Customization and personalization have touched every area of fashion, including bridal fashion. Vrai & Oro, a direct-to-consumer jewelry company based in California, is capitalizing on this shift with a new series of customizable engagement rings.
Launched last week, the offering called Partnerrings lets customers select from eight different ring styles and seven different diamond shapes, as well as a variety of metal types and colors, to build a custom engagement ring. While Vrai & Oro is not strictly a bridal brand, engagement rings make up about 50% of its business.
“Customization is definitely something that people were asking for,” said Vanessa Stofenmacher, founder and creative director of Vrai & Oro. “But they really weren’t looking to make anything crazy; they didn’t want to completely design the whole thing from scratch, because that can be really overwhelming.”
Stofenmacher said that while creating these custom rings on the backend is relatively seamless now, it took some work to establish parameters with the brand’s manufacturers that would allow it to turn around a custom ring with a hand-set diamond in seven days.
“We narrowed down the designs to just a core eight,” Stofenmacher said. “We could have done 20 different designs or four, but we settled on eight because it covered the personalities of our core shoppers.”
The wedding and bridal fashion sector is one that has been hit particularly hard by changes in fashion. David’s Bridal, once one of the largest bridal brands in the world, briefly filed for bankruptcy in November of 2018. Part of the brand’s problems stemmed from being unable to keep up with changing trends in how people shop and the tendency for younger people to wait longer to get married. Customization plays into the need for customers to have more granularity and control over their weddings.
“Particularly in bridal, there’s a move toward bespoke- and experience-driven events,” said Jackie Courtney, CEO of pre-owned bridal gown brand Nearly Newlywed. “The experience is key. That’s where the value is.”
Stofenmacher and Vrai & Oro have sought to side-step the problem of millennials delating marriage by disentangling the very idea of engagement rings from marriage. In marketing materials for the new Partnerings line, Vrai & Oro is emphasizing that a diamond ring does not necessarily symbolize marriage. An accompanying video campaign shows the rings being worn by a diverse array of couples, some who are married or engaged, some who aren’t, with emoji-filled text explaining that the diamond ring is a symbol of love in whatever form it takes.
For Stofenmacher, her hope is that young people who are not ready to actually get married can still see the value in a diamond ring to commemorate love.
“You don’t have to be a bride to have a diamond ring,” Stofenmacher said. “It can symbolize any sort of partnership, not necessarily one that’s bound through a legal document. The whole concept is that the ring doesn’t have to mean ‘bride.'”
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