I often get asked about how and where I buy the sample dresses from, and how I choose the dresses I stock. Typically, designers release two new collections every year to coincide with Bridal Week which takes place in March and September.
Bridal Week is when suppliers from the wedding industry come together in one place, either London or Harrogate, and showcase their products to bridal shops, like Lily Francis Bridal, hoping that we get lured into buying. There are wedding dress designers, bridesmaid dresses, dress bags, shoes, bridal jewelry, veils...everything that you could imagine that a bridal shop would need. There are catwalks throughout the day showing the next season's trends, and hundreds of exhibition stands to see.
Some designers decide to show their new collection at private events, whether that be at their headquarters or do various shows touring the UK. This week I was invited over to Richard Designs headquarters in Ely (conveniently not too far away from me!) to see their new designs. There were three catwalks throughout the day showing bridal, bridesmaid and occasion wear, as well as a tour of their factory, accessories on display, lunch, and some Prosecco may have made an appearance...
When choosing the dresses that I'd like to order for Lily Francis Bridal, I take into consideration a few factors:
Current bestsellers - Did my brides buy the "on-trend" dress from last season? Do my bestsellers have any similar features? What shape, style or colour do I sell the most?
Customer profile - I need to know who my customer is. The average height, size and shape all affect which dresses get chosen as to what suits. Are there any particular styles that brides ask for, or actively stay away from?
Local venues - I ask brides where their wedding venue is, as this helps them make an informed decision when choosing a dress, but this also helps me gain a rounded picture of the popular wedding venues/themes. I can use this information when choosing dresses for next season, and ensure that they are suitable for the venues where my brides are marrying.
Price - Obviously I have to use my head sometimes, and not just my heart and choose the dresses that I love! Lily Francis Bridal has always had a maximum price-point and it is really important for me to ensure that I stay below this. I have found that brides find this information so vital when choosing where they shop. It is invaluable for brides to help make a rounded and informed decision when dress-buying, therefore, I have to ensure that I choose dresses that would keep to this pricing structure.
Looking for new sample dresses is one of my favourite parts of my job for sure - the best shopping spree ever! It's no wonder that so many of my friends always ask to come along too! And the Richard Designs dresses for next season definitely didn't disappoint. I could have spent a fortune, but obviously that business head kicked in. There were so many beautiful gowns, with mixes of the 2023 trends of classic and simple gowns with clean lines, as well as stunning new lace which is always a winner for the traditional bride. They also this year have mixed it up adding some colour too with an incredible soft blue gown which will cover your "something blue".
I can't wait to show you what I ordered, but for now, it's top secret...