This week, Sue Lovell of SNOB, looks admiringly at brands that have defined their strengths and adapted their offering accordingly
P’Demmie, as I like to refer to the global crisis, is keeping us on our toes regarding the change in guidance. But it reminds us that as with everything we do, we need to always be looking forward and always ready to adapt. Unless faced with a rattlesnake, a grizzly bear or you are about to sneeze with a full bladder, standing still is no guarantee you will survive.
As I keep reminding myself, we are very good at adapting and moving forward in this industry. There once was a time where only virgins and those who could keep a secret were able to wear a white dress and a veil on their wedding day, and if we had not moved with the times, there would be very slim pickings for us all. We evolve as our surroundings change. Change is a good thing – it is how we all stay fresh and focused – and by keeping an eye on the direction certain aspects of this industry are going, while we can’t predict the future, we can make an informed decision to anticipate where we need to be.
I was talking with the very fabulous Vivien Felstein of Veromia this morning; it has always been the team there who have made the brand the success it is. The Veromia stand at Harrogate was always where the the loudest laughter, the warmest hugs and the best welcomes were delivered. Always buzzing with bridal chatter, you never failed to leave without a feeling that you were in good hands.
I think it was in 2009 when there was a standing ovation as Sonsie hit the catwalk. Showing the world that brides aren’t always a size 10 and there is a big and beautiful market out there for everyone to be represented with stylish, well-made and well-thought-out designs.
I took the label on a few years ago, and my brides love it – I have always described wearing a Sonsie dress as wearing a hug, a dress that supports you. So, it was so good to hear that Veromia will be focusing on their plus size bridal range, along with Occasionwear.
The question I get asked the most by mums when they visit me, is: “Where can I get Mother of the Bride?”. Now so many of the department stores are closing across the country, the choice is limited, and many women do not want to buy such an important outfit online.
Veromia Occasions, along with Dressed Up and Irresistible form a strong portfolio in a vibrant sector, and for that reason Veromia is saying goodbye to the bridesmaid market (14th August is when last orders are taken) and a big ‘Hey there’ to the future, with the same warm embrace, huge welcoming smile, and joy that it has always given.
Whilst it is sad to see the bridesmaid line go, I fully understand and support the decision. The bridesmaid market has evolved, and more and more brides are looking to cut costs, and buying online. But often they head to bridal shops first, to try on, get ideas of styles and colours, and sometimes sizes, in order to buy online. Many times they have already purchased the dresses, but want the experience of trying on together. That is not a sustainable business model, and the time spent and investment into stock is not viable for many stores. Mine included.
I do hope though, that where Veromia has decided to leave bridesmaids, another reputable and reliable supplier will step in to fill the gap. There are some very poor excuses for designers out there.
I was incensed recently to see recently a shop selling inferior bridesmaid dresses prices you would expect to pay for an authentic label. The dresses were clearly a low-budget, poor-quality purchase – but have been sold to the unsuspecting bride as genuine. No integrity there at all.
I have also seen a supplier, who purports to be a UK-based company, refuse to give any help to a shop that had had a very bad experience with the quality of a batch of dresses. They seem to think the UK consumer laws do not apply to them. This industry isn’t just about selling dresses, it is about giving customer service and a product to be proud of. Mistakes and mishaps occur, but when they do, it is the knowledge that the company we buy from, and we often represent, will be there with us, putting it right.
So, as we adapt and grow, we should make sure we are growing with the right people by our side, those who are looking to grow and prosper by offering a decent product, great customer service, and who want to be part of an industry that has high standards.
As bridal shops, we don’t just sell a product, we provide a service, and bring dreams to life. If we do not value the needs and requirements of our customers, then perhaps it is time to move elsewhere.
My focus is on providing a safe environment for my brides to shop in, where they can see for themselves the gorgeous quality and stunning designs that all my designers have to offer. I am sad that bridesmaids will not be part of my future plans (for the moment), but I look forward to the future with Sonsie by my side, and hugs – even if virtual – from Viv and her team.