Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Buying wedding dresses online: More brides are leaving physical stores at the altar

As a bride to be, Mary Thornally was dreading the experience of shopping for a wedding dress and, ultimately, paying an exorbitant price.

“My sister and I had planned to go look around at stores, but then the whole thought of it was really daunting to me,” said Thornally, a stay-at-home mom and San Francisco Bay Area resident, feeling “overwhelmed” by the thought of trying on dresses in person and making a decision on the spot.

With gowns and alterations averaging $1,509 per bride in 2017, according to wedding site TheKnot, Thornally said she needed a “practical” alternative because she is “drowning in student loan debt” and trying to avoid unnecessary expenses. She worked to keep costs down, for instance, by buying her bouquet at Safeway and having her sister serve as photographer.

from USA Today:

She also decided to buy her wedding dress on the internet, joining a wave of brides who are shopping online for a product long dominated by specialty stores and boutique shops. Online retail, social media, personalized fashion trends, alternative choices and declining marriage rates collectively pose a serious threat to brick-and-mortar wedding retailers.

Thornally ended up buying her dress for her late-August wedding for about $180 and getting it tailored for $160. And she was thrilled with the quality.

“All in all, I think $340 is incredibly cheap,” she said.

Wedding retailers get divorced

As more customers like Thornally embrace online alternatives, average gown prices are falling, and physical stores are struggling to adapt:

David‘s Bridal, once known for the tight grip it held on the wedding business, is facing serious financial challenges. David‘s Bridal still sells about one in three U.S. wedding dresses through its more than 300 stores and website, with estimated annual retail revenue of $791 million, according to market research firm IBISWorld.

But the company recently hired restructuring adviser Evercore to evaluate its options amid what S&P Global Ratings called “weak operating performance and weak liquidity.”

The Gap cut its Weddington Way brand, which primarily sold bridesmaid dresses at Banana Republic locations, in 2017.

J. Crew ended its bridal-wear line in fall 2016.

Many mom-and-pop shops and other wedding retailers have gone out of business, including Alfred Angelo Bridal, which abruptly closed its about 60 stores in a 2017 liquidation that left many brides scrambling to get dresses.

Another problem for traditional wedding dress sellers: Renting a gown is now just as easy as buying – and less expensive.

To be sure, wedding retailers often make money on other products, such as high school prom dresses or wedding accessories. But they live and die on the bridal gown business, which makes up about 43 percent of the wedding retail industry‘s revenue, according to IBISWorld.

The trend of Americans waiting longer to get married, or deciding not to altogether, isn‘t helping. The number of new marriages per 1,000 Americans was 6.9 in 2016, down from 8.2 in 2000, representing decline of about 16 percent in the wedding rate, according to the U.S. government.

With upstart online retailers offering lower prices and customized dresses, brides aren‘t abandoning traditional gowns altogether. But the days of wedding dresses coming in a limited number of shapes, sizes and prices from a select group of stores are coming to an end.

That might be good news for consumers seeking deals and choices. The average price paid for a wedding dress fell 3.5 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to TheKnot.

But physical retailers often can‘t afford to stock a wide mix of choices yet must continue paying steep real estate costs and invest in costly digital systems.

“The number of weddings has gone down over the last few years, but then there‘s also a trend of brides spending less on their wedding gowns,” said Mathew Christy, S&P Global Ratings analyst who studies David‘s Bridal. “A shopper can go online and do a price comparison between a number of different, similar adjacent products.”

David‘s Bridal left at the altar

For years, David‘s Bridal has been the giant in the budget wedding business. The company‘s wedding dresses average $599, according to IBISWorld.

But the company, which was acquired in 2012 for more than $1 billion by private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, has an “unsustainable” amount of debt and not enough money coming in to pay for it, Christy said. The company is turning a profit before interest, taxes and debt payments, but is facing a $520 million term loan due in October 2019.

Ratings agency Moody‘s ranked David‘s Bridal among .

he retailer plans to close nine stores in 2018 for a total of 309 remaining locations by the end of the year. The company‘s digital sales have improved but are still “lagging behind other competitors,” according to S&P.

David‘s Bridal said in a statement to USA TODAY that “our financial outlook is strong and we have ample liquidity to meet our key business objectives today and in the future.”

