Why Bridal Market?
In an age where conceivably, a retailer COULD buy new inventory via the Internet from designers, it seems a waste of time and money to fly to New York every six months.
People ask: Why do you do that?
The travel part is indeed a bear. I hate it. I mean, hate it. But once there, the experience becomes a therapeutic lift up.
Going to NYC, the nation’s fashion epi-center, is an opportunity to think larger than I do every day in the store. It gives me new ideas for display. It nurtures relationships with long time designers with face time and it gives me a chance to explore new sources I didn’t know existed.
The market experience has changed over the years to be less “buzz” though and very “lets sit down and get acquainted.” Fifteen years ago all the fashion houses were within a two block area known as the Fashion District. I could make appointments in the same building one right after the other and never need a cab or a coat.
Nowadays, what with rising rents, the designers are “showing” all over the city. Some are in nice hotels such as Plaza Athena, The InterContinental, The London Hotel and the Hilton. The less established/expensive new kids on the block rent booths at The Pier. (The Pier to me is a miserable pipe and drape hellish trade show, but a necessary evil.)
The former is a quite retreat with fresh flowers, champagne and a butler attending me in quiet hope that I’ll “leave paper.” That is code for “an order.”
In the early years, I believed the pitch of every showroom rep i.e. “This dress is on everyone’s order.” “This is a bread and butter dress.” “It is our highest ranking re-order dress from last season. You must have one for your inventory.”
Now, I don’t take chances. Every single gown that comes into my store, I select personally. I can imagine exactly what kind of bride will look best in that dress i.e. age, body, venue, budget and taste.
I used to believe that every newbie stood a chance. Not any longer. Most of the pop ups, shut down in two years. I do business with designers that are well established and have a long track record of good delivery.
As a result, I am the only bridal store I know that can say, “We have never missed a wedding.”
The relationship I have with this New York crowd is so genuine that they jump through hoops for us/our brides.
The side bar benefit is seeing old friends who own other high-end salons all over the country as we gather for fashion shows. There are cocktail parties hosted by The Knot and Martha Stewart magazines and customer appreciation dinners with designers. It is all a whirlwind but fun.
As I fly back home, it is with excitement to jumping back in to running Nolte’s Bridal.
We have some really cool things to share with you in the next few months. Stay tuned. This buying trip is bringing home lots of polished Big Apples!