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Focus on hats
and fascinators                      Window Dressing
                                               Steps to success
Prom Wear
Your essential guide

BRIDAL                              Best Foot Forward
                                       Stunning bridal shoes
Fabulous fishtail
wedding gowns                  BBEH REVIEW
   Industry News
   Bridal Trends
   Retailer Interview
Wholesalers and importers of tiaras, bridal hair accessories, occasion hats,



          7    Industry News
               Keep up-to-date with all the latest news
               from the bridal industry in our regular

          38   Growing your Business
               Business Link Adviser, Peter Mulhall,
               reveals how to build upon your
               existing offering to consumers
                                                          33    ‘Devine’ Inspiration
                                                                We talk to mother and daughter team,
          54   Q&A Special
                                                                Joy and Liz Devine-Wright about their
               Jane Watson and Steve Kirkham answer
                                                                hat and accessory boutique
               your retail queries

                                                          40    Classic Couture
          57   Get Connected
                                                                We speak to Jonathan James to find out
               Abigail Neill discusses the importance
                                                                how his influential bridal brand,
               of a good website
                                                                launched just three years ago, has firmly
61        58   Retailer Interview                               established itself in the market
               We speak to Sarah Penrose about her
                                                          42    Window Dressing
     30        unique vintage bridal studio
                                                                Retailers offer their top tips on creating
          67   Clear Communication                              eye-catching window displays
               Building good relationships with your
               staff, suppliers and customers has never    45    Bridal Trends
               been as important as at this moment in           Gorgeous fishtail gowns to tempt your
               time. Jane Watson reveals why…                   brides-to-be

          74   Up and Coming                              53    Insurance Heath Check
               Rosie Fox talks to Attire Bridal about           Expert advice from industry experts,
               her fledgling jewellery company                   TH March

                                                          61    Heart and Sole
                                                                Leading bridal footwear suppliers
          Features                                              talk trends

          20   The Power of Prom                          64    UK Bound
               We take a look at the phenomenal                 We speak to Canadian bridal designer,
               growth in the prom wear market                   Lea-ann Belter, to find out why her
                                                                bridal gowns suit the British market
          26   Bright and Beautiful
               Focus on fabulous prom fashions            Shows
          30   Ahead of the Game                          16    BBEH Review
               Enhance your in-store offering with a             We find out how visitors and exhibitors
               selection of bridal hats                         fared at this top trade show

                                                                                               ATTIRE 3

        MAY/JUNE 2009

ATTIRE                                   Bridal
                                                                                                                          Cover image courtesy of

                                         Dance Fever
GROUP EDITOR                                                                                                              Ronald Joyce
Demelza Rayner
+44 (0)1376 535 609                                                                                                       Industry News Page 7                                                                                                   BBEH Review Page 16
                                                                                                                          Prom Wear Page 20
CONTRIBUTORS                                                                                                              Bridal Hats Page 30
Danielle Harvey                                                   Welcome to our May/June issue, which is packed
+44 (0)1376 535 611                                        full of features to help you grow your business.
Jennifer Kettle                                                     If there’s one market that shows great potential
+44 (0)1376 535 613                                        for growth, it has to be prom. Here in the UK we’ve
SALES MANAGER                                                     hosted school leaving dances for years, but it’s
Mark White
+44 (0)1376 514 000                                               only recently that we’ve caught onto the glamour
                                                                  of the equivalent American event. Rather than
David Jenkins
                                                                  heading to their nearest fashion store, girls are now
+44 (0)1376 535 612
                                         seeking gowns more akin to bridal attire, and demanding accessories,
                                         hairstyles and professional make-up applications to match.
                                                                                                                                         Average Net
Vicky O’Connor                             We speak to some leading prom suppliers to find out about this year’s                          Circulation: 2,655
+44 (0)1376 535 616
                                                                                                                                         (01/07/08 to 30/09/08)                  top trends, how they see the market developing and how bridal retailers
GRAPHIC DESIGNERS                        can benefit by diversifying into the sector.
Sarah Barnes
Sophie Farage                              Also in this issue, our experts are on hand with their top business tips:
Laura Perry
Steve McKea                              Business Link Adviser, Peter Mulhall, reveals how you can build upon your
+44 (0)1376 535 616
                                         existing offering to consumers, even in the current climate; Jane Watson
Stuart Weatherley                        demonstrates some effective ways of building good relationships with
+44 (0)1376 535 616
                                         your staff, suppliers and customers; Abigail Neill goes online to show the
Scott Brothwell                          importance of developing a user-friendly website for your customers.
+44 (0)1376 514 000
                                           One of the easiest ways of attracting new customers into your
Kline Davis Limited                      showrooms is by regularly updating your window display. We speak to two
Broseley House
Newlands Drive                           bridal retailers to find out their tricks of the trade, and these can easily be
Witham, Essex CM8 2UL                     adapted for any window space or location.
Staff photographs courtesy of              Finally, don’t miss our review of the recent British Bridal Exhibition in
Ian Scott Photography
Tel: 01707 263 844
                                         Harrogate on page 16. Retailers and visitors tell us how they fared at this
                                         top trade show.
ISSN 1758-0072

Attire Bridal is solely owned,
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in this magazine was correct at the
time of going to press, the publishers
cannot accept legal responsibility
for any errors or omissions, nor
can they accept responsibility of
the standing of advertisers nor by
                                         Demelza Rayner
the editorial contributions. The
views expressed do not necessarily
                                         Group Editor
reflect those of the publisher. Attire
Bridal is published six times a year.
Subscription rates for overseas
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Attire Bridal @ Broseley House,
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CM8 2UL.
                                                                                                                                            ATTIRE 5
                                                                                                                  News & Events

Read on for the latest information on the bridal industry’s movers and shakers…

                 New bridal jewellery

                 from Rob Morris                                                     NAME CHANGE FOR
                  The Love iS silver heart                                           JEWELLERY FIRM
                  collection by Rob Morris
                  has been created as a                                              As of April 6th, 2009, Dichrolicious Ltd is officially
                  range for bridesmaid gifts                                         changing its name to Vizati Ltd. The company began in
                  and consists of solid,                                             2004/5, manufacturing only dichroic glass and the name
                  beautifully finished and very                                       reflected its product offering. However, over the past
                  tactile pieces.                                                    two years the firm has diversified to the point where the
                    The high quality of                                              product offering now encompasses precious stones, such
                  workmanship in this                                                as diamonds, emeralds, tanzanites and opals set in very
                  collection affirms the 20                                           different organic, textured designs, in addition to dichroic
                  years of designing and
                                                                                     glass and many semi-precious stones. The company name
                  hand-making jewellery for galleries and retail outlets
                  throughout UK, often to commission.                                is the only thing that is changing…the staff, the responsive
                    For further information visit the website at                     customer service and the unique products are all the
                                           same. For further details telephone +44 (0)1323 485 605.

                  Bright future for G&S Designs
                  After taking on G&S Designs as sole director at the beginning of this year, Sally Clayton has been busy
                  transforming the company and has already made many changes. Sally has decided she wants to bring
                  the company up to date by amending company procedures and improving the day to day running of the
                  business which has proved to make the company more cost effective and has also improved staff moral.
                     “The first thing Sally did was to have a complete overhaul of the range of products we are now going
                  to supply,” says Ben Dame. “She has discontinued all the slower lines and we are going to replace them
                  with a complete new collection in the summer.”
                     Sally has also slashed the prices by up to 80% on over 200 discontinued lines and has already had a fantastic response from
                  customers. Sally feels it was the right time in the current economic climate to start the reductions as it has helped so many shops
                  to raise some much needed funds by having sales with the products that have been reduced as there is a massive profit margin to
                  be earned.
                     Adds Ben: “Sally also has big ideas for the future and says that customers are going to be seeing a lot of changes in the coming
                  months. Loyalty cards will be available to selected customers, and we also have many more changes so watch this space!”
                     For further details visit

                                                                                                                                           ATTIRE 7
 Four North West retail experts have joined together to create a task force called
 Retail Performance Improvement (RPI) to help retailers survive the current
 economic downturn.
    The task force, made-up of Ian Parsons, Ray Carroll, Graham Hoyle
 and Tony Woods, has over 100 years combined retail experience. The group
 will offer struggling retailers pragmatic solutions to deliver an immediate
 improvement and return on investment. Advice will be offered on product
 development, negotiation, buying, retail management, retail operations,
 consumer marketing and sales promotion.
    Ian Parsons, the chairman of RPI, said: “In 2009 UK retailers are facing
 their biggest challenge ever. We can offer retail professionals at all levels the
 benefit of our combined retail experience.
 “Rather than churning out reports we’re offering hands-on advice and
 practical tips. We have real experience in helping companies deliver their
 products to consumers, in the right retail arena and with a hands-on,
 inclusive management style.”
    For more information visit

  G&S Designs launches

  new online store
                                                                                      Due to a print error in last issue’s bridesmaid
                                                                                      fashion feature, this pretty gown was
                                                                                      incorrectly credited. It is available from
                                                                                      Romantica on +44 (0)8707 701 024.
                                                                                      Alternatively, visit the informative website at

                                                                                     Bridal jewellery from
                                                                                     TigerLily Trading
                                                                                     After successfully
                                                                                     trialling their
                                                                                     white pearl
                                                                                     and Swarovski
                                                                                     crystal jewellery
                                                                                     as a bridal range,
 Last month, the brand new online store from G&S Designs                             TigerLily Trading
 launched to a terrific response from customers. The website itself                   has officially
 has been given a new look and feel and is very user friendly, with                  launched its first
 a fully functioning online store to improve customer service.                       bridal collection.
    “One improvement to ordering is the Fascinators,” says Ben                          Designs range
 Dame. “Customers can choose their wire colour, their feather                        from single flower
 colour and also a second ‘two tone’ colour from drop down boxes
                                                                                     choker style necklaces to elaborate works of art and
 which enables them to create their own fascinators with ease.”
                                                                                     each piece of jewellery is handmade.
    He continues: “We have also added a bestsellers list which is
 automatically generated from website sales so when a customer                          Trade prices start at £6.36 with a typical price
 clicks on to a category they can see the bestselling lines in that                  for a necklace or bracelet at £14.47.
 category to help them when choosing samples.”                                          The designs are also available in different semi-
    Customers who have used the old site will need to make a new                     precious stones such as rose quartz, green fluorite
 account on the new one which is quick and simple to do, they just                   and citrine so perfect for alternative gowns and
 need to enter their contact details and delivery details on a form                  other members of the bridal party.
 then their account must be manually approved by the team in the                        For more information, please email janna@
 office before they can view wholesale prices or order. For further
                                                                            or visit the website at
 details, visit

                                                                                                      News & Events

Anna Mcdonald bridal Gallery travels back in time

Anna McDonald opened the Bridal Gallery in
Thame in July 2008 selling beautiful wedding dresses
from designers including Justin Alexander, Sophia
Tolli and Alfred Sung. As the latest retailer to open
in Thame it was fitting for Anna to be asked to
open the Bridal Exhibition at the Thame museum
earlier this year. The display shows the history of
bridal gowns with some of Thame’s residents kindly
donating their precious gowns for the four month
exhibition period. The gowns date from the 1920s
through to the late 1980s.
   Accompanied by the Deputy Mayor, Jeanette
Matelot, Anna was delighted to be invited to cut
the ribbon on the innovative and rare display.
Commenting on the opening Anna said: “It was a
pleasure to meet some of Thame’s residents who have
helped volunteer their time and effort producing a
display that brings the history of the bridal market
to the public for free.”

 Credit is King
 Joe Sweeney of the British Bridalwear Association advises retailers on credit.
    The British Bridalwear Association (BBA) has programmed another year of operating its own Credit Check System after a
 very successful first 12 months of collating payments from Bridal Retailers to their BBA Suppliers.
    The System logs all payments due from retailers that are more than 90 days old. If just one BBA supplier is involved, then it is
 referred to as a Single Hit. However, if more than one BBA supplier is affected then it is called a Multiple Hit. According to the
 number of Multiple Hits relating to a single retailer, credit facilities are usually withdrawn and Proforma becomes the only way to
 continue trading with BBA Suppliers.
    Sometimes there are local circumstances that affect the issue and these are taken into account. For example, a major employer
 in the town may have fallen on hard times and therefore cashflow in the area becomes a problem. Often weddings are delayed and
 suppliers will take this into account if possible. After all, suppliers will wish to continue trading with retail clients as long as they
 possibly can.
    Suppliers are not bankers and they need good cashflow like all companies so they cannot afford to trade beyond their terms and
 conditions of sale.
    As always, if bridal retailers have a potential problem, they should communicate with their suppliers and normally help can
 be given. If it comes as a surprise that a client is taking an extraordinary length of time to pay bills, then it may be too late to
 offer any help. It is highly likely that if a client is overdue with bridal suppliers then the same is no doubt true with regard to
 preferential creditors such as Customs & Excise, PAYE, Banks, Inland Revenue and sometimes Landlords. Sums outstanding to
 such preferentials are usually quite large and they are not known as very ‘forgiving creditors’. They will enforce the position using
 the full strength of the Law.
    It is important for retailers to remember that if they are not trading as a Limited Company then their personal assets are at
 stake including domestic homes etc. In the case of Limited Companies the Directors home addresses are on file at Companies
 House so there is no escape.
    The moral is that in case of difficulty retailers should communicate with all their Suppliers before it gets to the stage of such
 things as County Court Judgments which can destroy Credit reputation.
    Credit these days is so important. Treat it well and it will help but treat it badly and it will bite hard.

