H&M in, Gap out of wedding dress business
The Gap announced earlier this month that it will close its only wedding line, Weddington Way. The news arrived about a week after H&M launched its first online wedding shop.
Weddington Way sells bridesmaid dresses and wedding party gifts. According to its website, the company launched in 2011 “with the goal of transforming an outdated and stressful bridesmaid dress shopping experience and making it enjoyable again for brides and bridesmaids alike.”
The digital-first focus supported coordination across geographically dispersed bridal parties. Gap acquired the business in 2016.
In mid-April, Weddington Way said it would only fulfill orders through June 11 and was in the process of closing the brand’s in-store shops within Banana Republic.
“While the business is performing well, we determined that Weddington Way would not scale in an impactful way for Gap Inc.,” a Gap spokesman told Women’s Wear Daily.
The collapse of Alfred Angelo last July underscored the challenges facing the wedding industry as marriage rates having fallen sharply since the mid 1980s. Many couples are not choosing to get married until they reach their thirties and forties. J. Crew shuttered its wedding business in 2016 after six years.
According to a study from The Knot, the average cost of a bridal gown is $1,509, the average bridesmaid gown is $145, and the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. reached $35,329 in 2016, an all-time high. Traditional bridal house including Alfred Angelo and David’s Bridal, are being hurt, however, by the “casualization” of both gowns and bridesmaid dresses as brides make less formal, less costly choices.
The opportunity to sell more affordable ready-to-wear dresses for wedding occasions has led to heightened competition from Nordstrom, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s in the department store space, Urban Outfitters with its BHLDN concept, and now H&M. H&M’s traditional long white dresses start at $129, with bridesmaid dresses starting at $59.99.
Wrote Jeanette Settembre for Moneyish, “Designers creating cheaper bridal lines are likely nodding to the millennial trend of minimalism, and their tendency to spend more money on experiences than on tangible items.”
- Gap Shutting Down Wedding Line Weddington Way – Women’s Wear Daily
- Gap Follows J. Crew in Giving Up on the Bridal-Wear Industry – Bloomberg
- Weddington Way
- Weddington Way Joins Gap Inc. – Gap Inc.
- Bridal industry disrupted as marriage rates fall – Detroit News
- Urban Outfitters Will Launch Bhldn Wedding eCommerce on Monday – Racked.com
- H&M Has Officially Launched Its Wedding Shop – The Knot
- The Wedding Shop – H&M
- H&M’s new bridal collection has arrived — and other retailers with more affordable lines – Moneyish
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are Millennials recasting the retail opportunity for wedding dresses and gifts? Where do you see the biggest pain points that retailers could address in helping couples get set for their big day?