As the world-renowned and most influential of all bridal events changes its format in observance of the new health and safety measures, Wedding Trader talked to Estermaria Laruccia, VBBFW Director
Business has changed as a result of the pandemic and the possibility of further outbreaks. How should/can retailers persuade future brides to buy from them when the lockdown no longer applies to bridal stores?
The consequences of the health crisis generated by the pandemic have certainly disrupted our personal and professional habits and they’re also changing the dynamics of the market and, above all, the way we relate to each other, shop and do business.
The new technologies are playing – and will continue to play – an increasingly important role, as was made clear in the study titled The Shops Of The Future For Millennial Brides that VBBFW asked IESE Professor Nueno to conduct.
The future has arrived in an unexpected and dramatic manner and it has also accelerated changes that were pending in the retail channel. Bridal stores will also have to change the way they seduce their customers, facilitating virtual shopping journeys and welcoming the bride to the store solely for the final phase of the purchase.
They’ll obviously have to adapt their premises to the health safety standards stemming from the pandemic, but this will be the final step; beforehand they’ll have to activate effective communication focused on very specific targets and make the experience more enjoyable.
Generally speaking, companies will have to compete in a new environment marked by social distancing, accelerated digitisation, a reconfiguration of the global supply chains and the need to show that they’re sustainable in the face of a more aware and demanding society. It’s essential for everyone to reconnect with the professionals from the sector and future brides. And getting used to doing so in this new environment is fundamental if we want to be ready and well-prepared as soon as the situation improves. Weddings haven’t been cancelled, they’ve just been postponed.
What style will the weddings of the future adopt?
Weddings represent a very intimate and social moment. They’re a celebration of love accompanied by the important people in the lives of the bride and groom and their families. And we’ll continue to hold lots of weddings. In fact, 2021 could combine those that have been postponed this year and those scheduled for next year.
The budget may be lower in some cases, and this will particularly affect some of the items that make up the cost of the wedding, such as the reception, the number of guests and the honeymoon. However, the bride’s dress in particular, but also the groom’s and guests’ clothes, will continue to be regarded as priorities.
Bridal brands will have to adapt the delivery schedule to the new reality, and proper planning of supplies and operations will be essential.
What will the event of the future be like? Will it be very different in the case of, say, VBBFW? How and when will retailers be able to see and touch the latest collections?
The new VBBFW will reward them with a Phigital experience bringing together the best of the physical and digital worlds. But, due to the uncertainty of the current times, the commercial contacts and the presentations of the new collections at the next show in September will be organised in our digital space to guarantee our customers’ safety.
This will be an immersive and interactive space that’s virtually connected with the sector’s operators all over the world. The fashion shows will be pre-recorded on an innovative 400m2 stage consisting of LED screens seven metres high and over 20 metres wide. It will be able to adapt to the artistic needs of each designer, thus creating an immersive and unique experience for each presentation. The shows will be pre-recorded with the necessary safety measures in place and streamed from 18th September. They will be accessible to a global audience who will experience the show in an interactive manner.
The platform will also permit the establishment of a network of business contacts with a global audience, facilitating the interaction of the brands with buyers, wedding planners, influencers and specifiers in an online environment so as to showcase the collections, create an impact with direct communication and reveal the latest news and opportunities within the industry.
The digital space will provide different services such as the online showroom, chat and video conferences and the chance to collect audience data segmented by countries, ages or preferences.
The VBBFW app will be designed in a simple and intuitive way so that buyers and influencers can browse, chat and meet up virtually with brand representatives, at any time and from anywhere, via a mobile phone or computer. We’re developing this with La Fura dels Baus, the theatre company specialising in the production of disruptive shows, the one that organised the opening ceremony for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and which, since then, has continued to create subversive performances for circuses, the opera, theatres, parades and the performing arts in general.
This partnership will enable us to combine creativity and technological innovation to overcome the limits placed on us by this new context, thanks to the creation of a digital space to reconnect the protagonists of bridal fashion and revive the passion of our industry in a different global setting.
VBBFW will seek, more than ever before, to provide the industry with all the support possible in order to relaunch business at a particularly complex time.
We will maintain this digital exchange channel in future years, even when things have returned to normal, because it offers a wonderful opportunity to multiply the connections between the domestic and international stakeholders in the sector in a direct and immediate manner. And it will also facilitate on-site visits to the next show in 2021. This year, retailers will be able to see the collections of the participating brands in a virtual environment and view those of the other firms connected to the digital platform. On this occasion they won’t be able to ‘touch’ the products, but they’ll have the chance to talk to the manufacturers, distributors and designers, make appointments and complete orders.
Will weddings themselves change in terms of style and budget?
They’ll change but, as I mentioned, I’d like to stress that the weddings scheduled for 2020 haven’t been cancelled, they’ve been postponed. Weddings will become more intimate, with fewer guests. The costs may be lower than usual, but couples will still want to celebrate their big day with their family and friends, and brides won’t forego the chance to wear the dress of their dreams. This, now more than ever before, is what instills us with optimism, strength and hope with regard to this year’s VBBFW, which will undoubtedly mark a new beginning for the industry.