                                                                                                                               ATTIRE 11
 Little Eglantine
 launches luxury
 pink and purple
 flower girl dress
 Stephanie Staub, a renowned
 French designer for couture
 flower girl dresses and
 bespoke page boy outfits, has
 recently released her new                                                               UK DISTRIBUTOR
 exclusive Isobel flower girl
 dress to retailers.
                                                                                         ANNOUNCED FOR
    Answering her clients’ wish                                                          SOPHIE SPOSA JEWELS
 to have sophisticated flower
 girl dresses in purple and pink                                                         Sophie Sposa
 tones, the designer searched                                                            jewels are
 the world for a unique ivory                                                            specifically
 taffeta embroidered with                                                                 designed to
 purple and pink flowers.                                                                 provide the ultimate
    “With this fabric, I wanted                                                          bridal accessory,
 to design a dress that would                                                            and are now to
 be very feminine and light,                                                             be distributed
 with ruffled sleeves. It gives a                                                          in the UK by
 note of fantasy to the garment                                                          Paradox London.
 and yet the dress remains                                                                  Each exquisite piece is designed by Italian
 very stylish. And as adult                                                              craftsmen and made in several studios
 bridesmaids often wear pink or                                                          across the world. Every season the team
 purple dresses, this little dress                                                       follows current trends offering the most up-
 can perfectly compliment the                                                            to-date composition of styles, materials and
 adult’s one.” The Isobel flower                                                          colours. Products are hand made from the
 girl dress is made-to-measure                                                           highest quality materials, including Swarovski
 and starts from £220 in an                                                              crystals and fresh water pearls. Furthermore,
 embroidered silk taffeta.                                                                each item is presented in a unique and
 For details visit the website at                                                        exceptional box in order to provide that                                                                 distinctive difference to brides.

 Name change for Eva Jordan

                                     Following the sale of Eva Jordan and Samantha Jane
                                     Bridesmaids to Clare Wilson, the two labels are to be promoted
                                     under new names. With immediate effect, Eva Jordan will
                                     be changing its name to Anellà Couture, while Samantha
                                     Jane Bridesmaids and Proms will be changing to Honour
                                     Bridesmaids Collection.
                                        “We decided to change the name of the company as the new
                                     designs are very fresh and up to date and we feel, in order for
                                     the company to move forward and grow, we really need a
                                     fresh approach with both design and the presentation of the
                                     company,” says Clare. “We have now taken on an agent who is
                                     working very closely with us, not only in the relaunch, but also
                                     to ensure all our existing customers, and new ones as they come
                                     along, get exactly what is expected from a supplier.
                                        Clare also sheds some light on the origin of the name for the new bridal collection: “It was created
                                     from my daughters’ names, Megan and Ella and, as funny as it may sound, it has always been a
                                     naughty fairy in our house when the girls were younger; we are now hoping it will be a magical
                                     fairy!” For further details, call +44 (0)1954 263 030.

                                                                        JO CHRISTOFORIDES
                                                                        RETURNS TO WELLS
                                                                        Jo Christoforides, the West Country based fashion designer
                                                                        has returned to Wells, the city where she first established
                                                                        her couture bridal gown label over 20 years ago. The new
                                                                        shop, dramatic in style, is Jo’s sixth move since the launch
                                                                        of her business in 1987 and can rightly be viewed as a true
                                                                        homecoming! It opened at 74 High Street on the 9th April just
                                                                        in time for Easter. To find out more, visit the website at

  Fresh from Balagan are these stunning cufflinks, fashioned from
  stainless steel or sterling silver. All jewellery comes packaged in
  the signature chunky black boxes with a care card that shows
  how best to care for the jewellery. For wholesale orders, visit

The Goldsmiths’
Craftsmanship & Design

                                                                        The power of online
Awards entered its
second century with
International Jewellery

London (IJL) presenting
a special award in Fine
Jewellery. In her first
year as a member of the
                                                                        Reaching your target market and creating a feeling
Goldsmith’ Craft and Design Council, Syreeta Tranfield, Event
                                                                        of confidence and desire, are two crucial aspects of all
Manager of IJL, presented the award.
                                                                        successful marketing campaigns. Information hungry bridal
   The Gold & IJL Special Award winner, David McCaul of
                                                                        couples spend hours online searching for information,
the London Metropolitan University, produced three stunning
                                                                        inspiration and the perfect suppliers. Companies choosing
and innovative 18ct gold and diamond rings. The rings were
                                                                        to overlook the power of online marketing may simply
beautifully crafted, unique in style and shape and represented
                                                                        not be found by the consumer. It can be difficult to stand
the high standard of entries this year, reflecting the timeless
                                                                        out from the crowd, when you are one of many companies
fashion this category is designed to commend. The Gold & GIA
                                                                        offering a similar product or service. Until now....
Winner in the IJL Special Award category was Ornella Iannuzzi,
                                                                           Fairytale Wedding Company has launched an easy to
who is self-employed and created a silver, iron pyrites and gold
                                                                        use and attractive website, offering a wide range of online
leaf ‘Cubic Crystallization’ ring.
                                                                        wedding services. The many facilities include: an extensive
   The Goldsmiths’ Craft and Design Council was founded
                                                                        directory of suppliers, wedding websites, interactive
in 1908 and still carries forward its original remit to
                                                                        planning and budgeting tools, social networking, advice
encourage, stimulate and promote the pursuit of excellence
                                                                        and tips and the latest fashions and trends. Extensive
in craftsmanship and design amongst all those engaged in
                                                                        research and being driven by the needs of the bridal
silversmithing, goldsmithing, jewellery and allied crafts in the UK.
                                                                        couple, has inspired them to create a unique concept
Guests at this year’s ceremony included well known designers
                                                                        in online marketing. The versatility and individuality
and industry figures such as Stephen Webster, who is also a
                                                                        of the Showcases makes them perfectly suited to meet
Council member.
                                                                        the needs of any wedding industry trade. Vicky Lord,
 Syreeta Tranfield, of IJL, commented; “I am extremely honoured
                                                                        the co-founder of
to have been appointed as a member of the prestigious
                                                                        offers the following advice: “Capturing the hearts and
Goldsmiths’ Craft & Design Council and we were delighted
                                                                        imaginations of prospective bridal couples, is absolutely
at the exceptional standard of entries this year. British design
                                                                        vital when appealing to their emotional buying behaviour.
is going from strength to strength and it is excellent to see
                                                                        Our Unique Fairytale Showcases inject personality and
designers creating such innovative and stylish fine jewellery. We
                                                                        inspiration into your marketing, by bringing your company
very much look forward to unveiling the winning pieces at IJL
                                                                        to life on the internet”. For further details please visit the
2009 this September.”
                                                                        website at or email
   For more information about International Jewellery London

Standing FIRM
We take a look back at the recent British Bridal Exhibition in
Harrogate (BBEH) to find out how visitors and exhibitors fared…
The latest BBEH took place from March 8th-10th        a strict schedule to follow and the pre-planning
2009, attracting bridal retailers from all over the   paid off as we managed to cram in quite a
UK to network, place orders and to view new           lot. From my existing designers I brought a
additions to existing collections. As ever, stands    few ‘gap fillers’ and we particularly loved the
were distributed through the main exhibition          new season’s Alfred Angelo collection. We
halls and surrounding hotels, including The           considered four new labels with a view to taking
Majestic, St George, Old Swan and White Hart.         on just one and the decision was made easy
In addition, bridal fashion shows took place          as Divina Sposa by The Group completely stole
two or three times a day to showcase the latest       the show for us; their dresses are absolutely
bridalwear, formalwear and accessories.               gorgeous, their stand and hospitality was
   Award-winning retailer and Attire Bridal           second to none and we are really excited about
columnist, Abigail Neill, regularly attends the       their stunning gowns.”
British Bridal Exhibition to find new ways of             Another retailer attending the exhibition was
enhancing her bridalwear offering, and to take        Ellie Sanderson, who runs a successful bridal
advantage of the networking opportunities the         boutique in Buckinghamshire. Speaking about
show affords: “I visited BBEH for two days with       the trade show, she says: “We had a great time
two of my sales girls to enjoy a little buying and    at Harrogate. Although it felt a little quieter than
dancing at the BIS disco,” she says. “We had          last March, it was not short on the ‘X’ Factor.

                                                                                                                        BBEH Review

The fashion show, as ever, was fabulous; Lusan
Mandongus stole the show for me with some
beautifully styled and cut gowns.”
   She adds: “We also found some great new
jewellery designers: SWOON of London has
a real vintage look and feel to their pieces
and, as ever, MALLIS HENDERSON, Atlantic
Bridal group had some terrific, stylish and
funky pieces. I totally loved their fifties-inspired
birdcage hair combs, which will look wonderful
with our 1950s styled gowns.”

“Divina Sposa by The Group
completely stole the show for
us; their dresses are absolutely
gorgeous, their stand and
hospitality was second to none
and we are really excited about
their stunning gowns.”

   One of the main reasons retailers attend
the BBEH is to keep track of the latest bridal        rest. Ellie Sanderson says: “The one that stole
trends. Commenting on her findings at the              the show for me was Lusan Mandongus; their          “Offering a consultancy service
spring event, Ellie says: “March 2009 saw all         collection has lots of soft chiffon skirts, some    for the industry, I was more
designers offering more gowns with straps,            amazing full skirted gowns with fitted bodices       than pleased with visitors to my
thank the lord; we have so very many requests         and the most incredible double lace fish tail        stand. There were ample visitors
for straps and halter necks at the moment             gowns, the under lace being beaded and the          thinking about setting up a bridal
with girls fed up with the straight across look.      outer lace being plain. It adds a real feeling of   business as well as those wanting
It also saw some key trends like really fitted         texture and movement on the catwalk. They           to re-evaluate their business.”
bodices with fishtail and slinky silhouettes and       had plenty of straps and their gowns also have
a continued look of romance with soft lace and        beautiful internal corsets, definitely one to        before? Jane Watson had this to say: “Offering
some really full skirts.”                             watch – I’m totally loving them.”                   a consultancy service for the industry, I was
   Among the many bridalwear exhibitors, there          As for the exhibitors, how did they fare          more than pleased with visitors to my stand.
are always some that stand out above the              given visitor numbers were down on the year         There were ample visitors thinking about
                                                                                                          setting up a bridal business as well as those
                                                                                                          wanting to re-evaluate their business.” She
                                                                                                          continues: “Those retailers visiting the BBEH
                                                                                                          were quality customers and, considering we
                                                                                                          are in a recession, spirits were high. I always
                                                                                                          think that retailers attending the March and
                                                                                                          September exhibitions are really passionate
                                                                                                          about their business.”
                                                                                                             First time exhibitor, Rosie Fox, Managing
                                                                                                          Director of Fox Jewellery Ltd and Rosie Fox,
                                                                                                          was also thrilled with the response from
                                                                                                          retailers: “It was fabulous to exhibit for the first
                                                                                                          time at the British Bridal Exhibition in Harrogate.
                                                                                                          Seeing the new direction for bridal gowns and
                                                                                                          being able to compliment the dresses with the
                                                                                                          new Rosie Fox jewellery collection was truly
                                                                                                          rewarding.” A

                                                                                                            FURTHER INFORMATION
                                                                                                            The next British Bridal Exhibition in
                                                                                                            Harrogate will take place from 13th-15th
                                                                                                            September 2009. To find out more, visit the
                                                                                                            website at

                                                                                                                                                ATTIRE 17
            DESIGNER OF THE YEAR 2004/2005/2006/2007
      ianstuart-bride. c                     7

The power of

We speak to some leading
suppliers about the phenomenal
growth in the prom wear market

Carl Monk                                               and fit. The fabrics used are also of great quality.
                                                        What would you say the typical spend is for someone
When did you first introduce a prom line?                seeking a prom dress?
We first introduced a prom line in September 2007        The typical spend for a prom gown would be
at the Harrogate bridal fair.                           around the £225 to £250 retail price.

How has demand for prom wear changed over the           What tips would you give to retailers keen to
past couple of years?                                   introduce a prom line?                                  13000
We have seen demand for prom wear over the past         Tips for retailers would be to look into their area’s
couple of years grow bigger and bigger, year on year.   marketplace first for the type of prom wear selling.
                                                        Then look at all suppliers of prom wear on what
How much further growth do you feel there is in the     they offer by quality, fabrics, the fit, size range,
prom market?                                            delivery times and whether they carry stock.
We feel the further growth in the prom wear
market is massive for us as a new label in the          What colours and styles do you feel will be popular
marketplace, and see 100% growth over the next          for the next prom season?
couple of years.                                        Key colours for next season are orange, purple,
                                                        lime, cerise and silver in taffeta or organza/satin.
When would you say the prom season runs from               Key styles are A-line asymmetric draped fronts
and to?                                                 with bead detail and lace up backs. Also big ball
The prom season, for us, runs from January to           gown puff skirt with pull-ups.
July. We also see some of the prom gowns being
used for bridesmaid gowns and also for Christmas        Do you have a favourite prom dress from the new
balls/parties.                                          collection? If so, what is it and why?
                                                        My favourite prom gown from the collection is
What sets your prom range apart from others on          13001 as the organza asymmetric detail with hand
the market?                                             finish bead and lace up back will flatter all types of
The feedback we are getting from the customers is       girls. Also, 13005 the two-tone taffeta, looks great
the gowns are well designed and a superior make         and the cut of the gown gives great shape.

Christine Wilke, Designer,

When did you first introduce a prom line?
We first introduced a prom line in March 2007.

How has demand for prom wear changed over the
past couple of years?
Demand has definitely increased over the past two
years. More schools are having proms, some 5th
form, some 6th form, but also sweet 16 parties. It
seems most schools are now arranging proms for
all leavers, even at 11-years-old before they go to
secondary school.

How much further growth do you feel there is in the
prom market?
There is some room for growth but with the
current climate we think the growth will be slow
until the economy picks up again. There has been
such an increase in prom retailers recently (before
the credit crunch), the growth had to slow down        What tips would you give to retailers keen to
naturally anyway.                                      introduce a prom line?
                                                       Buy stock as girls do not want to order, and buy
When would you say the prom season runs from           a variety of designs as every girl wants to wear
and to?                                                a different dress to her friends. Target all local
The prom season runs between February and June.        schools and have prom nights.

