Looking at the past decade of bridal style, there have been drastic changes within a traditionally straightforward industry. For starters, look to the influence of social media, particularly Instagram, which has shaped shopping habits through the direct lines of communication to influencers and brands. You can also attribute it to a shift in how weddings are planned in 2019: According to a WeddingWire report, 80 percent of engaged couples are digital-first when it comes to the task. Also perhaps credit the widespread popularity of Say Yes To The Dress, the groundbreaking reality TV show that's been allowing a mass audience to be privy to the intimate task of choosing a wedding dress since its debut in 2007. All this is to say, these shifts made way for some very exciting new and innovative bridal designers to enter the conversation and shake up an industry steeped in tradition.
The most inspiring part about younger names in wedding dress fashion is how diverse their audiences can be. It ranges from women who want a unique, bespoke experience to anyone with access to brands like H&M, Reformation, and Torrid — each of which have expanded their ranges to include wedding-day designs. To better understand how some of the most unique leaders in this space are shaping bridal style and offering options beyond tired industry clichés, below they shared their perspectives. If their fresh approaches to celebrating love and individuality don't win you over, their uniquely romantic designs will.
As CEO and creative director Carly Cushnie explains it, the Cushnie bridal collection — now in its second season — is a natural extension from the main line. Much like the NYC-based brand is a favorite among women who thrive at work and at play, the bridal pieces have a similar vibe. “For years I’ve had women coming to me asking for various Cushnie ready-to-wear pieces to be made in white for their wedding day, so I set out with the mission to fulfill what I saw as a need in the market for sleek, minimal pieces that are both feminine and sexy,” says the designer.
Cushnie's vision of wedding style includes elegant, simplistic cuts and sophisticated suiting for those who prefer to channel Bianca Jagger rather than a princess. “The goal should always be to find a dress that feels special, appropriate for the type of wedding you're having and doesn't overpower you,” Cushnie advises to those in the market for a wedding dress. “You want to look back in years to come and still love it, and remember how you felt and looked like your best yourself.”
Like other modern bridal brands, Floravere takes a no-rules approach to wedding day style. But this time, the brand also is going direct to consumer, pricing everything under $3000, and offering a size range that spans from 0 to 30. “Social media is driving an unprecedented pace of change and evolution in how brides approach and shop for their weddings,” says Denise Jin, who cofounded the brand with Molly Kang. “The sentiment that the industry can tell brides what they should want no longer holds true.”
This said, the designs — available online and in the brand’s just-open ecommerce space in Tribeca — span both traditional and outside-the-box aesthetics. “The Dreamers Collection,” says Jin of the newest pieces, “is inspired by legendary female visionaries who dared to tell their own stories through artistic mediums. From the pearl-encrusted sleeves of the S. Earle gown to the dreamy flocked-dot tulle and asymmetrical hem of the A. Lovelace dress, it's as surprising and powerful as the women who inspired it.”
“The modern bride who is getting married in 2019 is equal parts strong and feminine. She loves herself AND her partner,” says Sarah Abbasi, founder of Sahroo, a line that debuted at Bridal Fashion Week in New York this past season. Inspired by the popularity of matching sets worn in her native Pakistan, Abbasi’s take on wedding style is one that appeals to a modern bride’s desire for versatility, she tells us.
“This is the number one thing we are hearing from our brides. They are excited to mix and match a few of our pieces resulting in many looks for their bridal year (it can literally be a full year of celebrations now, from engagement parties to rehearsal dinners to wedding brunches), “ she says. “Plus, we see them aiming to extend the life of their garments post-wedding — thinking of how they can wear our blazers to the boardroom, caftans on the beach, our shorts for more casual wear, etc.”
In her first collection, this idea translated to some of the most playful and sleekest sets of trousers paired with cropped tops, as well as dresses and robes layered over pants — some minimal and some bedecked in ornate crystals and feathers. “What it means to be a bride, and how we choose to celebrate weddings is evolving,” Abbasi says, “and we must remain nimble and adapt to women's needs as they change.”
In regard to selecting a wedding look, Meredith Stoecklein says, “It’s so easy to get caught up in what other people think you should be doing.” However, the founder and designer of New York-based Lein is taking a unique approach in the market, specifically when it comes to how she’s working alongside brides-to-be. “They definitely care about craftsmanship and quality, but I think they are also looking for that special experience of working closely with a designer,” Stoecklein explains. “We can customize any piece from the collections, so it’s also a really special experience meeting with brides and finding what makes them feel so connected to the dress they choose.”
With designs suited for grand affairs or a trip to City Hall, Lein’s collection is adaptable depending on the bride, all to ensure that the finished product speaks directly to the woman who’s wearing it. “I’m always so happy to see a bride come in and select a dress that makes her feel most like herself – sometimes that means foregoing the traditional train or the true gown that most expect to see a bride walk down the aisle in,” adds Stoecklein.
For this designer, her approach to standing out in the bridal market today is all about staying steadfast to her vision: “It’s important to filter out other’s advice and stay true to the reasons you started your brand,” she says, adding, “Ironically, this is also my advice for brides-to-be: Everyone has their own opinion on what you should wear on your wedding day. Pick a dress that makes you feel most comfortable and most like yourself so you can live in the moment during your wedding.”