As median household income and marriage age continues to grow in the U.S., so too does the bridal-wear market.
Wedding apparel is increasingly pushing toward e-commerce, while at the same time inspiring retailers to delve into bridal for the first time. A report released by retail data analytics company EDITED found there are currently 45,000 wedding-related items available globally online, an 80 percent increase from Q1 2015 to Q1 2016. Of the 45,000 bridal items, 50.8 percent are accessories, followed by dresses and gowns, at 19.3 percent.
The growth can largely be attributed to a boom in retailers like Modcloth, Restoration and Asos experimenting in the bridal market, while consumers simultaneously grow more comfortable searching for “trickier fit” items like lingerie and shoes online, according to Katie Smith, senior retail analyst at EDITED. Footwear comprises 17.8 percent of online bridal offerings and undergarments are 2.9 percent, the third and fourth highest percentages, respectively.
“As consumers these days we’re used to getting our hands on stuff very, very quickly and the price point we choose,” Smith said. “If we choose to shop luxury we can, but we can also go all the way down to mass market. We’re empowered to get the things we want to get our hands on.”
Nicole Haase, vp and general merchandising manager at ModCloth, echoed Smith, telling Digiday in April that shoppers still want personal flare in their wedding wear, but are seeking a new type of convenience and ease in procuring bridal wear than previous generations.
“People in this day and age want to buy something and have it delivered quickly,” Haase said. “They want convenience, speed and to still feel amazing about their wedding dress. The shopping pattern has shifted.”
Smith said social media has also fostered a desire for more affordable bridal wear, particularly for wedding goers, who are now subjected to wide-scale documentation across numerous social platforms. Attendees don’t want to be caught wearing the same outfit twice in Facebook and Instagram photos, and the new getups quickly get costly.
“These days weddings aren’t just one-day events,” Smith said. “We’ve stretched them out to include the pre-wedding breakfast, post-wedding lunch, bridal showers and bachelorette parties. Social media’s impact on that is that everybody just wants to wear a dress once. We’re very conscious of how we’re posted online.”
One of the most important trends the study uncovered, Smith said, was a growing convergence between emerging styles in regular apparel and bridal wear, specifically for garments like jumpsuits and crowns. The link is helping to push retailers that may be more cautious about experimenting in bridal wear.
“It’s interesting how close-knit regular apparel and bridal are moving together. It makes retailers more interested in doing bridal,” she said.
Looking to the future, Smith said she expects pricing to grow competitive, as more and more retailers jump into bridal wear at lower price points. This may include consignment, as the resale market continues to swell on the heel of successful ventures like The RealReal and Rent The Runway.
“While there’s a premium placed on bridal wear, we’re going to see those prices open up in the coming months and years,” Smith said.