What sets your prom range apart from other             What colours and styles do you feel will be popular
collections on the market?                             for the next prom season?
As it is British designed it is more contemporary      Rich vibrant colours are still popular. We mix
and less “American” looking. We wanted to do           colours and textures together to tone down very
something                                              brash colours. Short styles sell for us - if money is
different from the sparkle and big skirts by creating   tight girls do not want a big dress and will opt for
modern dresses with combinations of funky colours      something more fashionable and edgy.
and fashionable shapes.
                                                       Do you have a favourite prom dress from the new
What would you say the typical spend is for someone    collection? If so, what is it and why?
seeking a prom dress?                                  Style lp243 is a dream dress. Fun, funky and yet
I would say the average spend is somewhere             still feminine. With its fitted ruched bodice it is
between £150 and £200.                                 really flattering.

 Laraine Jones,                                        a dress that really stands out.
                                                       What would you say the typical spend is for someone
 When did you first introduce a prom line?              seeking a prom dress?
 We first introduced a prom line last September.        There’s no set price – it could be anywhere from
                                                       £50 to £500.
 How has demand for prom wear changed over the
 past couple of years?                                 What tips would you give to retailers keen to
 It has grown enormously.                              introduce a prom line?
                                                       If you have a good dress, order it in all the
 How much further growth do you feel there is in       available colours so that if you have a policy not to
 the prom market?                                      let two girls have the same, you don’t lose out on
 I don’t think it has come anywhere near to            sales if they are in different colours.
 reaching its peak.
                                                       What colours and styles do you feel will be popular
 When would you say the prom season runs from          for the next prom season?
 and to?                                               The big tulle skirted dresses will continue to be
 The girls start buying from December right up to      popular, and we have done brilliantly with our
 a week before the prom date.                          glitter tulles.

 What sets your prom range apart from others on        Do you have a favourite prom dress from the new
 the market?                                           collection? If so, what is it and why?
 We think the dresses should be fun, funky and         Yes, we call it the Minnie Mouse dress because it
 fabulous. Each girl wants to outdo the other with     is so dotty and cute.

                                                                                                                  ATTIRE 21

                                            to book an appointment with our
                                            Sales Executive to preview the new
                                            2009 Spring Collection contact:
                                            01823 256012

                                            designed and handmade in England

A stunning collection of stylish brides-
maids, prom and eveningwear.

Dresses in sizes 6-30 wholesale at
£75 to £95, with flowergirls for ages
2-11 from £50.

For a sales appointment contact:
01823 336000

 Stuart Turner,                                                                                       8157                                                8101

 When did you first introduce a prom line?
 Mori Lee Prom has been sold in the UK and Eire
 for over five years.

 How has demand for prom wear changed over the
 past couple of years?
 The demand for prom wear has changed
 significantly with a massive increase in volume.
 Mori Lee Prom will continue to present a
 stunning collection of prom dresses in fresh
 colours, new materials and inspired shapes that
 will make any girl feel fabulous on her special
 prom night.

 How much further growth do you feel there is in
 the prom market?
 It is nearing capacity; what has happened is the
 market has become more refined into price/
 quality brackets and styles such as slinky, full
 skirted, short.

 When would you say the prom season runs from
 and to?
 This depends on the area and event; for example,
 in Eire they are termed ‘Debs’ and take place late
 summer as opposed to the UK which is mainly
 May and June. However, the girls will start
                                                      are very price aware but the typical spend can be       Short dresses inspired by High School Musical
 looking for their prom gown as early as December
                                                      anything between £100 and £400.                         will be more in demand next season. Brighter
 the previous year!
                                                                                                              colours will be the norm next year with some ‘in’
                                                      What tips would you give to retailers keen to           colours making an appearance – lime is a good
 What sets your prom range apart from others on
                                                      introduce a prom line?                                  bet and of course that added sparkle!
 the market?
                                                      Stock as many prom dresses as you can afford
 The quality and depth of range, from traditional
                                                      and sell off the rail. If you can top up later by        Do you have a favourite prom dress from the new
 US high school tulle to slinky sexy styles with a
                                                      consumers’ requests or by the success of sell           collection? If so, what is it and why?
 modern fashion twist.
                                                      through, all well and good.                             It’s difficult to pick one but 8101 in Pink
 What would you say the typical spend is for                                                                  Lemonade is a favourite – it is typical Mori Lee
                                                      What colours and styles do you feel will be popular     with a new twist, we also make a shorter version
 someone seeking a prom dress?
                                                      for the next prom season?                               which is also very popular.
 It is very difficult to say as some girls/mothers

Katia Charalambou,                                    Our customers tell us the prom season starts from
HOUSE OF NICHOLAS                                     January and goes through to July.

When did you first introduce a prom line?              What sets your prom range apart from other
We first introduced a prom line in 2006.               collections on the market?
                                                      Our prom range is great value for money, and we
How has demand for prom wear changed over the         place great emphasis on good customer service.
past couple of years?
Girls in the UK are now looking for more              What tips would you give to retailers keen to
traditional “American Style” prom dresses, although   introduce a prom line?
we still sell a great deal of simpler dresses which   I would advise retailers to look at their own
can be worn again.                                    particular market to ensure, as far as possible, that
                                                      they have the correct styling for their area. It is
How much further growth do you feel there is in the   vital to have a good range of sizes and colours as
prom market?                                          there is such a small window for the season, and for
We believe the market for prom dresses is growing     reordering.
year by year.
                                                      What colours and styles do you feel will be popular
When would you say the prom season runs from          for the next prom season?
and to?                                               In our experience, the vibrant colours always sell
                                                      the best.

                                                                                                                                                      ATTIRE 23
Lyn Musselle, Sales and                               concept and introduce a prom season. Demand
                                                      will be driven by fashion conscious teens, eager to
Marketing Director,                                   impress and out-do each other. You only have to
MAGGIE SOTTERO                                        look to our friends across the pond, where prom
                                                      is an enormous business, commanding stores who
When did you first introduce a prom line?              cater to the marketplace year round.
Flirt prom by Maggie Sottero was introduced into
the marketplace in 2006.                              When would you say the prom season runs from
                                                      and to?
How has demand for prom wear changed over the         May to July, seems to be the most popular months
past couple of years?                                 in the UK at the moment, but it wouldn’t come as a
UK retailers were very tentative when buying prom     big surprise, if in the future we see proms organised
for the first time in 2006; however, the demand        throughout the calendar year.
to stock, and the numbers of prom bought, has
increased dramatically since, with twice the amount    P1344
of stock bought for the 2008-09 season compared
to the previous season.
                                                                                                              What sets your prom range apart from others on
How much further growth do you feel there is in the
                                                                                                              the market?
prom market?
                                                                                                              The choice of fabrics, styles and fit, which is the
Expect to see a huge growth in this market, as
                                                                                                              trademark signature of Maggie Sottero.
more and more schools become familiar with the
                                                                                                              What would you say the typical spend is for someone
                                                                                                              seeking a prom dress?
                                                                                                              Most girls will have a budget in mind when setting
                                                                                                              out to buy their prom gown; however, I think the
                                                                                                              budget becomes a secondary consideration if a
                                                                                                              girl finds her dress and it is slightly more than
                                                                                                              she anticipated. £200 - £250 seems to be a fairly
                                                                                                              typical sum that girls are prepared to spend.

                                                                                                              What tips would you give to retailers keen to
                                                                                                              introduce a prom line?
                                                                                                              Research the subject and find out if schools in
                                                                                                              your area are already holding proms. If not, now’s
                                                                                                              the time to suggest it, you could even ask if it
                                                                                                              would be possible to survey the pupils. If you have
                                                                                                              any teenagers that you can discuss the subject
                                                                                                              with, then do, they will provide an insight into
                                                                                                              everything from ‘what’s trendy to what’s not’.

                                                                                                              What colours and styles do you feel will be popular
                                                                                                              for the next prom season?
                                                                                                              Big tulle ball-gowns seem to have been a favourite
                                                                                                              with retailers for the coming season. The most
                                                                                                              popular colours have been the bright, vibrant,
                                                                                                              pinks, purples, magenta and turquoise.

                                                                                                              Do you have a favourite prom dress from the new
                                                                                                              collection? If so, what is it and why?
                                                                                                              There are so many gowns that I could name, for
                                                                                                              different reasons, but if I had to choose a dress that
                                                                                                              I think epitomises ‘Prom’ it would be style P1344.
                                                                                                              This is a strapless vision in taffeta print bodice and
                                                                                                              tulle skirt, available in moss green/black and plum/
                                                                                                              black. The figure hugging bodice with its ‘V’ cut
                                                                                                              neckline and ball-gown tulle skirt will make every
                                                                                                              girl feel like a princess for the day! A

Bright and                                         Beautiful
                    Tiffany Prom        Capitalise on the growing UK prom market by investing
                +44 (0)8707 707 670
                                        in these gorgeous gowns…

                                                                                Mori Lee Prom
                                                                               +44 (0)1476 541 116

            Full and FABULOUS
                      Froxy Prom
                 +44 (0)1245 425 558

                                        True Bride Prom                     Mark Lesley Prom
                                        +44 (0)1273 728 637                     +44 (0)1621 784 784
Mark Lesley Prom
+44 (0)1621 784 784
                                                 Stevies Gowns London
                                                 +44 (0)20 8803 8084

                                                Sho rt and Sweet

                                 Lou Lou        Froxy Prom                 The House of Nicholas
                        +44 (0)20 8368 1500     +44 (0)1245 425 558        +44 (0)20 8802 1399

                                                                                                  ATTIRE 27
Lou Lou
+44 (0)20 8368 1500

Girly Glamour                      Mori Lee
                                   +44 (0)1476 541 116

                                                             Tiffany Prom
                                                          +44 (0)8707 707 670

 Alice James Prom        Maggie Sottero
 +44 (0)1254 279 766     +44 (0)151 339 9139

                                                                    ATTIRE 29

Top to Toe
No longer the preserve of the mother of the bride and groom, hats
are now the accessory of choice for style-conscious brides. We
speak to leading milliners to find out more…

When choosing accessories to complement               Rose Belinda                                            were made popular as costume jewellery for
her outfit, the bride is presented with plenty of                                                              brides. Inevitably, over the years, the tiara is now
options, particularly with regards to headwear.                                                               everywhere, as likely to adorn a Saturday night
Should she wear a veil, tiara or both? Or should                                                              reveller as a bride. The tiara is devalued and
she do away with tradition and opt instead for                                                                discerning brides are looking for a more individual
a hat or fascinator? Modern brides, it seems,                                                                 statement of good taste.”
are increasingly selecting the latter options and                                                                Over the past decade, Rose Belinda has
retailers keen to maximise accessories sales should                                                           diversified into fashion accessories, supplying
start stocking up now.                                                                                        hats and fascinators for all occasions. Through
   Hatsonheads is an accessories company located                                                              acquisition, the firm has also become the UK’s
at The Artisan Design Studio in Lincoln. Co-run                                                               last remaining manufacturer of silk flowers, using
by fashion designers, Angela Coupe and Carol                                                                  antique tools and traditional methods. Flowers
Robinson, the duo has won a number of awards,                                                                 now form an important part of Rose Belinda’s
most recently the ‘Hatty Award 2008’ for their        the races.” They’re also proud that all their designs   Bridal and Fashion Collections.
Designer Hat Making Kits and Millinery Courses.       are made in the UK: “We strongly believe that we           Another company that places great emphasis
Most of the time, Angela and Carol can be             should promote UK design talent and do our bit          on its UK-based design and manufacture is
found at the studio designing and hand tailoring      for the UK fashion manufacturing industry.”             Vivien Sheriff Millinery. Established in Salisbury,
millinery in a range of styles. Speaking about           Naturally, weddings is a core market for the         Wiltshire around four years ago, the brand is
their product offering, they say: “We don’t make       design duo and, in recent times, they say they          fast becoming one of the most respected names
ordinary hats, we create spectacular, individual,     have noticed a shift in the type of headwear their      in the field of fine millinery. “All our pieces are
head turning adornments with a hint of humour         brides are requesting: “Hair decorations and            manufactured by hand in the UK, from start to
and quirkiness, perfect for a wedding or day at       jewellery seems to be taking the place of traditional finish, which is why our customers love us,” says
                                                      veils and our brides                                                                Charlie Gale. “Our
                                                      like to have something         “The tiara is now everywhere, designs are classic and
                       Vivien Sheriff Millinery
                                                      unusual to wear, like                                                               yet cutting edge, and we
                                                                                     as likely to adorn a Saturday
                                                      small headpieces and                                                                are always looking for
                                                      fascinators with jewellery night reveller as a bride.                               innovative new ways to
                                                      incorporated into the                                                               use our exquisite feathers,
                                                                                     The tiara is devalued and
                                                      designs with veiling over                                                           silks and organzas.”
                                                      the eyes.” They continue:      discerning brides are                                   Vivien Sherrif
                                                      “Our brides are looking                                                             Millinery designs and
                                                                                     looking for a more individual
                                                      for something unique for                                                            makes a wide range of
                                                      their special day and tend statement of good taste.”                                headpieces for brides,
                                                      to prefer headpieces that                                                           from larger cocktail hats
                                                      are one-off, bespoke pieces. We are also getting         to smaller headpieces, as well as handmade veils
                                                      more and more orders for special hand made              and tiaras. All pieces are comfortable and wearable
                                                      couture fascinators.”                                   so they can be worn right through to evening.
                                                         John Lee, Director of Rose Belinda, an               Recently the company noticed an increased uptake
                                                      established bridal accessories firm that launched to     in hats by brides, and responded by creating a
                                                      the trade in 1981, has also noticed this shift. In his  whole new brand to cater for this market. “Our
                                                      eyes, the catalyst for this change is easy to pinpoint: designs have always been popular with brides;
                                                      “Tiaras, once the preserve of the aristocracy,          however, demand for our designs has been so


