From just one label and a handful of stockists as a start-up brand in 2005, to Finalists in the 2018 Bridal Buyer Awards for Best Bridesmaid Collection of the Year, we reflect on True Bride’s journey so far, what the future for maids’ dresses may hold, and the true meaning of success…
True Bride turned 18 this year and what a coming-of-age party she has had! With four brilliant bridesmaids’ collections this has become one of the most sought-after maids’ brands on the market – an incredible success story after owner Nicki Flynn took that initial plunge and went it alone back in 2005.
Maid for the journey…
Fresh out of university, Nicki began working at Next HQ as a womenswear buyer and never left the impulse for cutting-edge fashion behind. Back in 2005, the UK bridesmaid market was rather limited; it followed US trends; focused on colours that weren’t really fashionable, and the silhouettes on offer were quite basic – almost as if the bridesmaid was an afterthought. Nicki felt that there was the gap in the market: brides and maids themselves were looking for a more fashion-led selection of dresses, with the focus on attention to detail, hand embellishments, and fresher colour palettes. “The silhouettes needed a touch of glam but designs had to suit all sizes,” says Nicki. “This was our little niche and we’ve built on this concept year on year.”
The initial years were certainly a challenge. Quite a few obstacles were thrown Nicki’s way in the form of a previous business relationship, but as a brand, True Bride stuck to its principles and goals. “I’d worked for large wholesale businesses in our industry,” says Nicki, “and it became clear to me that ‘big isn’t always beautiful’; large turnover was not – and still isn’t – our goal.” Beautiful, commercial designs, coupled with a strong team focused on customer service and quality, remains True Bride’s guiding philosophy.
’Tis a popular philosophy…
Working hard to give the girls what they want, True Brides’ collections have consistently proved a hit and are now stocked in 190 UK stores.
Designing six months ahead allows True Bride to react quickly to any emerging trends as well as offering customers a new collection twice a year. The collections have a very clear sense of self that speaks to, and caters for, different brides and their budgets.
True Bridesmaids is the label’s highest repeating collection, aimed at the mid-to-high-end market (retailing from £175-£315). The Luna Collection is ultra-glam and red-carpet worthy (we love the 1920s-inspired beaded dresses!), starting from £200. The Essentials Collection is True Bride’s price-savvy label (although with no compromise on design), and generally retails at under £200 per gown. Finally, True Curves is the brand’s dedicated plus-size collection and now in its second season.
Future-proofing the Maids market…
The bridesmaids’ market faces challenges apace with the bridal industry as a whole as traditional boutiques struggle to respond to, and accommodate, brides’ online and high-street dress-shopping habits. Do designers, too, feel the strain?
“Online retailers such as ASOS and any form of copying, whether it’s overseas manufacturers or even closer to home, continue to make life difficult,” says Nicki. True Bride invests money in photography and its website so it remains extremely frustrating when copycats use True Brides’ images to promote their own services.
But Nicki remains confident that retailers and suppliers alike can fight the onslaught of high-street giants by staying ahead of the trends. ‘I think we all need to stay on our toes here,’ she says. ‘Clever use of social media and establishing a channel of communication with your target audience helps build a community of followers. We need to evolve; we need to challenge our preconceptions on designs, marketing, prices, and delivery, and we certainly need to listen carefully to the brides.’ And True Bride does just that. In the credit crunch of 2008, for example, True Bride launched their Essentials Collection offering more affordable dresses. Similarly, with the current uncertainties surrounding Brexit, and with retailers facing challenges from overseas retailers, True Bride have integrated their two bridal labels, removing minimum orders for the more luxury collection, Nicki Flynn. ‘We’re listening to stockists and hoping to accommodate their business growth by removing barriers,’ says Nicki.
Stockists take note…!
Offering a selection of bridesmaids’ dresses in your boutique helps brides visualise the ‘whole packet’; giving them an holistic, panoramic view of their day simply makes good business sense. Following True Bride’s success at Harrogate (we loved their plus-size model on the catwalk!), this should certainly give stockists food for thought: the Essentials Collection starter packs sold out almost immediately! True Bride offered stockists six dresses plus belts for only £375, all retailing at under £200. And our top tip for this season? True Bride’s Brighton Belle (T-length) dresses are going to be big…
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