Weddings are the single event when a woman will spare no expense when it comes to getting what she wants. Brides indulge in lavish gowns, luscious flowers, jewels, shoes, and hair. Costs can spiral out of control, but with the mind set that you only get married once, they charge ahead on their spending frenzy. I did this myself when I married almost seven years ago spending $5000 on a haute couture Angel Sanchez gown, $350 on an embroidered veil, $900 on a pair of limited edition Manolo Blahnik shoes, $500 for hair extensions (don’t ask)….you can see where this is going. I got married during a time when the economy was stable, the Internet bubble was still full and Manhattan professionals were on spending spree’s. But what about the brides who are planning their weddings right now, during what might be our worst economic crisis? Many are faced with job loss, limited budgets and businesses that are closing. How can they still get the extraordinary experience they deserve?
Bridal divisions have become more important than ever now to fashion labels who hope this division will make up for declining clothing, handbag and shoe sales. In order to be certain these garments sell, some labels are slashing prices significantly. This includes bridal gown queen Vera Wang, who cut prices by 40 to 50 percent. This year, her dresses start at retail at $3,600 compared to $5,500 last year. Wang told WWD that retailers’ jaws dropped when they learned of the cuts….and then they wrote orders. Monique Lhuillier’s new bridesmaid line, which will be sold exclusively on her website, retails for the surprisingly low price of $250 to $390. Don’t forget Badgley Mischka bridesmaids, which I wore in my sisters wedding last summer. My dress, purchased at Bloomingdales, was $300 and absolutely stunning. I’ve re-worn it to other weddings since the timeless, classic-style dress fits formal occasions.
But recession or not, reports are showing that brides aren’t skimping on what they consider the most important dress purchase they will ever make. Vera Wang’s top-selling bridal gown styles retail from $8,500 to $13,900. This is not to say brides aren’t cutting back on their weddings because while they continue to splurge on the dream dress they are inviting fewer people.
Back in the fall, the Wall Street Journal reported that luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton was cutting prices by 4% for the first time in history. The move, which currently affects only the Asian market, was in an effort to drive business and keep customers buying. It was almost like they were correcting the inflated prices we’ve seen as of late. The Wall Street Journal later reported that other luxury brands were following suit by slashing prices and hoping to stimulate buyers into splurging.
For the first time, luxury-goods makers are cutting prices on designer apparel, shoes and handbags in the U.S. market. As we dive deeper into the recession, reports that people who are unaffected by the economic crisis have been hesitant to spend on luxury goods due to the appearance of such extravagance during tight times. Trying to lure shoppers into stores, companies such as Chanel, Versace, and Christian Louboutin are instituting cuts ranging from 8% to 10%. By doing so, the European fashion houses will entice shoppers and still maintain healthy profit margins because the value of the dollar has increased against the euro. The move to cut prices began with Chanel as the French fashion house decided to trim prices by 7% to 10% on most items. Brands such as Hermès, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton make their products in Europe, paying for their materials and labor in euros so the strengthening of the dollar means these companies are earning more than they had budgeted on every handbag or piece of clothing sold in dollars.
Although this is great news, don’t expect to see Chanel handbags for $500 or Louis Vuitton shoes for $150. Luxury-goods brands are going to be careful when cutting prices in order to maintain the perception of the labels exclusivity because if the prices fall too much, making the item attainable for the mass market, the allure of the brand is gone.
So if you can afford it, and have been eyeing an investment piece such as a handbag or fabulous jacket, now is the time.