                                                  Image: Dave Overton
                                                                        interest would be to host a hat-making workshop,
                                                                        whereby brides-to-be, or members of the wedding      Vivien Sheriff Millinery
                                                                        party can create their own bespoke headpiece.
                                                                        The Designer Hat Making Kits have been created
                                                                        using four unique designs from Hatsonheads, and

                                                                         “Hair decorations and
                                                                         jewellery seems to be taking
                                                                         the place of traditional veils
                                                                         and our brides like to have
                                     Hatsonheads                         something unusual to wear,
high in recent times that we decided to make our                         like small headpieces and
bridal collection a whole brand in its own right
(Vivien Sheriff Bride). The new bridal collection
                                                                        fascinators with jewellery
has proved a huge hit over the last year and we                         incorporated into the designs                      are available in 15 colourways. Each one contains
have been overwhelmed with requests for bespoke
pieces incorporating personal touches such as silk
                                                                        with veiling over the eyes.”                       step by step instructions, all materials required, and
                                                                                                                           a designer hat box to store the completed item.
from the bride’s gown, or from vintage jewellery                                               Vivien Sheriff Millinery     Retailing at just £29.99, the kits are excellent value
etc. We have also been busy designing amazing and
                                                                                                                           and would be perfect for using at any in-store
unusual couture veils as well as hand made crystal
                                                                                                                           bridal event.
wire ‘tiaras’ that are so beautiful, they have been
                                                                                                                              While trends come and go, the demand for
described as works of art.”
                                                                                                                           beautifully crafted bridal accessories has never
   For retailers, the opportunities presented by such
                                                                                                                           gone out of fashion. Hats are very much in-vogue
a keen interest in hats and fascinators should not
                                                                                                                           for today’s discerning bride in search of a classic,
be ignored. Headwear completes a bridal outfit,
                                                                                                                           sophisticated look, and UK-based milliners can
and may well help to convince a bride that the
                                                                                                                           deliver exactly what they are looking for. A
dress she has tried on is ‘the one’. On presenting
hats in-store, Charlie encourages retailers to:
                                                                                                                             TOP TRENDS
“Display them well and offer brides-to-be our
                                                                                                                             “This season is about restraint. Retro is in, and
bespoke colour matching service as we pride
                                                                                                                             less is more, with beauty in the detail. Flowers,
ourselves on being able to match any outfit for
                                                                                                                             net, small ‘button’ hats and fascinators on
style and colour.” She continues: “It’s important to
                                                                                                                             structured sinamay shapes are all popular.”
provide a good array of price points as, with the
                                                                                                                             John Lee
influx of Chinese imports to many department
stores, the independents have more of a chance
                                                                                                                             “Any style with bespoke touches and veiling
of getting a sale. More often than not, potential
                                                                                                                             will continue to be big this year. Vintage
customers are looking for something more unique
                                                                                                                             is popular year after year with brides. Also,
for their special occasion.”
                                                                                                                             volume is back, so oversized pouffy veils are
   Retailers not yet stocking a hat line may want
                                                                                                                             sure to sell well.” Charlie Gale
to test their local market first. One way of gauging

 Rose Belinda                               Rose Belinda                                           Rose Belinda
                                                                                                                                            FURTHER INFORMATION
                                                                                                                                            Tel: +44 (0)1522 529 165

                                                                                                                                            Vivien Sheriff Millinery
                                                                                                                                            Tel: +44 (0)1725 512 983

                                                                                                                                            Rose Belinda
                                                                                                                                            Tel: +44 (0)1423 358 986

                                                                                                                                                                    ATTIRE 31
Ellie -Rose

                                                                                                                     Retailer Interview

Mother and daughter team Joy Devine and Liz Devine-
Wright opened hat and accessory boutique Simply Devine in
Yorkshire five years ago, and it is now one of the best in the
region. We spoke to Liz about their journey to the top...                                                       Joy Devine and Liz Devine-Wright

Liz Devine-Wright                      What was your career                        What do you consider to be your core customer base?
                                       background before you opened                Our core customer base for millinery is ladies who are main players at
                                       Simply Devine?                              weddings, i.e the bride or groom’s mother and their families, not excluding
                                       Strangely, we had two very non-related      racehorse owners and race-goers. We also do extremely well with our jewellery
                                       career backgrounds. My mother, Joy, had     and accessories for gifts or just for treating one’s self. Our customers range
                                       ‘retired’ as a postwoman and I had a 30     from teenagers to mature ladies and we have many customers that believe if
                                       year career in secretarial work.            they do not shop locally then they will have an empty high street.

                                        What prompted you to launch                How would you describe the presentation of your shop?
                                        your shop and how did you                  With a solid oak floor and locally made special purpose fittings, not to
                                        decide on the concept?                     mention the large hat drawers and period counter, it’s unique! It was also re-
                                        Alongside a full time secretarial job      decorated at Christmas, so it’s fresh and clean. We had to have body tinted
                                        I was running a long term property         glass in the front window since it is South facing, which we are told makes the
                                        portfolio and bought the current site of   shop look very ‘posh’!
                                        Simply Devine not knowing what to do
                                        with it. It needed total refurbishment     How do you source new product lines and designers?
                                        and was my first commercial property.       We visit trade shows from London to Scotland, as well as the European
                                        My husband, Andrew Wright is an            shows. We do source via other means, but our core business is sourced
architect and was commissioned to bring the building to its current state and      at Moda. We like to deal with the smaller companies because the larger
oversee the build programme to create the Simply Devine boutique and a             companies have minimum orders that are too great, ending up with too much
separate flat above it. Mum was always interested in millinery and was taught       of the same product.
by couture milliner Peter Kingston Youel, Head of the Leeds College of Art
& Design. Following a number of years since the death of mum’s partner my          What are the key factors you consider when introducing a new
sister and I suggested that she start her own business, and so Simply Devine       product line?
was born at my property.                                                           We have to like it, and we don’t want tons of it! We have a saying in the shop
                                                                                   that “if you like it, buy it, because we don’t always source more than one!” There
How did you select the premises and location for your business?                    are three of us in the business now, mum, my younger sister Kay and I, so
Properties were scarce at that time and it was bought with gut feeling. Whilst     when we do our buying we know that we can cover the taste of a good range
the shop is not on the main drag, customers come from all over Yorkshire and       of ages.
Cheshire and can park right outside, which is a fantastic advantage. Those
who know about us say how lovely it is to spend considerable time choosing         How important is product knowledge and customer service?
headwear without having to worry about parking meters! The shop was also           I can’t tell you how knowledgeable mum is about the millinery sold in the
once next to a sub-Post Office which was very convenient for sending our web         shop. We have hundreds and hundreds of pieces and she knows exactly what
orders because we could just pop next door, but sadly it closed last year.         she has in the shop and where it is! Mum also knows what suits each customer

                                                                                                                                                       ATTIRE 33
and has a fantastic eye for creating a stunning ensemble, allowing you to           What are your future plans for the business?
stand out from the crowd. It is Simply Devine policy not to sell headwear if        I’ve set our goals high. We want to be the specialist hat shop in Yorkshire! We
it doesn’t suit the customer. If we haven’t got the right piece we will not force   currently have our silk and cashmere wraps dyed to match the headwear that is
a sale. In the last five years we have trusted word of mouth for our marketing       available at Simply Devine, so we are taking our first steps to exhibit at Moda
and it has worked. A local race meeting was cancelled last year and mum             in August offering seasonal, coloured pashminas and wraps. It has taken a long
very kindly telephoned all of her customers to say that they could have their       time to build the infrastructure for this service and we now feel that we are
deposits back!                                                                      ready to take the leap forward. A

How do you view the current state of the market?
We think it is really sad to see well established businesses close because we
now know how much work goes into a small business; however, there is and
has been far too much borrowed money around. It was always our policy not
to borrow money and, whilst we are by no means rich, we can sleep at night.
However, in the early days we remember only having a pound in the bank! We
would like to think that ‘specialist’ shops will do well in the future. Consumers
want quality as well as knowledge and customer service, and a specialist service
should be fit for royalty. The current market may have stopped us from renting
a second shop, but it certainly has not stopped us from moving forward.

What advice would you pass on to other retailers considering a
move into hats and accessories?
Don’t expect to become a millionaire – just be passionate about hats. Hats
are a seasonal product. We have an extra long holiday from Christmas and
don’t re-open until early February, and then we only open from Wednesday to
Saturday. Once spring arrives we open the shop from Tuesday to Saturday. It’s        FURTHER INFORMATION
a lifestyle choice.                                                                  Telephone +44 (0)1937 836 068 or visit

                 Phoenix Gowns
                  Elegant, beautiful, affordable

                            Phoenix Gowns are the only
                          choice for exceptional quality &
                             design at affordable prices

  For enquiries please call
       01322 338 503
The stunning ICON Collection is now available.
  Please contact us to make an appointment.

    UK Sales Executive: Mr Robert Wilson
              07783 476 408
                             Growing your
                             It is possible to build upon your existing offering to consumers in this current
                             climate, says Business Link Adviser, Peter Mulhall. Read on to find out how…

Every business would like to see their sales              monthly will keep you on track.                               attract new customers.
increase and their profit margins improve, but this           I always encourage business owners to think           •    Open another shop, or expand or refurbish
isn’t just going to happen of its own accord – it         about a longer term vision for their business –               your existing shop.
needs positive action from the owner or manager,          certainly one year, and perhaps two years or longer      •    Create a website or, if you already have one,
looking at fresh angles and seeking out new               in some cases, as it encourages them to think about           increase your internet sales.
opportunities to keep developing the business. It         what they want for the business and how their plan       •    Attend trade fairs, shows and exhibitions.
is always difficult deciding when and how to grow           for the coming year will move them towards their
your business and it is even more daunting in the         ultimate goal.                                           You may need to adopt all your strategies in order
current economic climate.                                                                                          to reach your goals, but each strategy may require
   Nevertheless, there are alternatives to explore        Think about what you want your business to be like       different actions in order to achieve it. At this stage
that may give you the chance to grow your                 in one to two years time:                                you should put more detail into your plan for each
business without taking on too much extra risk or         •    What types of products will you be                  idea. For example, for the first strategy you might:
investment: one such strategy is collaboration and             selling? Use your current knowledge of              •     Develop themed shopping events with other
we will focus on this topic in the second part of the          your customers’ needs to think of any new                 retailers in your area.
article. Before making any decisions it is essential           directions.                                         •     Introduce a loyalty card to incentivise your
to research your options thoroughly and to make           •    What type of customers will you have and                  regular customers.
sure you fully understand the implications of your             what markets will you be serving? Perhaps           •     Arrange special discount days.
plans, so you know what to expect and you can                  you will widen your market by developing a          Once you have listed your options for each strategy
then adjust your actions if the results don’t meet             website or you will attend more trade fairs to      you should prepare your financial plan or annual
your expectations.                                             reach a much wider audience.                        budgets. How detailed this is will depend on your
                                                          •    Can you grow your business by collaborating         business. The very least you should do is to have
Getting to where you want to be                                with other businesses?                              targets for the key things you want to achieve,
There’s no getting away from the fact that business       •    What level of turnover and profit do you want        broken down into monthly chunks. You should
planning is essential to success. If you haven’t               to achieve and what resources will you need?        include your sales targets, buying budgets, and cost
updated your business plan for some time, or              •    This should get you thinking of where you           targets for any large costs such as setting up a new
haven’t got one, then now is the time to focus on              want to take your business in the next phase        website or refurbishing your shop.
your plan.                                                     of its development.
                                                                                                                   “There’s no getting away from the fact that
How to make your business plan work for you               The next stage is to look at your strategies for         business planning is essential to success.
I usually encourage my clients to adopt an action         achieving the vision. For instance you might decide      If you haven’t updated your business plan
centred approach to planning which, apart from            to do the following:                                     for some time, or haven’t got one, then
the financial budgets, involves relatively little paper.   •    Sell more of what you currently offer to your        now is the time to focus on your plan.”
Having a vision, annual goals, targets and                     existing customers. This is about selling skills,
milestones identified as stepping stones to the                 use of displays and promotional activity.           Putting your plans into action
vision, is simple but highly effective. Writing down       •    Introduce different product ranges to not only       You need an action plan for each of the strategies
your strategies and action plan and reviewing it               increase sales to existing customers, but also to   that you have chosen. For instance, you might