“The company continues to work with its long-time external legal counsel and has hired an external financial adviser to evaluate a number of options to strengthen our balance sheet so we can increase our financial flexibility and further invest in our business,” David‘s Bridal said.

The company said it is “laser-focused on operational excellence” and “providing a great experience for our customer base.”

To be sure, most wedding dresses are still sold in person – about 95 percent, according to online custom-wedding seller Anomalie. That could ultimately benefit David‘s Bridal if it can do a better job of seamlessly integrating its stores with its digital experience.

Alternatives sprout

But the pursuit of deals, customized dresses and convenience is fueling an online surge that many physical retailers aren‘t well equipped to counteract – much like department stores and have struggled to adapt to the digital age.

The internet, including social media outlets such as Pinterest, has usurped other sources as the primary method of wedding planning. About 92 percent used smartphones to plan their wedding in 2017, up from 42 percent in 2014, according to TheKnot.

Former Apple supply chain guru Leslie Voorhees co-founded online custom-wedding dress seller Anomalie in 2016 after experiencing a “pretty painful” in-person dress-shopping experience and “outrageous prices” when she was engaged to her now-husband and co-founder, Calley Means.

“It‘s crazy to have to pay thousands of dollars for a brand that you haven‘t even heard of, for a dress that you‘re only going to be wearing for one day,” she said.

Anomalie provides brides with the option to customize their dresses and choose from a wide range of sizes that are often difficult to find in physical stores.

Voorhees, who has hired multiple former David‘s Bridal employees to join her team at Anomalie, said David‘s Bridal has “an amazing supply chain and operational ability, but their process is antiquated.”

“Women are understanding that there has to be a better way,” she said.

The customization trend is especially problematic for traditional wedding stores, which can‘t necessarily afford to stock a wide range of dresses. Put simply, brides increasingly want a personal touch to their dresses. It can take the form of embroidery, a touch of color, special pockets or neck line adjustments.

“Women still do love the traditional bridal silhouettes and colors but want to put their spin on it, especially given the trends of customization in other areas of shopping,” Voorhees said. “We can really incorporate personal touches that makes the dress special.”

For her wedding, San Francisco-area resident Thornally ended up buying her dress on ASOS, which sells a wide variety of apparel, including hoodies, jeans, skirts and men‘s items.

She wasn‘t expecting much. But with free shipping and 30 days to return the dress, she figured, why not?

“It was very low risk for me to purchase the dress,” she said.

When she took it to her local tailor, she felt vindicated in her decision to go digital.

“The seamstress said she was really impressed with the quality of the fabric,” Thornally said.

Thornally said she had considered going to David‘s Bridal but never did. She had also heard from a friend about a local boutique store.

But when she looked it up, “it was closed permanently,” she said. “You‘re seeing a lot of these boutiques close.”

What Is Business Casual Wear For Women

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

New Vintage Clothing Shop in Hellertown is Owner's Second Location

RC Moore Vintage

The entrance to RC Moore Vintage Millinery, which opened Monday at its new location at 1561 Main Street in Hellertown. The store had been located on W. Third Street in Bethlehem. RC Moore also operates a a vintage clothing warehouse on Main Street in Hellertown.

The location of the vintage clothing shop that opened Monday in a cozy storefront at 1561 Main Street (the corner of Main Street and Wagner Avenue) in Hellertown is new, but the business itself isn’t.

Owner RC Moore decided to relocate her Southside Bethlehem retail shop to the borough after opening a walk-in warehouse here about two years ago and falling in love with the town, she said.

RC Moore Vintage

Rose Ellen “RC” Moore, owner of RC Moore Vintage and Millinery in Hellertown. (FILE PHOTO)

The new retail shop will be open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 6 p.m., and sells both women’s and men’s vintage fashions, shoes, jewelry, accessories and retro bric-a-brac.

Not a consignment shop, Moore purchases pre-1985 vintage clothing from a variety of sources for resale, both in her store and online, where you can find “everything from specialized steampunk attire to burlesque and belly dancing apparel and glamorous drag outfits,” according to her website. A milliner (or hat maker) she is also known for her custom, one-of-a-kind creations, which include apparel.

