In the studio with top bridal fashion designers Austin Scarlet, Babi Ahluwalia, and Katharine Polk, talking about why they got into making wedding dresses, new alternative wedding boutiques, and the new ways brides are thinking about their special day.
KATHARINE: “I don’t design with any rules for the bridal. I definitely have a lot more fun and a feel a lot restricted in terms of what I can do for bridal. I feel like it’s been a lot more accepted when I take chances during the bridal market on the bridal collection than ready to wear. I feel it’s so much more judged, and people are so much more worried about trends, and they wait to follow what the big houses are going to do, and you’re just… you’re locked into so many rules during ready to wear market, then during bridal I can have so much fun without caring about anything else, and the more chances I take, the more it’s accepted. People are enthused by it. Whether it’s color, or crazy silhouettes, or sending a girl down the runway in hot pants or in a fur, whatever it is, I think people are just more enthusiastic about taking those chances and just kind of shaking things up, rather than just seeing the same old. I think, even though it’s just for editorial kind-of shock value, it’s just more fun and a little refreshing. Whether we sell that piece or not, it just brings a smile to peoples faces to see that at a bridal show. But in terms of what we really sell and what I like to use, it’s definitely 99% silks, we’re 100% made in New York, and we definitely stand by that.” (20:26)
BABI: “The department stores, as much as we love and we need them, they run a very archaic model. And for better or worse, we need them. E-commerce is growing for us, we have a little store uptown, brick and mortar, and it matches, for the little push that we’re doing, it matches it. So, it’s really fantastic to see the growth of it, but in a Utopian world it’s brilliant to say, ‘buy now wear now,’ when you’ve got an amazing engine and you can sell it, but you’ve got to own the distribution. Only then, you can absolutely take a hiatus from showing six months ahead. In a perfect world. Until then, it’s a vicious cycle.” (31:33)
KATHARINE: “We ask all our brides where they found us. A huge majority found us on Instagram.” (39:22)
BABI: “How she thinks about a moment in her life. Getting married: important, but not the most important. So, I think perception of bridal [is changing]. That is what is so exciting about the young millenials and how they think and how they really shop. I mean, there was a department store lady who told me that the millennial bride is the most tattooed bride in generations. And she was going to buy, and if she’s 26 or 28 and she’s a trust fund kid or she’s done well in her initial part of her career, she doesn’t care if she’s buying Chanel or she’s buying something from Nordstrom. But that’s the gal, apparently. And that’s so exciting, I think.” (1:07:06)