                                                                                                                               Business Link

decide to completely upgrade your website in              There are several things to consider when going      some investigation is needed before any decision
order to improve your online sales. To achieve this     down this road:                                        is made.
someone needs to do something about it.                                                                            A sobering thought is that the majority of
  Your action plan should be concise and cover          The opportunity                                        collaborative business relationships fail. This is why
each of your strategies:                                You will need to identify an opportunity. You may      it’s so important to do your groundwork first. Be
                                                        want to collaborate on a one-off event such as          prepared to put the time and effort into making
•    What needs to be done?                             a trade fair or you may see that there are longer      the partnership work and you stand a good chance
•    Who is responsible for making sure it              term activities such as setting up a website, where    of succeeding.
     gets done?                                         collaboration could help you share costs and
•    When should this activity be completed?            expertise.                                             In a nutshell:
•    What resources will be needed, including                                                                  •    Identify the business opportunity;
     money, people, equipment etc, in order to get      Trust                                                  •    Choose your partner carefully;
     it done?                                           This is a difficult one as it only truly forms with      •    Spend time getting to know them and their
•    How will you know that it has been                 experience. Ultimately you will need to trust               business;
     completed successfully?                            partners, sometimes with sensitive information         •    Take advice;
                                                        about your own business. Not only that, you will       •    Be clear about the risks and benefits.
Reviewing your progress                                 need to trust that the person you collaborate
This is a process that is often overlooked but, you     with will fulfil their responsibilities on your joint   A helping hand is there – grasp it
should assess progress, ideally at least monthly.       projects or ventures. There will inevitably be a       You might want to bounce your ideas off someone
Typically, you should look at what you, your staff or    division of labour and you are unlikely to be able     to get a reality check and see if there are aspects of
anyone else involved were meant to do during the        to supervise, hands-on, the things that the other      your plan that you hadn’t thought about. Or you
period, and whether and how well it was done. You       person is doing. If you, as a sole trader, want to     may just need help with practical business skills
should also check progress against financial targets     collaborate with other sole traders, understanding     such as finance, business planning or marketing. Or
and budgets.                                            the other person’s style of doing business,            you may need to find a good supplier to help you
   But remember, customers’ needs, shopping habits      vision, view of the world, their values, beliefs       with a specific task such as designing your website.
and local conditions are constantly changing, so at     and behaviours will be important for effective          This is where Business Link can help. The
this stage you should decide if the action plan is      collaboration.                                         programme of workshops will give you all the
still relevant given the events or changes that may                                                            business skills you need to help grow your business.
have occurred (or are likely to occur) and amend as     Skills match                                           In addition you can arrange a one-to-one meeting
necessary.                                              One of the big advantages of business                  with an adviser to analyse your needs and if you are
   You should also identify and share the lessons       collaboration is that you can benefit from skills       looking for a supplier then they can help you find
learned from the actions you have taken, which          and competencies that you don’t have. This doesn't     the perfect match through the supplier database. A
will improve the way things are done in the future.     happen automatically; drawing up a ‘skills map’ and
Therefore, the four stages are: Plan, Action, Review    checking each potential partner’s skills in order to   “One option for developing your business
and Act on the outcome of the review.                   match the skills you need with those available is a    without taking on too much additional
                                                        crucial part of the preparation stage.                 financial risk is collaboration. You may have
Collaboration                                              So yes it is definitely an option to consider…       met someone at an event or know another
As we’ve already mentioned, one option for              It is widely accepted that business co-operation       retailer and think that you could work
developing your business without taking on too          or collaboration is a valid strategy for growing a     together .”
much additional financial risk is collaboration.         business. There are huge benefits to be had from
You may have met someone at an event or know            utilising the synergy of complementary businesses
another retailer and think that you could work          as well as potential economies of scale.                 Further information
together. You could, for example, share the costs       …but don't go into it blindfolded.                       For more details on all Business Link services,
of a stand at a trade fair, or work with other retail                                                            including details of events in your area, visit
outlets in your area to promote special discount        We have only scratched the surface and looked at or telephone
days or develop a website with another business.        a few aspects, but even so it should be clear that       +44 (0)845 600 9006.

                                                                                                                                                         ATTIRE 39
Jonathan James speaks to Attire Bridal
about his fast-growing bridal brand


Tell us a little about your background. What             relationship with my customers, has proven to            saying that this is the wrong thing to do, but
prompted you to set up your company, Jonathan            work as a winning combination.                           it’s not a route that I wanted to follow. Retailers
James Couture Bridal?                                                                                             wishing to become a stockist of my label are
Having researched many bridal retailers over a           Tell us a little about your current collections          required to purchase eight gowns from the
number of years, I felt that there was a need for a      - how you would you describe them?                       collection. They then have a full 12 month selling
diverse range of bridal gowns that gave retailers        I wanted the 2009 “ICON” Collection to epitomise         period. My retailers have found this to be a sensible
the ability to change the design to suit their brides’   1950s glamour, so it features soft gathered skirts       way of working as they are able to judge the
requirements. Every bride wants that slight touch        with lots of movement, but a twist of modern             collection in their store from the outset and most
of individuality to their gown and my collection         day fashion. The 2009 collection has proved most         have added further styles to their range throughout
allows retailers to work with their bride to achieve     successful, and the images have captured the look I      the year by listening to their brides’ requirements.
the perfect look and, in turn, allows the bride          wanted perfectly.
to play an important part in creating her gown                                                                    How do you promote your business?
should she so wish.                                      What are your best-selling designs?                      Currently I have a team of sales consultants that
                                                         As I try to make each collection as diverse as           visit bridal retailers in their own stores to promote
Jonathan James Couture Bridal was only                   possible, it’s tough to say which styles have outsold    the collections. Again, I came to this decision from
launched in March 2006. Was it difficult to                others due to the fact that my gowns reflect a            listening to bridal retailers’ requirements. My
convince retailers to take on a new label?               bride’s individuality. However, for the fairytale        retailers find that it is a more leisurely way of
Obviously launching a new label in an already            bride “Sylvie” has been fantastic and has been           purchasing your collection and minimises the
saturated market was tough, but I’m a great              ordered in a wide range of colours by retailers.         chance of possibly buying styles that you may
believer in working closely with your customers          “Demeter” and “Rula” have also been fantastic            already have similar in-store. National advertising
and offering something fresh and new to retailers. I      gowns this season.                                       is also extremely important to me and my label. If
understand that the purchasing of a new designer                                                                  advertising is to be successful then it has to be in
label is at a risk and, therefore, offered all new        How often do you launch new lines?                       the right place. I am very happy with my current
retailers as much support as possible with designer      This question comes back to working closely with         advertising choices as the results are to be seen
days and targeted national advertising. I’m proud to     your retailers. I only release one collection per year   through my retailers’ sales.
have stores stocking my label and advertising the        as, during my research into bridal retailers, I
fact, but the most important thing is that retailers     discovered that retailers cannot keep up with            How are you being affected by the current
are making a fantastic mark up and successfully          certain levels of purchasing that are required by        economic climate (if at all) and what steps are you
selling the gowns. This, teamed with a great             other bridal designers or manufacturers. I’m not         taking to minimise its impact?



I’m a great believer in turning a negative into a         areas. I always consider the fact that my stockists     my retailers. All retailers are given a login and
positive. I think everybody is being affected by           have invested in my label and my brand and they         password into the website where they can access
the current climate, but if we are to succeed then        need that to work for them. The last thing that I       all of my business forms and promotional material;
we have to fight it. We are working with retailers         wanted to do was to create a situation where my         they can also read news items and be informed
more than ever at the moment, promoting their             own customers were fighting each other for the           of any changes that are coming up. From the
stores and the label with more designer days and          same business and slashing prices to obtain it. I       bride’s point of view the site is extremely user
innovative advertising. If you have a great product       personally feel that this lowers the profile of the      friendly, allowing the bride to view images of all
and a good attitude then your product will sell.          label and sends out a message of desperation from       aspects of the gowns.
The answer is not to slash prices and try to beat         the retailer to the bride. Business is hard enough to
the next man down; I feel it is to promote your           obtain in the first place without having the brides      What can we expect from your brand in 2010?
business, be proud of your labels and stand your          beating down the retailers on price.                    I am so excited about my 2010 collection “The
ground; this positive attitude will undoubtedly              The collections were launched in Canada and          Gem Collection”. I have introduced many new
emanate to your customers.                                Australia at the end of 2008, and this has proved a     fabrics including new silks and organzas and
                                                          good move for me. I am still insistent of using the     stunning lace. It’s under wraps at the moment but
Is this stockist base something you are hoping            same business direction in those countries as I have    is released for sale from June 2009 to retailers and
to grow and would you consider approaching                in the UK.                                              delivered to retailers from September 2009. A
stockists in other countries?
Of course, but within reason. I don’t want a              When did you launch your website and who                 Further information
stockist on every corner because I don’t think that       designed it? How does it support your business?          Any new retailers may call Mr Robert Wilson to
this works. I am much happier to have a smaller           My website was designed by ‘Spira Creative’. It          make an appointment to view The Gem
stockist base with a larger gown collection, selling      was of the upmost importance that the website            Collection on +44 (0)7783 476 408. To find out
across the board. Indeed, I have had to place some        reflected the elegance and sophistication of my           more about Jonathan James Couture, simply visit
retailers on a waiting list for availability in certain   gowns. I also wanted to interact via the web with

                                                                                                                                                          ATTIRE 41
Through the looking                                                                                                                  glass
  Debbie Williams,                                                                 We speak to two bridal retailers to find
  Owner, Amychloe Bridal
                                                                                   out their differing views on the art of
  Tel: +44 (0)1269 595 500                                                         window display…

  How often do you change your

                                                                                    Samantha Neville,
  window display?
  I always try to change the window
  display every week. If I just absolutely
  love gown in the window and don’t
                                                                                    Director, Mamfii Bridal, Winner of Best Bridal Retailer 2009
  want to take it out, sometimes it stays
                                                                                    Tel: +44 (0)1483 480 556
  in for a little longer!
  Do you have a particular day of the
                                                                                    How often do you change your window display?
  week/time of day for this and why?
                                                                                    We try to change it at least once a week so that passing traffic does not
  We don’t have a set time – just when
                                                                                    see the same thing every day.
  the mood takes us.
                                                                                    Do you have a particular day of the week/time of day for this and why?
  Is this something you feel is important? Why? Why not?
                                                                                    We tend to change the window on a day that is quieter so this changes
  It’s very important. The window dress stirs up so many different emotions
                                                                                    week by week! It needs a bit of time spent on it so we have to fit it in
  for all sorts of poeple. I really love the reaction we get from the passers by
                                                                                    between brides.
  as they see something new or something a bit outragous.
     The older ladies get quite excited and even open the door and tell us
                                                                                    Is this something you feel is important? Why? Why not?
  what they think!
                                                                                    Yes – the shop front is a large form of advertising, so it needs to be
                                                                                    appealing and attention grabbing.
  Any success stories? For example, has a particular window display
  attracted a surprising number of brides?
                                                                                    Any success stories? For example, has a particular window display
  You would be amazed at how many calls we get about the dress in the
                                                                                    attracted a surprising number of brides?
  window, even from men asking details so they can tell their girlfriend
                                                                                    A black and white themed display attracted a lot of attention, and if we
  about a dress they have seen.
                                                                                    do something a little unusual it always gets commented upon.
  Any window display disasters?
                                                                                    Any window display disasters?
  No disasters as yet! Many brides call to ask the price and name of a gown
                                                                                    Only on a Saturday! If brides ask to try what’s in the window you end
  they had seen when driving past. I often think ‘please don’t smash your
                                                                                    up with a few bare mannequins as your display!
  car as you are looking in!’.
                                                                                    What elements would you say make a good window display?
  What elements would you say make a good window display?
                                                                                    A great dress and not too much clutter! A
  I think all you need for a good window display is a fabulous gown and
  nothing else. Keep it simple and let the gown do all the talking, this looks
  classy too.
                                                                                    TOP TOPS
  TOP TOPS                                                                          * Let the dress speak for itself.
                                                                                    * Have some sparkle to catch the light.
  * Don’t make the display too fussy.                                               * A well placed mirror if the dress has back detail.
  * Always place one of your most eye-catching dresses in the window.               * A couple of accessories will often complete the picture.

            Trudy Lee
                     Bridal Dress Collection   email:   tel: 01707 643633
                          Victoria Kay
                                  The A r t of the Dre ss

                              The stunning new collection
                                    is now available

                            Please phone our sales team for an appointment.

                                   + 44   (0) 1424 427284 |

These gorgeous fishtail
gowns provide the perfect
fit for discerning brides

                            ELLIS BRIDALS
                            +44 (0)20 8888 8833

                                      ATTIRE 45
  A stunning and
  inspirational collection
  of bridal gowns. Please
  contact us to make an
  appointment to view or
  call our UK Sales Agent
  Phil Swift on
  07984 876330
          formally Eva Jordan Bridal
   formally Samantha Jane Bridesmaids

   All dresses available in Taffeta & Satin
     Over 40 colour ways - from £69.00
    For more details please contact our
   UK agent Phil Swift on 07984 876330
                              ALFRED SUNG
                              +44 (0)1909 774 471
                                                                  AMANDA W
                                                                  +44 (0)1625
                                                                              522 344

                                           BLU @ MORI
                                           MORI LEE
                                           +44 (0)1476 54
                                                          1 116

                                                                                          ALICE JAMES
                                                                                          +44 (0)1254 279 766

ALFRED              6
          08 262 62
+44 (0)19         unitedking
                                                                                                   ATTIRE 47
                                                                NOVIA D’ART
                                                                +34 932 378 015

                                                                                               +44 (0)1242
                                                                                                            226 501

                                   BENJAMIN ROBERTS
                                   +44 (0)1792 564 710
                       AL UK
           ION BRID
IMPRESS               2
           27 851 45
 +44 (0)17        
             ss ionbridal.c

                                                     MARK LESLE
                                                     +44 (0)1621 78
                                                                    4 784

                                                                                    LUCCA BRIDE
                                                                                    +45 (0)9893 0144

E B        ternity

            Bridal wholesale £85 - £299
          Bridesmaids wholesale £49 - £89

           Bridesmaids available in over
              60 colours & 5 fabrics

           Bridal wholesale £139 - £375
     Evening wear / MoB wholesale £95 - £159

          Stock available of all collections
              for immediate delivery

            Client only online warehouse
        to view stock & account information

        View our Spring 2010 collections at
           Moda this August 9th-11th &
         BBEH this September 13th-15th

          Promwear wholesale £75 - £165

       Studio 10 Valley House Hornbeam Park
           Harrogate England HG2 8QT
Tel: +44 (0) 870 770 7670 Fax: +44 (0) 870 770 7610
                                 ANGELINA FACCENDA @ MORI LEE
                                              +44 (0)1476 541 116
                                                                                                     BY CARL M
                                                                                         +44 (0)1245
                                                                                                     425 558

                                            PURE BRIDAL BY RO
                                            +44 (0)8707 701 024

                                                                               STEWART PA
                                                                              +44 (0)20 8838

ROMANT              4
          07 701 02
+44 (0)87                                                                                                    VICTORIA JANE
ww w.romanti                                                                                                             +44 (0)1476 541 113

                                                                                                                                 51 ATTIRE
                                                                                                                                 ATTIRE 51

To see stockist list, download brochure or view more styles visit or for a free copy of our brochure or further
information email – Tel: 020 8554 6436
                                                                                                                               TH March

Protecting your Business
The current economic downturn is not something anyone can afford
to ignore, particularly with no signs of improvement in the foreseeable
future. During this period of economic uncertainty, reviewing and
streamlining the financial outgoings of your business is an obvious
course of action, with your insurance premiums being one of the
first areas you might look at to reduce costs. Reviewing your policy
is something that should be encouraged by your insurance provider
and can be undertaken at any time and should be free of charge.
Here Jim Pittman, ACII Chartered Insurance Broker of T.H. March
& Co Limited discusses the importance of the correct insurance
cover that will see you through the current financial downturn.