Moore said she has found the Hellertown community to be very supportive and is looking forward to hosting a grand opening event at her new store in the near future.

“Stop in and share our joy and appreciation,” she posted on Facebook Monday.

Her warehouse shop at 1180 Main Street (behind Paprika’s) will remain open, but will now be open to customers by appointment only, she said.

For more information about that, as well as regular updates from RC Moore Vintage, like her business Facebook page, and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

The store where RC Moore Vintage & Millinery is now located had been vacant for a number of years. One of its last uses was as a bakery.

Marilyn Monroe’s is a familiar face inside RC Moore Vintage.

A vintage Saucon Valley letterman’s jacket is one of many hard-to-find items for sale at RC Moore Vintage &  Millinery in Hellertown.

Iconic Barbie fashion comes alive through vintage clothing collaboration

Leanne Italie, The Associated Press
Published Tuesday, November 13, 2018 12:27PM EST

NEW YORK -- In time for her 60th birthday, Barbie has a new collaborator bringing her wide-ranging style to life for humans.

One of the largest sellers of vintage-inspired clothes, Unique Vintage, is working with Barbie parent Mattel on the first women's line to meticulously duplicate some of the doll's most iconic early looks. In the process, the company also has taken care of the one thing critics love to hate about Barbie, her very plastic hourglass physique, by offering the outfits in sizes XS to 4X.

The collaboration, Barbie x Unique Vintage, celebrates 1950s and '60s Babs. The company that sells online and in about 500 boutiques around the world plans to go even bigger for Barbie's big 6-0 next year, offering key fashion moments from across the rest of her decades.

Until then, for fall, we caught up with all things Barbie x Unique Vintage in the swanky Jewel Suite designed by jeweler-to-the-stars Martin Katz in the Lotte New York Palace hotel on Madison Avenue. Katz paired a few of the looks with some of his own bling, from $36,000 button earrings in a rainbow of sapphires, garnets and tourmaline to a $48,000 cocktail ring of Bombay spinel cabochons and round diamonds.

All of the glam pleases Katie Echeverry. She's the founder, CEO and creative director of Unique Vintage, an 18-year-old company with 60 employees based in Burbank, California. With her long blonde locks and Barbie-esque dimensions, Echeverry said she was a Babs fan as a girl but was also a "tomboy" who loved to play softball.

During a recent round of media interviews explaining how the collab came about, Echeverry donned a Kelly-green shawl dress worn by Barbie in 1962 and done by Unique Vintage in a forgiving stretch fabric. Noteworthy was Echeverry's most definitely un-Barbie upper-arm tattoo, on proud display in the off-shoulder outfit, as she recalled her luck.

"When I emailed Mattel, I didn't think they'd actually reply back, but they did, and I was thrilled," Echeverry told The Associated Press. "They ran with it. I couldn't believe they hadn't done it before."

Echeverry worked closely with Mattel but "they didn't dictate what I chose." Mattel opened its archives to her as she went about duplicating outfits, with adjustments to account for the real human form. She said she chose looks that "spoke to me."

Barbie, the doll, first hit store shelves in 1959. That year, she stepped out in a swirl of gold and white brocade for evening. The dress was among those Echeverry picked and sells for $118 on The matching collar coat with three-quarter sleeves trimmed in faux fur goes for $148.

Unique Vintage has brought Barbie fashion full circle, in a sense. It was a designer for actual women, Charlotte Johnson, who was hired to be the doll's first fashion creator. A Mattel team took over soon after Barbie's debut.

Echeverry's first Barbie go-around dropped in the spring. Social media fans of vintage and of Barbie took notice and sales have been brisk, she said. For fall, her prices range from $88 for an A-shaped Barbie flare skirt in green with a white hem to $198 for the doll's red matinee sleeveless sheath dress and short jacket trimmed with calico-colored faux fur.

It was important to Echeverry to choose looks that have remained iconic through the years but were wearable by women in the broad range of sizes she is committed to providing.

"I was like a kid in a candy store," she said. After the first season went on sale, Echeverry watched the response online, where nostalgia kicked in among fans who recalled favourite outfits, some gushing how they'd always wondered what it would be like to wear the looks themselves.

