Walk into a typical wedding dress retail location, and the first thing customers see when they walk in the door is rows and rows of fluffy white gowns. Direct-to-consumer wedding dress brand Floravere is different. Inside the brand’s first flagship store, which opened in New York City this week, there’s not a dress in sight upon entry.
The brand launched in November 2016 with a focus on its direct-to-consumer business, where consumers could order dress styles online and have them sent to their homes in a “bride box.” Each box came with the selected dresses to try on, dress clips, a measuring tape and some seasonal items like champagne gummies. Both Felicis Ventures and Serena Williams are investors in the company.
“Think about how much square footage you typically have to use for inventory, where people are [often] aimlessly browsing and you don’t have the insight into what they are actually looking for. We wanted to really rethink that. We consolidated that piece of the store, and it gave us a lot more square footage to engage the bride and her guests in more interesting ways,” said Denise Jin, co-founder of Floravere.
A no-dress showroom, along with other store elements like private suites for brides to try on and show off dresses are all part of the brand’s plan to reinvent the retail experience, with millennial brides in mind. Jin and her co-founder Molly Kang are both millennials themselves and felt the wedding-dress shopping experience desperately needed a makeover.
“We are millennial women, and the way we shop for everything else has gotten better, but wedding-dress shopping has stayed exactly the same. Not only that, but it’s gotten even more frustrating,” said Jin. “Ninety-five percent of brides don’t purchase their dress offline. They want that experience of going somewhere and trying on, but a lot of traditional stores are such a black box. There’s so much inventory. There was such a clear opportunity to do something innovative in retail that seamlessly takes someone from social media to the store. We like to say from IG to IRL.”
Inside Floravere’s New York shop, there’s a small collection of dresses displayed inside the brand’s dress closet. Those dresses are pre-selected by a Floravere stylist based on what the bride-to-be previously selected online, along with some additional suggestions. Each dress is also styled with shoes and accessories for the bride, according to “what she’s told us about her vibe, what she is envisioning for her wedding and what kind of bride she is,” Jin said. Only one bride is in the dress closet at a time, to make the experience as personal and effortless as possible.
“The newer players in this space are making things feel more experiential and more high-touch, regardless of the price point,” said Jennifer Spector, Zola’s director of brand.
Attached to the dress closet, which flips as new customers come in, Floravere has three private suites for brides and their guests, where brides can try on their chosen gowns and guests can relax. Each suite comes equipped with a tablet that takes 360-degree photos, a wedding mood board curated by the stylist, custom playlists and more. The brand uses data gathered through an online questionnaire filled out by customers before their appointment to create the perfect mood.
The store also has a main showroom — not with dresses, but instead filled with other wedding essentials, from jewelry and shoes to bachelorette-party bathing suits and gifts for bridesmaids. For example, it includes swimwear from Solid & Striped, travel essentials from Cuyana, lingerie from Journelle and conscious beauty products by Kosas. Jin said the aim is to create one-stop shop for everything a bride might need.
“Right now, if you’re a bride, you have a bunch of purchases that you make between engagement and wedding, and they are completely disjointed. You go somewhere different for your shoes, your accessories, your bridesmaids’ dresses, your rehearsal dinner look. All of that is so disjointed,” she said.
While this isn’t Floravere’s first venture into physical retail, it’s definitely its largest. In other cities across the country, Floravere partners with luxury hotels to rent out suites on the weekends where it hosts wedding dress pop-ups, allowing brides to try on the dresses the brand sells online.