Does it pay to cut costs?                          insurance brokers offer and have built their
There are a number of ways in which you can        reputations on. Discounted premium rates are
look to reduce your insurance premiums but         not only unsustainable in the long-term but           Jim Pittman ACII Chartered Insurance Broker
whether it is financially prudent to change         more importantly have the potential to put your       of TH March & Co Limited explains why it pays
the terms of your insurance cover, even in         business at serious risk due to gaps in cover;        to protect your key assets.
the short term, is highly questionable. For        risks you cannot afford to take.
example, understating your sums insured to                                                                  Ensure all quotations are in writing and that
get a premium saving could have significant         Protecting your business                             the terms are clear and unambiguous;
long-term consequences as many policies            Historically during a recession, retail businesses       When comparing quotations with existing
impose penalties in the event of under insurance   become more vulnerable making the likelihood         providers make sure you are comparing ‘like for
at the time of a loss. Equally, taking a chance    of a claim more probable. Having adequate,           like’ for all aspects of the policy;
by dropping certain covers to achieve a small      dependable insurance protection to cover all             Make certain the proposed insurer is of
cost saving could become an expensive mistake      eventualities is critical to the security of the     sound, secure, financial standing; and
when a claim occurs which is not insured.          long-term future of your business.                       Be satisfied that a new provider will give you
                                                                                                        the same high levels of customer service and
                                                   Your partner in business                             aftercare supplied by your current insurer. A
“Caution should prevail if you are                 It may sound like a bit of a cliché, but you
offered a cheaper alternative to your              cannot afford to underestimate the role a
                                                   reputable and reliable insurance provider can        “Taking a chance by dropping
existing insurance arrangements.”                  and should play in protecting your business.
                                                      A good provider will always be proactive
                                                                                                        certain covers to achieve a small
Talk is cheap                                      and work with you on an ongoing basis to             cost saving could become an
It is important that as a business you negotiate   identify any changes that need to be made            expensive mistake when a claim
the best possible deals to achieve secure,         to your policy to ensure that your business          occurs which is not insured.”
competitive prices for all your financial           is fully protected – giving you peace of mind
business needs. However, caution should            throughout these difficult times.
prevail if you are offered a cheaper alternative
to your existing insurance arrangements. The       Considering a review?                                  Further information
commercial insurance market is currently           If you are considering or are mid-way through a        T.H. March & Co Limited, Insurance Brokers
flooded with so called competitive deals that       policy review, there are a number of points you        is a well-established family business
may simply not provide the high standards          need to consider before signing on the dotted          founded in 1887. To find out more visit the
of integrity and customer care that reputable      line, including:                                       website

                                                                                                                                             ATTIRE 53
Jane Watson and Anthony Meier solve your retail worries…

                                           Jane Watson has over 30 years’
                                           experience in bridal retail,
                                           previously selling dresses to             dresses at the show, there was little point. Instead, I started taking just enough
  Anthony Meier is the                                                               dresses for the mannequins and made a display so all the designs and colours
                                           brides and supplying shops
  principal of Anthony                     with Eva Jordan Couture Bridal            complemented each other.
  Meier & Co. Chartered                    and Samantha Jane Collection                 I always took my diary to make appointments.
  Accountants, based in                    Bridesmaids and Proms.                       Don’t sit down with a book or newspaper; this is such bad manners as the
  South East London.                          In response to retailer                brides have made an effort to come to see you. Make a big effort to speak to
  Anthony specialises in                   demand, seven years ago she               as many people as you can; hand out leaflets, offers, details of your next sale or
  accounting, tax services and             launched a consultancy firm,               designer day and talk to them about these events. Ask the brides if they would
  tax planning for small and               ‘Starting a Bridal Business’,             like to make an appointment to see the stunning collection you have in your
  medium-sized businesses.                 to advise new and existing                showrooms. Make a point of saying there is no obligation to buy and that they
  Email Anthony Meier at:                  bridal retailers on all aspects of        can just come along and have some fun. If they like you, they will want to buy                    running a successful shop.                their dress from your showrooms.

                                                                                     Limited liability

                                                                                     Q     I have been a sole trader for many years. Will I be better off tax-wise as a
                                                                                           limited company?

                                                                                     A      Anthony Meier says: The tax regime for a limited company is very
                                                                                            different, and it is possible to pay far less tax via a limited company. There
                                                                                     are many variables however and not everyone’s trading circumstances suit a
                                                                                     company structure. The top rate of tax you could pay as a sole trader is 40%
                                                                                     plus 1% National Insurance [NI] on top, for profits above £34,800. The top

Stand and deliver
                                                                                     rate of tax for a limited company is 22% on profits up to £300,000. A limited
                                                                                     company will pay significantly less tax and be able to retain more profit, in
                                                                                     cash or assets. Any retained profit will, therefore, belong to the company and
                                                                                     not the individual.
Q      I have a wonderful bridal business, but I’m well aware that I need to
       be doing as much as I can in this current economic climate to bring in
new brides-to-be. In a couple of months’ time there’s a large, well attended,
                                                                                        If you want to retain control of the profit you must pay yourself from the
                                                                                     company. There are two ways you can do this: via dividends and via salary with
wedding fayre in my area and I’m seriously considering exhibiting. The stand is      a PAYE scheme. You can draw up to £34,800 via dividends without tax, as
fairly expensive – do you have any advice on presentation and how to make the        long as you have no other income. Any additional draw downs are then taxed
most of this opportunity?                                                            at 25%.
                                                                                        You can also pay yourself via salary, up to approximately £5,000 per annum,
                                                                                     without paying tax or NI. You will be liable for tax and NI above this limit,
A     Jane Watson says: It is important to be seen as much as possible to
      remind brides you are active in the bridal industry, so if your advertising
budget allows then ‘go for it’. Try to negotiate a special deal as organisers need
                                                                                     and the company as your employer will have to pay ‘employers’ NI. You can
                                                                                     top up the £5,000 salary by drawing dividends of up to £29,800 without tax, as
exhibitors to make the show a success.                                               long as you keep your total income below £34,800.
  You may be able to book two shows for a considerable discount; you have               One of the advantages of using a limited company is the flexibility it offers
nothing to lose by asking and everything to gain if you can secure a good            in choosing the amounts and manner of payments. It also gives you the
deal. I used to take lots of bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses to the shows,       flexibility of deciding when and in what tax year you are paid which provides
then I decided it was such hard work and, as the brides couldn’t try on the          plenty of scope for further tax planning.
Tackling time wasters
Q     My bridal business is located in a very popular university town with
      plenty of passing trade. Unfortunately, it also means I attract a lot of
‘time-wasters’ i.e. girls who, when asked, are very vague about the date of their
wedding and, after trying on several dresses, never return for a second look. I’m
well aware that some may be genuine, but it’s so frustrating. Do you have any
advice for me?

A     Jane Watson says: This is a very difficult situation. I would suggest that it
      is acceptable to look without an appointment; however, in your personal
situation I would suggest that if they would like to try dresses on they will
need to make an appointment, and you will need a wedding date or function
date. Explain if they haven’t got a date, you will not know if you can supply
the dresses they may fall in love with; suggest it is best not to start trying
on dresses before they have a date as the dress may be discontinued if the
wedding is too far ahead.
   Young girls looking at prom dresses should be accompanied by a parent or
person paying for the dress.
   Make it a rule that groups of young girls are welcome to look but must
return with the person paying for the dress before trying the dresses on.
   Should they find the dress they wish to purchase, the adult will be there to
pay. Put a polite, clear notice on the door. If you want some help with your
sign to put in your window, please email me with an example and I will make
some additional suggestions.

Cutting tax

      I am a sole trader and feel like I am paying too much tax. Do you have
      any advice?

       Anthony Meier says: There are many ways to save tax. The most obvious
       one is claiming all business expenses and retaining all receipts. There
are many legitimate expenses you can claim for that are not widely known,
like ‘use of home as office’. If you do any work at home, you can claim for a
percentage of your home utility bills. You can also claim for stationery, interest
on a business loan, credit card interest on credit card purchases for your
business, accountancy fees, legal fees, bad debts, travelling including hotels and
subsistence while away, and many other types of expense.
   Every business expense you can claim reduces your profit and your tax.
Make sure your accountant notes down all your expenses and submits them to
the tax office. A

 Further Information
 If you have a question about any aspect of your business, simply write to Q&A Special,
 Attire Bridal magazine, Broseley House, Newlands Drive, Witham, Essex
 CM8 2UL. Alternatively, send your queries to

                                                                                          ATTIRE 55

                           in the world wide web
Award-winning retailer and columnist, Abigail Neill, reflects on her
recent website redesign…

                                                                                                                   ensure that all of my sites have performed well with
                                                                                                                   good meta tags, meta descriptions, keywords and
                                                                                                                   relevant content. It’s worth remembering that there
                                                                                                                   are two aspects to successful web design; firstly its
                                                                                                                   actual design and secondly how it performs (from
                                                                                                                   the user’s viewpoint and from an SEO viewpoint).
                                                                                                                   Mackman Group had promised to tick the technical
                                                                                                                   boxes and apply a fresh new style to my site and it
                                                                                                                   was time to see the results…
Oh no! Running late as usual! This was one               important. They listened attentively to my                   Sat Nav issues aside I arrived in time.
business meeting I didn’t want to be late for. Thank     explanative pleas for a website which would ‘invite       Unexpectedly, I realised I was really excited. Bruce
goodness for Sat Nav. I typed in the postcode that       the customer in’ and carefully reflect our business        and Gemma opened the meeting by professionally
would take me to Mackman Marketing Group in              personality in a friendly and professional way. I         reiterating the design brief and reminding me that
Sudbury and cast my mind back to the time that Sat       explained what I felt was wrong with my current           it was important to be honest if I wasn’t keen. This
Nav mistakenly took me to the wrong church on            site and Bruce reassuringly and knowledgably              was in between my impatient fidgeting and nervous
the day of a friend’s wedding! To say that was an        reiterated why it didn’t work. Comically he               chatter - I said ‘Oh God, will I like it? I so want
embarrassingly late arrival is an understatement. My     commented that our meet the team photographs              to like it, what if I don’t?...okay I’m building it up
husband and I approached the church doors as the         made us look like Estate Agents which (especially in      now, just show me...’ On reflection I suppose it was
happily married couple stepped gloriously out bells      this climate) probably isn’t a good look.                 a tad embarrassing that I should have to literally
ringing and confetti flying! Two locations with              A business website is a virtual shop window            hold back tears of joy when the new design finally
the same name 35 miles apart meant that we had           and a well designed site is essential, especially in a    flashed up on their widescreen plasma. Reaching
missed the all important ‘I do’s’. I was upset and,      competitive industry. There are many factors that         for a tissue (and blaming a non-existent cold) I
sadly for our friendship, so were the newlyweds.         contribute to a successful bridal business and under      confirmed that I was absolutely thrilled! Thrilled
   Needless to say Sat Nav and I don’t relate            the marketing umbrella I believe that a high-quality      and really relieved. I had high expectations of these
particularly well any more; however, I tentatively       and visually appealing website is crucial. Brides of      guys and they had definitely delivered.
continued with postcode entry. I was on my way           today carry out extensive wedding research online,           At last I have a great new site that the staff and
to meet with Bruce again - the likeable and trendy       join community chat forums and increasingly               I can be really proud of and one that I don’t think
looking web designer complete with curly hair            prefer to e-mail their enquiries. Sometimes dubbed        I’ll ever want to change; instead it will evolve as the
and skinny tie who was due to unveil his creative        ‘techno bride’, more often than not these ladies will     business grows and already I have plans for new and
concept for the latest Abigail’s Collection website.     most certainly check us out online before making          interesting content. Currently I believe it reflects
Although my previous three sites have been               an appointment.                                           our business personality perfectly and looks really
adequate, I felt that it was time for a complete            Ranking on the first page of Google (or other           inviting, let’s just hope that our techno brides and
design overhaul. I wanted our site to have more          search engines) when newly engaged brides-to-be           grooms agree. A
personality and I wanted customers who viewed            excitedly commence their on line wedding shop
the site to ‘want’ to come and see us. In short, that    search is a crucial part of driving business physically    Mackman Group can
was Bruce’s mission.                                     through our shop doors. Equally as important but           be contacted on
   Those of you read my columns may know I               from a user’s viewpoint there are many factors that        +44 (0)1787 388 038.
am extremely passionate about our business. Poor         contribute to the sometimes unconscious decision           Visit www.mackman
Bruce quickly understood that too, especially after      to stay online and ultimately pick up the phone or or e-mail
our first meeting just two weeks earlier during           unfavourably, to click off and find another more            info@mackman
which he took a ‘design brief ’. Brief it was not!       appealing business. Likeable design, uncomplicated
Apparently that meeting should have taken an hour        navigation, fast download speed and relevant
but I effortlessly extended it to three and a half and   content are just some of the topics that an expert         Further information
probably could have stayed longer if it were not for     will consider during the design process.                   Abigail Neill runs Abigail’s Collection,
the fact he had run out of tea, empathetic smiles           Of the many acronyms, ‘SEO’ (search engine              based in Colchester, Essex.
and nodding power.                                       optimisation) is perhaps one of the most useful            Tel: +44 (0)1206 574 575
   Understanding our business was obviously              to understand. This knowledge has enabled me to  

                                                                                                                                                               ATTIRE 57
Vintage                                                                             dreams
                                                                                We speak to Sarah Penrose, owner of A Vintage
                                                                                Wedding in Essex, about her unique bridal offering

Tell me a little about your                                                         How did you decide on the location of your store?
background. What prompted you to                                                    It really happened by default! I use a studio located opposite my parents’ home
open a bridal studio?                                                               in Essex at the moment; this allows me to keep overheads down so I can pass
Although I don’t have any direct                                                    this saving onto my brides.
experience of selling wedding gowns,
I do have a background in sales which                                               Have you had any teething problems? If so, what were they and how
stands me in good stead with regards to                                             did you overcome them?
customer service. When I started looking                                            I’ve been very lucky as I’ve not really had any teething problems once I decided
at gowns for my own wedding, which                                                  this was what I wanted to do. I always try to turn every negative into a positive
took place in April 2008, particularly                                              or learning experience.
after arriving home after an exhibition,
I could not remember seeing anything                                                What advice would you give other people opening a bridal boutique?
unique or outstanding. The dresses were                                             The advice I would give is, if it is your dream then go for it. It is great doing
all beautiful, but nothing stood out.                                               something you are truly passionate about. I love every day I spend sourcing
Eventually I found an amazing ‘Audrey                                               beautiful vintage gowns and liaising with brides-to-be.
Hepburn style’ gown made by Alan
Hannah. I then felt an inexorable pull
towards vintage, which inspired me to
set up a bridal studio that specialised in
gowns from different eras.

