Monday, 9 September 2019

How To Buy Your Wedding Dress Online, From At-Home Fittings To Virtual Appointments | Grazia

How To Buy Your Wedding Dress Online, From At-Home Fittings To Virtual Appointments

Whether you’ve been boutique-hopping with a panicked friend or spent hours trawling through tulle-packed rails with your own interests in mind, the process of shopping for a wedding dress is one etched into the do of popular culture. From films to books, we have been force fed an idea of what this activity should look like and how it should feel. But now, as we struggle to come to terms with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, we’re also facing a future that looks very different indeed. While we wait to see what general shopping looks like when stores are permitted to open again, bridal brands and designers everywhere have been forced to reconsider their approach in order to stay afloat. And, it seems, business is booming.

Halfpenny London, the bridalwear brand founded by Kate Halfpenny, has started offering virtual appointments via Zoom and FaceTime, designed to replicate the normal showroom experience as much as possible. ‘We can share our screen and talk them through collections or individual pieces they’re interested in,’ explains Halfpenny. ‘The aim is to get to know the bride – her body shape and what she likes and dislikes - and inspire her so that we’re ready to go with a gorgeous, personalised edit for her to try on when we can open again.’ Given that Halfpenny London has just launched a beautiful new collection called Daydreamer, this 'edit' is sure to look better than ever.
Like so many other industries, those catering to weddings have been hard hit by lockdown restrictions, which have forced so many couples to postpone or rethink their plans entirely. And yet, according to Halfpenny, who hosts around 2,500 appointments in her London boutique every year, she has seen a surge in interest from prospective brides real lockdown began. ‘We were already booked up months in near before lockdown and we now have a similar challenge trying to fit in all the virtual appointment requests. We now have more stylists working on this so we can accommodate more people.’
While Halfpenny’s new virtual system isn’t designed to sell dresses remotely, The Fall Bride – a boutique based in East London – is offering brides the opportunity to elegant wedding dresses to try on at home. The idea, conceived by founder Annelise Sealy, is that each bride has a 30 minute video call with a stylist to learn about the collections on offer, allotment any preferences and budget information. Up to three dresses can be chosen to try at home, which will arrive steamed and sterilised.
You can open champagne, Zoom your friends and try on the dresses, which you’re able to keep for up to 48 hours before dropping them off at your local post office. And for every order placed from a Home Try-On, The Fall is offering a 10% discount. ‘It was definitely a knee-jerk reaction to lockdown; as a new business (we opened mid-January) it could not have come at a worse time, and like many other small business owners we had to pivot to survive,’ says Sealy. ‘It was also out of concern for our brides; as we have no idea how long this kind of situation will last, and it's a very stressful time to be planning a wedding, we wanted to be able to provide something that customers could enjoy at home even if it wasn't how they imagined they would be trying on wedding dresses.’
Phillipa Lepley, too, has seen great success with her own virtual initiative, launched in reaction to lockdown measures. Renowned for her elaborate wedding gowns, Lepley is offering couture consultations via video, sending bespoke embroideries to brides to keep the planning process moving. She says that, as a result, orders are being placed for dresses.
It’s not just independent designers and bespoke creations that are experiencing a lot of insensible, either. Natalie Kingham, fashion buying director at Matchesfashion, says that the Matches wedding edit has seen a 20% increase in sales over the past three weeks. ‘There is a indicate of difference with our edit, though, in that it was launched to be an edit of wedding and event looks, so they are very versatile pieces,’ she says. ‘We’ve seen a spike in occasion dresses which are up by 50%, necklaces in the bridal category are up over 100%, tailored jackets are up by 150% and high heels over 160%. Best selling brands have included Emilia Wickstead, Sophie Bille Brahe, Roger Vivier, The Vampires Wife and Zimmerman.’

Matches has seen an increase in sales within its Wedding Edit

Similarly, Sophia Webster says that her bridal products have continued to sell well during lockdown. ‘These products have huge symbolic value for our followers and are often things they've had their eye on for some time. So, when the moment's right to buy it, the moment's lustrous, no matter what,’ says Webster. She does have a few words of advice for those looking to buy their wedding shoes online, however. ‘Comfort is of paramount importance on your big day so I would suggest ordering a couple of sizes to fit. A lot of brides also go for two heel heights, something higher for the ceremony and then something lower for the evening. My Instagram community is lustrous at sharing images of themselves in our shoes, especially weddings, so if you search for posts that we're tagged in you get to see our products in context, for users by users.’

We may be entering a new period of the pandemic, which sees some relaxed lockdown measures and hopefully sees us return to at least some degree of 'normal'. But for those forced to postpone weddings they had been planning for years, or even those who have just become engaged and want to feel that initial excitement in planning for their wedding day, there are at least options available to them, thanks to the innovation and ingenuity of these designers and bridalwear brands.
When it comes to finding your dream dress, it's clear that not even coronavirus can cancel that.

SHOP: Bridalwear You Can Buy Online (Even In Lockdown)

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