EUROPEAN BRIDAL WEEK DECLARED A TRIUMPH
Within hours of opening up the doors at Messe Essen to the very first live international bridal exhibition of 2020, exhibitors and show visitors alike were in celebratory moods. For the past four months the bridal industry, as so many others, has stagnated during lockdown. Designers have been unable to see their customers and present their collections, retailers have been forced to roll down the shutters on business, and brides have had no option other than to postpone their wedding date – many until 2021.
With shows across the world on hold and then cancelled, the outlook has been grim. Many big brands went ‘virtual’, capturing their ranges on film and using social media platforms to keep their name alive. Smaller labels, without substantial marketing budgets, struggled to stay in contact with their customers and their suppliers. And retailers everywhere have lived in fear for the future of their business.
All that changed today, when European Bridal Week launched its three-day show in Essen, many months later than originally planned. With more than 380 labels proudly on display and many hundreds of retailers approaching the buying opportunities with a new-found enthusiasm, there is a sense that the next chapter will be infinitely better and more appreciated than anything before.
“It is amazing how quickly you can put the problems of recent months behind you,” said one shop owner from Munich. “Being here is dazzling. Seeing all things new is inspiring. Meeting colleagues and friends you have not had dealings with for an entire season is exhilarating. It’s like coming out of the grey and into the sparkle. The restrictions that have necessarily been applied to ensure everyone’s safety are something we are already used to, so it’s no big deal and they certainly do not remove the sheer joy of feeling that you are back in business.”
The exuberant atmosphere at the show says so much about the bridal industry itself and its ability to turn negatives to positives and pessimism to optimism and to move onto the next stage of its development. This is encouraged in no small way by renewed enthusiasm from brides themselves who now want to find their dream dress.
And at European Bridal Weed there are plenty to discover. Collections that had only been seen on video on zoom presentations, are there in all their splendour, so the cut of a neckline, the flow of a train, the movement in a skirt, the intricacy of detail are live and luscious in close up.
Throughout the first day of this major event – one that is expecting to attracting many thousands of buyers with budgets to spend – discussions of the events of recent months fading into the background to be replaced with serious shop talk and trend analysis.
Event Director Siegrid Hampsink said: “Until the doors to the show actually opened, I was nervous to see what reactions we would get, what numbers we would pull in. I am thrilled – this looks like being an amazing event and proof that despite the huge challenges we have all been facing, those in bridal are determined to succeed and moved forward.”