How do you source your vintage gowns?
At first it was a case of trial and error. Most of my gowns come from the
States, but it’s certainly not without risk as it is very difficult to tell the
condition of a gown from a picture. I now tend to buy from a handful of
reliable contacts so I know my dresses will all be in good condition.

Do you have a favorite dress in-store at present? If so, what is it
and why?
Yes, my favourite gown at present is a lovely 1950s prom dress which I know
will be snapped up shortly by one of my customers. Every time I look at it, I
marvel at how beautiful and unique it is. It has been very well cared for and is
in amazing condition. I always wonder about its original owner and the prom
it may have attended.

What designers do you currently stock, and from what eras?
I try to buy famous designer vintage dresses, and so I am researching and
learning all the time. I have a fabulous Will Steinman dress in stock at the
moment. It is gorgeous, white and frothy, ideal for someone wanting an
exclusive wedding dress. To compliment the vintage gowns, I also have a range
of samples by current designers including Charlotte Balbier, Jenny Packham,
Vera Wang, Ian Stuart and Sassi Holford. This gives my brides-to-be a broad
range of dresses to choose from. We are currently sourcing new designers and
have a good selection of prom dresses.

What is your favorite era and why?
I have to say the 1950s is by far my favourite era as I love the elegant and
feminine style.

                                                                                                                           Retailer Interview

What do you enjoy most about your role and the bridal business                           How would you like to see your business develop in the next couple
in general?                                                                              of years?
Every time I receive my dresses it’s like opening a window into someone’s                I would like to have an opportunity to work with or introduce some young
past. I often find myself wondering what the woman was like who wore the                  designers. I would also like to expand the business when the time is right. A
dress. I wonder how she felt in the dress… it’s so interesting. I also love being
surrounded by gorgeous fabrics - there is such an array of amazing coloured
silks, satins and lace. I get a thrill every time I look at the range I have carefully
selected. I also love meeting new people and, since the launch of the business,
I have met some really great girls. Even if they do not buy from me, it’s always
an interesting experience.

Are you planning to hold in-store events?
Yes, once I am more established I would like to have regular open days. I
would also like to run fashion shows in the future.

What do you feel makes your bridal store unique and how do you
self promote?
We try to research in advance of an appointment the style, colour and era a
client has in mind so that their journey is not wasted. We set aside enough
time so that the client feels at ease, and like to offer a really personal service to
make the bride feel special.

How often do you update your window displays?
Working from a studio, we do not have a window as such, our website is
our window so we hope to maximise its potential by updating it as often as
possible. I am planning to open a shop eventually, rather than operating a
studio, but it has to be in the right place, and I want to stay in Essex.

When did you launch your website and how does it complement your
in-store offering?
I launched the website pretty much straight away; however, this has also been
a case of trail and error as I was hoping to list each piece. Sadly I feel the            FURTHER INFORMATION
pictures often don’t do the dresses the justice they deserve and my stock is              To find out more about A Vintage Wedding, simply visit the website at
changing so often I can’t keep up with it. I am in the process of re thinking the Alternatively, telephone +44 (0)1376 334 627.
website, so watch this space!

                                                                                                                                                            ATTIRE 59
  Breathe New Life & Personality into your
        Online Marketing with our

Unique Fairytale Packages
                                                                                                                                       Bridal Shoes

                                                                                                                   Buttercup by
                                                                                                                   Diane Hassall

Heart &                                                What is your favourite shoe from your

                                                       current collection and why?
                                                       My favourite is the Bridget – tall and elegant
                                                       with a beautiful shape. I can’t wear it – it makes
                                                       me look like a 6ft 3in giraffe!

                                                        What is your best selling shoe from your                  it a little different, it looks great on and is a true
                                                        current collection. Why do you think this is?             contemporary classic.
                                                        Our best selling shoe without question is the                From Else, the fabulous Flirtini is a favourite of
                                                        Maisie style – a fabulous peep toe with plenty of         mine. It’s a decadent platform sandal with va va
                                                        things going for it. It’s high – about 3½ inches,         voom heels – it’s great for the modern bride or
Leading bridal footwear                                 it has a lovely bit of bling, it holds the foot, gives    bridesmaid.
suppliers talk trends                                   plenty of coverage and is amazingly comfortable.             As for Couture, I love this new collection, but
                                                        It has been our consistent best seller since we           my absolute favourite is Santi - another peep
                                          Bridget by    introduced it in 2007. We love it and our brides          toe with a lustrous vintage style diamanté ring. It
                                       Filippa Scott   love it too.                                               reflects my love of all things vintage and suits so
                                                                                                                  many different styles of dresses
                                                       What can we expect from the new                               Lastly, from Hassall, Buttercup is a lovely
                                                       (2010) collection?                                         style, very unusual and perfect with lace or plain
                                                       Lots of beautiful new styles! It is always a               dresses. It can be tied with either an organza or
                                                       challenge to come up with something new and                chiffon bow, or the bride can choose her own,
                                                       amazing whilst working with a lot of ivory silk, but       making this a truly individual choice
                                                       we added in some really stunning new designs.
                                                       Plenty of retro styling with some slightly chunkier        What is your best selling shoe from the
                                                       heels this season, plenty of strapping and                 current collection. Why do you think this is?
                                                       some really lovely highlights of diamanté. We’ve           The new Couture collection is selling very well.
                                                       updated our ballerina style by putting her on a            Brides love the bling this year, and styles such
                                                       little kitten heel which I think will be really cute and   as Peto and Lacour are especially popular, with
                                                       we’ve added some serious glamour too.                      Swarovski crystal being very well received.

                                                                                                                  What can we expect from the new
Maisie by Filippa Scott                                Diane Hassall,                                             (2010) collection?
                                                       Designer,                                                  Lots more bling! The new collection will again be
Filippa Scott,                                         Rainbow Club                                               inspired by the catwalk, and eveningwear trends
Creative Director,                                     Tel: +44 (0)1392 207 040                                   as well as bridal will play their part. There will be
Filippa Scott                                          Web:                                 more fashion elements, with platform soles, floral
Tel: +44 (0)1502 724 333                                                                                          trims, and plenty of sparkle.
Web:                               What would you say are the top shoe trends
                                                       for 2009 in terms of shape, style and fabric,
What would you say the top shoe trends are             and what trends can we expect for 2010?                    Ruth Shaw,
for 2009 in terms of shape, style and fabric,          2009 sees lots of contemporary detail from                 Designer,
and what trends can we expect for 2010?                Swarovski crystal trims to bold buckles and                Harriet Wilde
Shoes have gone a little crazy in the last year with   pleats. Shoes have more detailing, and are an              Tel: +44 (0)207 682 2316
heels reaching skyscraper proportions. Fringeing,      integral part of the wedding outfit. Heels are              Web:
tassling, ruffles and over blown detailing mean         higher, with the fashionable conical heel making
that shoes are everything this season. There           several appearances. Toe shapes are varied                 What would you say the top shoe trends are
is no way you can be a shrinking violet in this        as the petite point continues to be popular                for 2009 in terms of shape, style and fabric,
season’s styles. Platforms, two tone, studding,        especially on lower heels, while the round toe is          and what trends can we expect for 2010?
wider straps, thinner straps, embellishment,           also in evidence. Peep toes are hugely popular,            Beginning with 2009, high heels and platforms
there is a style for everyone out there. Bridal        and skinny straps are a lovely way to make bridal          are the most popular constructions, while peep
shoes continue to be pretty and pretty important!      shoes reflect the catwalk. Asymmetric straps are            toes, round toes and points are popular toe
Diamantés, baubles, rusching and folding; there        especially new, reflecting the Grecian style seen           shapes. Ivory duchess satin is the fabric of
is a little bit of everything out there. The biggest   in many of the new bridal gowns.                           choice for Harriet’s brides, girls are asking for the
trend I’ve seen so far is the use of non bridal                                                                   shoes to be dyed to the colour of their gown,
shoes for your wedding outfit. Many of the stylists     What is your favourite shoe from the current               they are requesting an exact colour match.
have picked up on it and I am sure the trend will      collection and why?                                           Trends for 2010, court shoes are a key fashion
continue to grow particularly as there are SO            From Rainbow Club, the new Mia is such an                trend, more extreme platforms and sculpted
many amazing shoes out there currently.                elegant shape, and the asymmetric strap makes              heels, with an embellishment overload.
                                                                                                                                                            ATTIRE 61
                       Mable from Harriet Wilde        My favourite style from Benjamin Adams has             Shoes will continue to be very sculptural, with
                                                       to be Scarlet as it is such an elegant platform;       as much emphasis on heels and shapes as
                                                       I wore it recently to a ball and I felt so tall,       on the upper itself. Materials will be sleek, with
                                                       comfortable and cannot wait to wear them again!        pared down uppers and metallic influences.
                                                       It has also been a winner with our shorter brides!     These shapes will continue into 2010, but with
                                                          From Belle, my favourite has to be Moonstone;       new elements such as decorative surfaces,
                                                       this beautiful peep toe has a matching bag and is      embellishment and natural materials softening the
                                                       so versatile and is timeless in its design.            edge. Silhouettes will be very elegant, with an
                                                          My favourite Pink style has to be Pastel, a         emphasis on line and detailing. This will translate
                                                       simple slingback with a pointy toe. Whilst the pink    well into bridal, combined with elements of the
What is your favourite shoe from the current           collection is fashionable and fun I think this style   key trends.
collection and why?                                    has broad appeal to the whole bridal party.
My favourite, well I have to confess I have two,                                                              What is your favourite shoe from your current
Alex because I got married in these, so they have      What is your best selling shoe from the                collection and why?
great sentimental value. They were great as our        current collection. Why do you think this is?          That’s a tricky one! I have several favourites, for
wedding was outside and the wedge worked               The Winslet shoe from Benjamin Adams has               different reasons. One style I’m particularly fond
so much better than a heel, and Maud, I wore           proved particularly popular as this style really       of is Amelie, as it has such a 1920s feel, with
these for the party after the wedding, they offered    mirrors what is being seen on the red carpet. It       the classic Mary Jane style and button, but I love
glamour and went beautifully with my vintage           has sold well through the stores and will stay in      the simplicity of styles like Mimi and Rosa, which
‘Fifties’ gown.                                        the collection for 2010.                               demonstrate how my shoes can be worn just
                                                          From Belle, Moonstone, my favourite, is a           as easily with a pair of jeans as with a beautiful
What is your best selling shoe from the                best-seller as it has a great heel height, delicate    wedding dress!
current collection. Why do you think this is?          detail and is made from silk duchesse for only
Mable has been in great demand. Girls love the         £74.95 rrp.                                            What is your best selling shoe from your
net corsage flower and the platform; the shoes             The Pink best seller is Barbie, a fantastic high    current collection? Why do you think this is?
makes them feel glamorous.                             heeled platform with simple diamante buckle.           When we first launched there were a few clear
                                                       This is a wonderful, fashionable on-trend              bestsellers, but now we’re in a variety of stores
What can we expect from the new                        bridesmaid shoe.                                       we’re seeing good sales across the collection.
(2010) collection?                                                                                            I think because the collection isn’t defined by
Now that would be telling…court shoes with neat        What can we expect from the new                        either age or high fashion it appeals to a real
vintage points and an elegant Fifties stiletto heel,   (2010) collection?                                     cross section of women who all like different
dolly rounds toes, and more platforms are on the       2010 will be very exciting for our portfolio. We       footwear styles.
cards for Harriet’s designs. Embellishment is key,     love to include some real show stoppers which
with inspiration from Thirties Hollywood movie         push the boundaries for bridal footwear and we         What can we expect from the new (2010)
stars; think lavish pearls, diamonds, sparkly          continue to lead the field with innovative design       collection?
marine blue swarovski gems, and feathers, a girl       amongst the cobbling pack!                             The new autumn/winter collection has been
can’t have too much luxury.                                                                                   designed to compliment the current collection,
                                                        Scarlet from
                                                                                                              with a beautiful selection of closed toe styles
                                                        Benjamin Adams
                                                                                                              including an on-trend, Victorian style shoe-boot.
Nicola Newberry,                                                                                              The low-heel collection offers an elegant solution
Paradox London                                                                                                to girls who are taller than their partners, or those
Tel: +44 (0)208 509 0001                                                                                      who just don’t do heels! The round toe styles are
Web:                                                                                    soft and feminine on a selection of heel heights,
                                                                                                              and the lace styles compliment one of this
What would you say the top shoe trends are                                                                    season’s key trends perfectly! A
for 2009 in terms of shape, style and fabric,                                                                                    Rosa by
and what trends can we expect for 2010?                                                                                  Rachel Simpson
Paradox London boasts a stable of three bridal
footwear brands which are available worldwide:
Pink, Belle and Benjamin Adams. I would say the
top shoe trends for 2009 have been peep toes
across all three collections, especially with the      Rachel Simpson,
vintage and diamanté trims. The trends for 2010        Designer,
will feature platforms. The collections are all made   Rachel Simpson Ltd
from dyeable silk duchesse and satin and we will       Tel: +44 (0)121 428 2698
see stunning round toe shapes coming through           Web:
                                                                                                                                                       Amelie by
the Belle and Pink collections.
                                                                                                                                                       Rachel Simpson
                                                       What would you say the top shoe trends are
What is your favourite shoe from the current           for 2009 in terms of shape, style and fabric,
collection and why?                                    and what trends can we expect for 2010?

