London - It's not big secret that planning and having a wedding is a time consuming and expensive affair. Wedding costs continue to soar around the world and today, a wedding in the UK is said to cost nearly as much as the average annual salary (between 21,000 and 25,000 pounds for a full time employee according to the ONS). As the cost of tying the knot increases, more and more couples are left footing the bill on their own, so resourceful brides and grooms look where they can cut a few corners and have the day of their dreams.
Although budget weddings may not sound very romantic, the idea has given birth to a new area within the fashion industry, namely affordable bridalwear. Over the past year, high street brands ranging from Asos to H&M, to J.Crew and Anthropologie, have all unveiled bridalwear collections and categories which have been stealing the spotlight and outperforming regular dress categories according to the latest data from EDITED, retail analytic service.
For J.Crew, the US retailer which has been struggling recently with high discounting and low sales, it's bridalwear has become a blessing not-so-in disguise and become one of its best categories. In fact, J.Crew's bridal dresses have sold out 1.4 times faster than their non-bridal counterpart, an obvious home run for the fashion retailer. Over at fashion e-tailer Asos, who debuted its own range of afforable bridalwear in time for Spring/Summer 2016. The retailer's bridalwear sell out rate is 4 percent higher than its non-bridal dress category, and the replenishment rate is an impressive 12 percent higher, suggesting the demand for affordable bridalwear is definitely growing.
Exploring the bridalwear high-street
On the high street, the bridalwear collections are doing well. The above charts show statistics for Asos, Misguided and Phase Eight’s wedding collections. The sellout rates are positive, and few bridal dresses are discounted.
The demand is reflected in the large product drops and increases over the past two years. Globally, there has been an 80 percent increase in bridal products from the first quarter of 2014 to the same period in 2015. Since then, there has been another 27 percent increase between the first quarter of 2015 and 2016 - and currently there are more bridal related items for sale at non-wedding specialist retailer such as H&M and Forever 21 than there are bomber jackets, this season trendy must-have. At the moment there are currently 45,000 wedding related items for sale online, worldwide. Looking at it from a womenswear only point of view, 7 percent of that offering is from the UK.
Bridal and Menswear assortment
"More and more, today’s couples are influenced by what they see passing for the norm on social media. They see pictures of Solange Knowles’ white bridal jumpsuit and realise, ‘hold on, I can bring the trends and culture I like to the altar too’. And the high street is perfectly positioned to cater to this new customer,” said Katie Smith, Senior Retail Analyst at EDITED.
Pricing: Bridal vs Non Bridal
Customers pay a premium for bridal items. Mass retailers, however, have slightly more opportunity within their price expectations than premium retailers, so mass retailers could expect higher margins on their bridal and bridesmaid dresses.
Although mass market retailers have been quick to fill the gap in the market, by all means not every bride and groom today is in search of bottom-low prices and are still willing to pay for more occasionwear. According to EDITED, fashion retailers charge on average 3.9 times more for a white bridal dress than for a similarly-styled normal white dress. The same holds truth for bridesmaid dresses offered by high street retailers, which tend to be on average 1.8 times more expensive than interchange dresses sold at the same retailer outside of the bridalwear or occasionwear range.
Wedding dress premium
Mass Retailers: bridesmaid dresses
Bridesmaid dresses at mass retailers are on average 1.8 times more expensive than a regular dress. Image above shows two similar dresses on Asos. The one on the right is from their wedding line and the left is not. Even though these dresses are quite similar, the bridesmaid dress is 1.4 times more expensive.
Chart credit: EDITED
Images sources: EDITED
Photo 1: Wedding dresses from Asos
Photo 2: Wedding dress Premium from Anthropologie
Photo 3: Bridemaids mass from Asos