowns.  Specify Dallas, TX as “near city, state, zip code.”  Finally, you’ve arrived at a list of twelve (12) retailers that presumably sell Allure gowns in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.  Here’s the list:

Bridals by Demetrios, Frisco, TX
Priscilla of Boston, Dallas, TX
David’s, Mesquite, TX
Alfred Angelo, Frisco, TX
David’s, Dallas, TX
David’s, Frisco, TX
David’s, Hurst, TX
Brides & Beaux, Collegville, TX
Alfred Angelo, Garland, TX
David’s, Ft. Worth, TX
David”s, Lewisville, TX
David’s, Arlington, TX

This same list appears for Paloma Blanca, Impression, Justin Alexander, Jasmine, and Eden among others.  The list DOES NOT APPEAR for Mori Lee, Venus, Group USA and more.  Someone at Brides made a conscious decision to include these listings with your brand name and not with some of your competitors. 

Brides offers images on its site as a Value Added exchange for a print ad commitment.  Therefore, you’re paying for the error that drives consumers to David’s and Angelo to find your gowns.  Every customer that is diverted away from an authorized, full service bridal retailer represents a sale that is lost to you and lost to your retail partners. 

Gown images on BridalGuide.com are offered free of charge to all manufacturers.  Retail listings are free to print Retail Co-Op participants.  Alternatively, we link to your site for a list of authorized retail stores.”

 

Assertions by a competitor say Brides.com knowingly diverted traffic to preferred advertisers.

 

Discussions with the source of the assertion said, “The people who manage their web site aren’t the people who sell.Therefore, they probably don’t understand the impact of what they’ve done.”

Attempts to reach Brides.com management via e-mail and telephone for a statement remain unsuccessful but are ongoing. eWedNewz continues our investigation into the allegations.

 

 

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2011 

Reports say Sales are Down at Major Bridal Salons including Kleinfeld

 

By Paul Pannone

A tip last week told eWedNewz sales are down at major bridal salons that sell wedding dresses above the national price average. High-end stores are vulnerable to the downward price compression caused by off-shore manufacturing, discounting and websites that are eroding pricing power, without recourse.

An email from national sales manager at Priscilla of Boston, Kimberly Marcoux,  obtained by eWNz gave a heads up to wholesale accounts and buyers on a  private 20% sale scheduled to appear on Priscilla of Boston’s website beginning today.

According to the email from Marcoux, “Priscilla of Boston retail salons, which are located in most major cities throughout the U.S., will be having a private 20% off sale in-store only 5/19-5/22.  They will also be having a public 20% off sale that will be advertised on the website 5/23-6/6. 

I wanted to make sure that all of you are aware of this sale that will occur at the POB retail salons only.  Please feel free to contact me or George Manley, our Director of Wholesale with any questions.”

 

Sources that gave accurate information about Priscilla of Boston allege sales are down at Kleinfeld.

 

The same sources that said Priscilla would offer a 20% discount on their website also revealed lower sales at major stores, including Kleinfeld in New York. According to reports, “Sales are down “big time!”. Their top-selling gowns are Maggie Soterro and two house labels; Pnina Tornai and Henry Roth.”

eWedNewz is watching all portions of the wedding dress business, expecting sales to drop because of over-production and lower demand. Declining support for Wedding Markets strongly suggests a glut of products on the market. Increased competition and discounting also hinder the bridal dress market.

Speculation from sources near the story weighed in saying, ” Priscilla is a corporate entity — not a mom-and-pop bridal shop.  A 20% off sale is typical of high-end ready-to-wear retailers. However, it generally isn’t done in bridal — ever.  They’re probably hurting for money — just like a lot of high-end retailers.

As for Kleinfeld’s; it long has been rumored that they aren’t at the top of their game.  Maggie Sottero is one of the three top lines in the country.  Therefore, it doesn’t surprise me that Maggie is the top line at Kleinfeld’s.  Pnina Tornai is heavily promoted on Say Yes To The Dress.  It makes sense that they do well with it.  There’s nothing extraordinary about the styling.  It’s a house brand.  Henry Roth probably sells because of Henry — not because of the dresses.  Henry is fabulous; he’s a fantastic sales person.

Kleinfeld’s also sells a lot of Mon Cheri and Allure.  However, they increase the mark-up on these brands dramatically.  Bridal consumers are dull-witted but not entirely stupid.  Most discover very quickly that they can go to RK in Manhattan and get the same dress for $500 less.  Kleinfeld’s would probably have gone out of business a few years ago if it didn’t have the TV show.  They got lucky once.  Lightening doesn’t necessarily continue to strike in the same place again and again and again.”

 Attempts to contact persons mentioned in this story remain ongoing. A message was left for Mara Urshel of Kleinfeld after no one answering the phones would comment on the report of lower sales.

eWedNewz

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2011

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