We speak to Canadian designer, Lea-Ann Belter, about her classic bridal collection
that is now finding its way into UK bridal retailers...
                                  Tell us a little about your background. What       In 2008 we opened our first retail account in
                                  prompted you move into bridal fashion?             London and they have done extremely well
                                  I studied fashion design in Toronto – my first      with our collection. Based on these factors
                                  real job after I graduated was to design my        we decided to show in Harrogate since we
                                  now sister-in-law’s wedding gown. That was         knew this was a market we wanted to grow
                                  20 years ago.                                      and we were very well received.

                                 When did you set up your company and how has        Would you say the British bridal market
                                 it evolved since this time?                         differs from the Canadian bridal market?
                                 I started Lea-Ann Belter in 1989; this is           I would say they are quite similar where
                                 my 20th year in business. My business has           my gowns are concerned. I like to focus
                                 evolved from a single room showroom to an           on simple, classic, elegant, romantic well
                                 international company with 40 plus accounts         constructed silk gowns so my appeal is
                                 in North America and Europe as well as a            to a classic bride with good taste – isn’t
successful flagship boutique in Toronto’s Queen Street East neighbourhood.            that universal?
I was named Canadian Wedding Gown Designer of the Year for 2007 so I
would say my business has evolved quite a bit!                                       How do you promote your business?
                                                                                     We have a fabulous website which
Would you say your dresses have a signature look i.e. what distinguishes each gown   is and we
as a ‘Lea-Ann Belter design’?                                                        also advertise in Martha Stewart
I like to think of my gowns as simply romantic. The details on my gowns are          Weddings (“THE” bridal magazine
understated and classic so that they accentuate the bride’s beauty. I like to        in North America, The Knot (print
design a gown that will have people talking about how beautiful the bride            and electronically), Wedding
looked – not just how beautiful the dress was.                                       Bells and several regional North
                                                                                     American publications. Our
Tell us a little about your current collection - how you would you describe it?      strongest advertising tool is by far
I would describe our current collection as classic, simple, elegant and saleable.    our website.
Our gowns are all 100% silk (including linings) cut and finished in our atelier
in Toronto. We do not manufacture off shore therefore we can guarantee the
quality and workmanship of each gown is up to my very high standards. We
can accommodate custom requests.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
I love being able to create gowns that help a bride’s dreams become reality.

What are your best-selling designs?
We have several best sellers and they change all the time – currently our top
five reorder gowns are Mathia, Isabella, Allison, Alyssa and Tess.

How often do you launch new lines?
Twice a year – a larger collection in the fall (10 to 12 gowns) and smaller
collection in the spring (6-8 gowns).

What prompted you to exhibit at the British Bridal Exhibition for the first time
and how did retailers in the UK respond to the collection?
We have always received a tremendous amount of interest from brides in the
UK mostly through our website but also from our print ads in North America.


How are you being affected by
the current economic climate (if
at all) and what steps are you
taking to minimise its impact?
I think everyone is being
affected by the current
economic climate. We have
not seen our business slow
down but we are sensitive to
our retail partners’ concerns
and for this reason have
designed gowns that are
beautiful, wearable and
saleable at a good value. It
is important to maintain
an open communication
with our retail partners so
that we can bring them
the gowns their brides
are looking for. We do
not discontinue gowns
so stores can sell from
their investment
indefinitely. As long
as we can get the
materials to make a
gown we will make it
– our partners do not
need to worry about
their investment
with us.

How many stockists do you
have in the UK? Is this stockist base something you are hoping to
grow and which other countries would you like to approach to stock your designs?
We are happy to say we now have three official stockists and are in
negotiations with several more. Yes, we absolutely want to grow our account
base in the UK and across Europe as well.

When did you first launch your website and who designed it? How does it support
your business?
We launched our website five years ago and it is constantly being updated and
reworked by Evoke Solutions in Toronto. Our website is instrumental to the
success of our business – we get well over 1000 hits per month many of which
translate into email inquiries. We list all of our retail partners on our website
and link our website to theirs so it is not only a marketing tool for us, it is also
a marketing tool for our partners.

What can we expect from your brand in 2009/2010?
Our collection will reflect what we do best as a company – beautiful, classic,
well constructed gowns that are easy to wear and easy to sell. A

  Further information
  To find out about becoming a stockist, send an email to Karen Lackner at

                                                                                         ATTIRE 65
The   Blossom Collection
             By Margaret Furber

A delightful new collection of beautiful hand made

    contact Margaret at

Clear Communication                                    Building good relationships with your staff, suppliers and customers
                                                       has never been as important as at this moment in time. Jane Watson
                                                       reveals why…

                                                       Suppliers                                               Brides
                                                                                                               Brides will be impressed by any efforts or
                                                       Suppliers will be looking for regular orders and        promotions you offer to make their visit to your
                                                       prompt payments.                                        showrooms memorable. Well presented showrooms
                                                          If you have a cash flow problem talk to your          will inspire confidence to the bride and her family.
                                                       suppliers and explain honestly what your situation      Perhaps offer a three tiered payment scheme (I
                                                       is and ask them how they can help you.                  believe any more than three payments you would
                                                          If you avoid answering the phone you will miss       need a credit license). A 50% deposit, the mid
                                                       customers wanting to make appointments and if           payment of 20%, then the balance when dress
                                                       you don’t return calls from suppliers this will cause   arrives at your premises. This may help your cash
                                                       a bad relationship.                                     flow and enable you to pay suppliers on time. If
                                                                                                               possible, offer out of hours appointments to secure
                                                       “Always try to visit the                                those important sales.
                                                       British Bridal Exhibition in                               When answering the phone “never say no”. If
                                                                                                               a bride-to-be asks if you have a certain designer’s
                                                       Harrogate (BBEH) in March                               dresses in stock always say you have dresses very
                                                       and September, and try to                               similar so at least you have a chance of seeing the
                                                                                                               bride and impressing her with your collections of
Staff will be nervous about the possibility of losing   plan your wedding fayres and                            dresses and service.
their employment; if you have good reliable staff,      promotions around these                                    Always answer your phone, even when you
don’t avoid the subject, talk about it and make                                                                are with a customer. You can’t afford to miss an
sure they are aware of their value and security        dates. It is so important to
                                                                                                               appointment to sell a bridal gown. If you don’t
within the company. Perhaps offer a commission          visit this show to keep up to                           answer the phone, the next shop will and they will
structured to increase sales, encouraging staff to
close the sale rather than letting the customer
                                                       date with the current trends                            make that appointment you have just missed. A

casually walk away.                                    and make contact with your                              “Answer your phone, even
   Spend as much time as possible in your              suppliers.”
showrooms as the business is only as good as you.
                                                                                                               when you are with a customer.
   Have staff training days to keep all your staff          Ask suppliers how they can help; for example,
                                                                                                               You can’t afford to miss an
well informed about your products.                     ask if a member of their company could attend           appointment to sell a gown. If
                                                       a designer day in your showrooms. Alternatively,        you don’t answer the phone,
“Brides will be impressed by                           see if they could offer a free wedding dress so you
                                                                                                               the next shop will and they will
                                                       could run a “free dress competition” for the Easter
any efforts or promotions you                          promotion within your showrooms.                        make that appointment you
offer to help make their visit to                         Always try to visit the British Bridal Exhibition
                                                                                                               have just missed.”
your showrooms memorable.                              in Harrogate (BBEH) in March and September,
                                                       and try to plan your wedding fayres and
Well presented showrooms                                                                                        Further information
                                                       promotions around these dates. It is so important
                                                                                                                To find out more, simply call Jane Watson on +44
will inspire confidence to the                          to visit this show to keep up to date with the
                                                                                                                (0)1256 766 744 or visit www.bridalbusiness.
                                                       current trends and make contact with your
bride and her family.”                                 suppliers.

                                                                                                                                                      ATTIRE 67
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• Adorable Boxes that every bride will want to keep her
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• Unrivalled quality
• Protect, preserve, prevent yellowing (pH neutral).*
• Handmade in the UK for 20 years
• Add prestige to your shop and customer services.
• Excellent trade discounts.
• Travel boxes for weddings abroad- very popular!

* If you supply gowns in plastic covers they are not suitable for
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    ISSUE 12
                                               Industry News Bridal Trends
    July/August 2009
    Available from: 26th June 2009                    Retailer Interview
    Advertising deadline: 12th June 2009
                                                                              ATTIRE 71
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                                                        The fabric of a great wedding…
                                                          …starts with a great dress

                  Help your bride choose the best fabrics      Place your order 24/7
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                  book is a beautifully presented collection   Order samples swatches or full orders
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                                                                                                                                                                       ATTIRE 73
Hair Flair                        Rosemary Fox, Managing Director of Fox Jewellery and Rosie Fox
                                  reveals what prompted her to launch a career in jewellery design…

                                   Tell us a little     Tell us a little about your current collection - how     How many stockists do you have in the UK? Is this
                                   about your           you would you describe it?                               something you are hoping to grow and would you
                                   background and       I am very excited about the new collection. I have       consider approaching stockists abroad?
                                   what prompted        worked hard to bring something new and original          We currently sell to hundreds of shops throughout
                                   you to set up your   to the fashion industry and, so far, we have had         the UK and Ireland. Yes, we are currently
                                   company?             an incredible response this season to our latest         considering expanding outside the UK.
                                   I have always        designs. We have lots of vintage, statement crystal
                                   had a passion for    and freshwater pearls designs, where many designs        How do you view the current market for bridal
jewellery and gem stones. I remember as a child         have three hidden attachments on the back and            accessories and what trends do you see emerging
loving all my grandmother’s and mother’s jewellery      can therefore be worn as a necklace, a brooch and a      over the coming months?
boxes and draping myself in whatever sparkled and       hair accessory.                                          I believe there will always be a strong demand
I could find.                                                                                                     for bridal accessories, though brides will now be
   At the age of 17 I qualified as one of Europe’s       What are your best-selling designs?                      looking for something special at a much more
youngest ever gemologists and was, therefore,           From the new vintage crystal collection, the three       affordable price.
qualified to test gemstones for their qualities and      in one accessories are selling incredibly fast as they      As was strongly displayed on the bridal catwalk
authenticity.                                           appeal to all ages and tastes.                           at the BBEH, crystal and vintage accessory designs
   I then followed my other passion for the next                                                                 will be very popular for the next few seasons.
three years at the London College of Fashion            How often do you launch new lines?
where I learnt all about the fashion industry.          I am always working on new designs and we bring          When did you launch your website and who
With these qualifications, determination and my          out new jewellery lines every two months.                designed it? How does it support your business?
passion for what I love about my business I have                                                                 I have been working with an ecommerce company
used my experiences and qualifications equally to        What prompted you to take a stand for the first           called EROL and I had an excellent web designer
help me create my dream business.                       time at the British Bridal Exhibition this March?        called Oliver West. My website definitely is a large
                                                        Word of mouth, I have heard some really                  part of supporting my business, not only with the
How has the product offering changed since the           complimentary reports about the show and felt            ecommerce option but also so customers can view
launch of the company?                                  this was a wonderful opportunity to show my new          the current collection online.
Fox Jewellery & Rosie Fox launched two and a half       designs to the bridal industry.
years ago and we now offer hundreds of jewellery                                                                  What can we expect from your brand in
lines each season, listening to what our customers      How did retailers respond to your collection and         2009/2010?
want and in response providing stylish on-trend         do you think you will continue to exhibit at trade       Fox Jewellery and Rosie Fox will be expanding
new designs.                                            shows in future?                                         their current collection to offer many new lines
   We specialise in hair accessories but we have        I have had a fantastic, positive response to my          of outstanding designs from hair accessories,
increased our new collection to include brooches,       collection and I am currently planning my diary          necklaces and brooches to breathtaking
necklaces, flower corsages and fascinators.              around next season’s trade show.                         fascinators…keep your eyes peeled to the catwalks
                                                                                                                 you’ll be seeing lots more incredible designs
What do you enjoy most about your role?                 Do you currently offer a bespoke, as well as              coming from us over these next few months! A
I love every part of my role as the Managing             wholesale service?
Director of Fox Jewellery and Rosie Fox. It is so       No, we do not provide bespoke as I like to provide
rewarding to create designs, receive orders and then    unique, high quality designs at very affordable            Further information
further receive emails from customers saying how        prices so I can see as many people as possible            To find out more, call +44 (0)845 465 0400 or
much they adore their new accessory and can they        enjoying our jewellery. We could not provide such a       visit
order some more.                                        strong collection at our prices if they were bespoke.

Hollywood Dreams
              Designer Bridal Gowns
                  25 Years O f Excellence
Gown ‘Roxy’

                      Enquiries: 020 8801 9797

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