That goes a long way in explaining why Echeverry was more than a little dedicated to getting the clothes right.

"I went online and ordered every single vintage outfit myself. Mattel offered to lend them to me, but I was a little nervous about having some of their archives," she said. "In our fittings, we literally had the original Barbie dress next to the model. We moved Barbie. When I sourced fabrics overseas, I had Barbie clothes in my pocket and I was making sure we got as close as possible."

She was also dedicated to the price points she knows her buyers are after.

"I know our customer and she doesn't want to spend a lot of money, and I understand that," Echeverry said.

Unique Vintage sells shoes, hats, gloves, sunglasses and jewelry to complement the Barbie outfits. The company offers a red pillbox hat, for instance, to go with Barbie's 1962 red flare coat done in a soft felt with the same swing and puffy three-quarter sleeves and bow the doll wore, down to the white lining done in a white poly satin.

Barbie wore a cloche tweed hat with a rose with her "Career Girl" tweed pencil skirt set in 1963. Unique Vintage offers a black fascinator with a rose instead, for $22.

As for her afternoon of glam in the Martin Katz suite, with its shiny black grand piano and sparkling crystal ceiling decor on the 53rd floor of the Towers at Lotte, Echeverry was impressed.

"This is so glamorous. It's so much fun. The view's incredible," she said.

While noting Barbie's evolution as a "strong kick-ass woman" over the years, Echeverry said she was ready for a bit of her own reality after her recent promotional go-round.

"It's unusual to find me in a dress," she said. "As soon as this interview's over I'll be putting on my jeans and my T-shirt and be back to the regular Katie."

Get thrifty: Our 7 favourite vintage clothing stores in Vancouver

Fashion trends often come and go as fast as the weather changes.

Of course, you want to keep up as much as you can but it can get expensive if you’re in and out of high street stores all of the time.

That’s where vintage shopping comes in and Vancouver is home to a selection of amazing stores where you can find one-of-a-kind pieces from different eras to complement your style. Vintage shopping also allows you to be part of the sustainable clothing movement while supporting local businesses.

We’ve teamed up with Chevrolet Spark (the ultimate city car) to showcase our seven favourite vintage stores in Vancouver that need to be on your radar.


Founded in 2005, Mintage is one of the best places you’ll find vintage clothing in East Vancouver. The store is home to a selection of curated new vintage-inspired pieces, clothing and accessories. The store has an amazing vintage denim collection and leather jackets that will have you turning heads. Plus, Mintage recently opened another location on Broadway!

Address: 1714 Commercial Drive
Instagram: @mintage

Woo Vintage Clothing

With an inviting storefront, Woo Vintage catches your eye when you’re walking along Main Street. It was founded in 2004 and it’s home to an awesome collection of clothing from eras ranging from the 1950s onwards. It’s a super cozy boutique so don’t be surprised if you stay for a longer than you expected talking to the friendly business owners.

Address: 4393 Main Street
Instagram: @woovintage

Duchesse Vintage

Tucked away on Columbia Street, this quirky vintage store is one of the city’s hidden gems. It’s home to a collection of hand-selected wearables and curated small home furnishings so you can elevate your wardrobe and your living room after just one visit. Pro tip: This boutique has an awesome selection of jackets and sweaters to take you through winter.

Address: 430 Columbia Street
Instagram: @duchessevintage


Another hidden gem in Vancouver, faulknerandco is located above a coffee shop on East Hastings. If you get lost, look out for the streetside sign! Founder James Faulkner has filled this space with designer vintage pieces hand-selected from the UK, Europe, the US, and Canada. Try on your favourite pieces to get a feel for the sizing!

Address: 136 East Hastings Street
Instagram: @shopfaulkner

Community Thrift and Vintage

Community Thrift and Vintage have one location on Carrall Street in Gastown and another on West Hastings. It’s a social enterprise initiative and thrift store where you’ll find everything from oversized tees, to perfect leather bags, and all kinds of vintage denim jeans and jackets. Check out the accessory collection while you’re there.

