A Wedding Dress Fit For The Millennial Bride

A Wedding Dress Fit For The Millennial Bride

Written by AnnaMay 17, 2018

A Wedding Dress Fit For The Millennial Bride

The royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has caused a frenzy, and it’s not about the lemon elderflower cake nor the romantic white rose bouquet. Brides all over the world are waiting with bated breath for the grand reveal of THE DRESS.

The mass-market, however, is not holding any breath and clamouring for the next royal dupe. And it’s not the first time.

Back in 2011, Kate Middleton did not disappoint with a simple yet elegant gown designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, featuring long lace sleeves, and a silk tulle laced with hand-embroidered flowers. While the Duchess of Cambridge’s designer dress cost a reported $434,000, mass-market retailer H&M has given budgeting brides a chance to don a similar version, complete with the same lace bodice and V-neck design, at only $299.

omnilytics kate middleton wedding dress millennial bride

Source: Getty Images

omnilytics kate middleton wedding dress millennial bride H&M

Source: H&M

According to The Knot’s 2017 Real Weddings Study, couples spend an average of $33,391 on a wedding, a slight markdown from the previous year. From that amount, less than 10% ($1,509 on average) was spent on a wedding dress as shown below.

omnilytics the knot 2017 national average spend on wedding chart

Source: The Knot

In this case, H&M has got something going but they are not the only ones in the game.

Mass-market Driving Affordability

There has been a huge cultural shift from decades ago when women will spend a fortune just to be swathed in clouds of lace and chiffon. Sure, every bride desires to be married in a spectacular dress, but without maxing out credit cards or taking out a bank loan.

Lucky for them, the rise of mass-market retailers in the bridal industry has led to cheaper dress options. ASOS is at the top of the chain, with a 10.5% growth in its bridal assortment in 2017 and the average price of a dress costing an affordable $196.25.

ASOS Design Director Vanessa Spence told Dailymail,” Keeping prices low means brides can buy more than one outfit – for example, choosing a different look for the evening reception,” she said.

Even though the dresses are affordable, they look far from cheap.

omnilytics bridal wedding dress lace chiffon tulle asos

Top wedding dress styles from ASOS

omnilytics retail data ASOS Wedding Dress Assortment Based on Price Points

From the bar chart above, we know that Asos’ wedding dresses were mainly in the $200-250 zone, which is considered a steal in the bridal world. With such a low price tag, did they sell well?

omnilytics retail data asos stocked SKUs and sellout rates

*SKU count depicted in bar chart is derived from total product count on a month-by-month basis (non-unique)

Definitely. The ultra-fast fashion retailer had an exceptional sell out in March, with 94.4% out of 18 SKUs flying off the racks. Though their bridal collection is not as vast as other categories, the number of SKUs increased every month since January this year. This indicated immense popularity of summer weddings leading to the royal nuptials this month.

That was for mass-market. What about high street players such as UK fashion label Chi Chi London?

omnilytics retail data chi chi london stocked SKUs and sellout rates

*SKU count depicted in bar chart is derived from total product count on a month-by-month basis (non-unique)

Fairly high, with some discounts. An obvious month-by-month pickup of sellouts, possibly in anticipation of the royal wedding, proved a win for online retailers aiming to introduce affordable bridalwear in their current offering.

But wait, does this mean…

Millennial Brides Are Going Online?

Purchasing bridal and bridesmaids dresses online is big business. Not only fast fashion but luxury and high-end bridal wear retailers are switching gears and embracing omni-channel marketing. We have now arrived at the age of millennial weddings, where internet-savvy brides are adept at purchasing online. Furthermore, the “experience over material goods” mindset meant couples are focusing more on social media-worthy events, like the honeymoon for example, rather than splurging on “The Dress”.

Popular wedding planning site, the Knot’s Editor in Chief Kristen Maxwell Cooper can relate to the millennial couple. “They really do value experiences,” she says. “They already have everything they need.”

As such, launching a bridalwear collection for Net-a-Porter was a no-brainer. Fashion Director, Holli Rogers said, ”By and large, [our bridal and ready-to-wear customers] are the same. They lead phenomenally busy lives and don’t always have the time for the more traditional approach which involves multiple fittings.” And it’s not just locally. Their online bridal boutique has now shipped to consumer in over 65 countries worldwide, offering styles and designs that are more attuned to the needs of the modern, 20th century bride.

So what exactly are 20th century brides buying into now?

Functional Over Traditional


“Women today are creative, practical, and are breaking the often-outdated rules of fashion,” said Net-A-Porter senior buyer Holly Russell. There are no longer standards when it comes to wedding gowns and brides are even opting for interchangeable mix of tops and skirts, from minimalistic styles to embellished vintage-inspired looks.

Millie Martini Bratton, Editor-in-Chief of Conde Nast’s Brides magazine quipped that women want a dress that looks like them, in a style that looks like today.

“Brides today want fashion at all price points,” she said. ”The wedding dress “is not just a ceremonial costume, but has gotten closer and closer” to real clothes.”omnilytics retail data maxi skirt asos needle&thread, missguided bridal wedding wearAsos Bridal Satin Trumpet Skirt, Needle & Thread Embellished Tulle Maxi Skirt, Missguided White Lace Maxi Skirt

And it’s not just mass-market retailers who are buying into the “styled-down and wear-again” version of bridalwear. Carolina Herrera of her own namesake designer brand ”strongly believe in separates for weddings.”

Luxury retailers and ready-to-wear designers targeting bridalwear should take advantage of this opportunity. Offering functional collections to attract customers who are aware of high-end fashion but cannot afford to purchase regularly, except on that one very special occasion of their entire lives.

Dressing Like A Princess

It’s becoming a real steal to dress like royalty today.

At the start of this article, we talked about royal dupes and how Kate Middleton’s dress has been replicated to fit a cheaper price tag by H&M. And since it has been reported that Prince Harry’s bride may choose a design that embraces both sleeves and lace, much like Kate’s, we wonder if such patterns have been selling out for mass-market retailers?

omnilytics retail data wedding dress bestseller chichilondon, needle & thread, asos bridal wear

Chi Chi London, Asos, Needle & Thread

Notice the similarities between all three best-selling dresses in the image above? Each had elements of the long sleeve and lace woven into the designs. The only black sheep would be Chi Chi London’s knee-length version, which seemed to appeal to millennial brides as the dress has been out-of-stock since March 2018. While the dress for the upcoming royal wedding will reach a minimum six-figure price tag, each of the dresses above cost below $1200.

Mass-market retailers have clearly got something going for them. Every bride wants to look like a million dollars on her wedding day but if she can do it at a fraction of a million dollars, why ever not? And this is just the beginning. Expect more mass-market labels to infiltrate the digital retail scene this year. And all the brides say…”I Do”.

Thinking about tapping into the bridalwear market? Drop us an email at info@omnilytics.co and we’ll be in touch!

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