Address: 311 Carrall Street | 11 West Hastings Street
Instagram: @communitythriftandvintage

C’est La Vie

You’ll find C’est La Vie in the bustling heart of Main Street and you definitely won’t miss it with its bright pink storefront. It’s a vintage and consignment boutique with a selection of quality, up-to-date pieces for men and women. You can search through baskets filled with scarves, try on one-of-a-kind hats, and find your feet in pristine condition footwear.

Address: 3247 Main Street
Instagram: @cestlavievintage

Far Out Vintage

Far Out Vintage is another downtown boutique where you’ll find all kinds of creative pieces from well-known brands and labels. If you’re on the lookout for some cool and casual wardrobe staples like shirts, tees, and denim jeans, make sure to check this place out the next time you’re in the city.

Address: 165 East Cordova Street
Instagram: @farout_vintage

Instagram: @pressboxvancity

The best part of shopping in your city is the chance to connect with new people and experiences. So it makes sense to have a fuel-efficient car that helps you stay connected. Chevrolet Spark does this by giving you all the tech you need on the go.

Chevrolet Spark/Daily Hive

This includes advanced phone integration such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, MyLink with a 7” capacitive touch screen available 4G LTE WiFi, a rearview camera, and 10 airbags.

If you choose the automatic transmission, you’ll save money on gas as it offers a highway fuel consumption rating of just 6.2 L/100 km.

Find out how the fuel-efficient car could work for your lifestyle here.

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Hair salon & clothing shop Florette now open in Hayes Valley

Hayes Valley has a new hair salon and clothing shop: Florette, which has taken over the space at 112 Gough St. (at Lily) formerly occupied by FLiP salon.

Founder Emily Baedeker, once a Hayes Valley resident, is no stranger to the neighborhood: she worked for eight years in the exact same space, as a stylist at previous tenant Mara's Salon.

She said always had the dream to make the salon her own one day, but eventually decided to move to Southern California instead. Upon her return to San Francisco, she worked out of Edo Salon in the Lower Haight.

Earlier this year, she looked into what it would take to get her first own commercial space, and realized the 1,100-square-foot Hayes Valley property was available.

"The space was always like an anchor to me," she said.

In addition to her history with the space, Baedeker says she chose it for its central location and proximity to BART and Muni stations. "Parking in the area is not great," she added.

She's updated the space with a fresh coat of paint and an '80s vibe. Those who walk might have already noticed two wooden planters outside, made by her father. Unfortunately, the flowers she planted in them were stolen overnight.

Baedeker, who's been cutting hair for 20 years, initially trained in Beverly Hills, under celebrity hair stylist Louis Licari. At Florette, she will work alongside three other stylists: Jordan Streetzel, Jillian Gnarling and Dionne Stevens.

All four will use hair dyes and styling products free of ammonia and artificial fragrances. Baedeker said that her goal is to share healthier hair products with everyone, not only those who "drink kale juice and practice yoga every day."

She's even created her own hair and body product, a shine serum that subs out silicone for broccoli seed oil as its key ingredient. The shop's name, Florette, is partially intended as a reference to broccoli florets.

Baedeker says that her business philosophy is to put kindness above all else: to the earth, to the people she works with, as well as to the neighborhood. She says she wants to create work-life balance for her stylists, and take urgency away as much as possible.

The mother of an eight-year-old boy, Baedeker said that one of her goals is to have a charity supporting single mothers attached to her product line.

Florette also offers a small assortment of beauty products, jewelry and vintage clothing, sourced from local thrift stores or the Treasure Island flea market.

The store's focus will be on local designers and women-owned businesses. Baedeker hopes to discover some new designers during the upcoming West Coast Craft fair.

The business also has a charitable component, hosting workshops on Friday nights that double as a platform for artists to raise funds for their preferred causes. For example, a recent gathering dedicated to lipstick and self-defense collected donations for Planned Parenthood.

Florette offers appointments Tuesday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.; it's closed Sundays. On Mondays, stylist Dionne Stevens works at the salon by appointment only. Appointments can be booked online.

Learn how to style pants for the colder months

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  1. Learn how to style pants for the colder months
  2. Robotic pants offer hope for mobility  WKRG News 5Full coverage

Buying wedding dresses online: More brides are leaving physical stores at the altar

As a bride to be, Mary Thornally was dreading the experience of shopping for a wedding dress and, ultimately, paying an exorbitant price. “...