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Gap Taps into Bridalwear Business with New Acquisition

Gap is taking over a popular wedding shopping platform.

The American retailer acquired San Francisco-based Weddington Way on Dec. 5., marking Gap’s first move into the bridalwear business. Transaction deals remained private and the deal will not have a material impact on Gap’s FY 2016 earnings.

In 2012, CEO Ilana Stern established Weddington Way to address issues with the bridesmaid shopping process.

“I loved the mission of making something that had become a burden for brides, back into an enjoyable experience,” Stern said.

Geared toward the Millennial bride, Weddington Way provides geographically dispersed bridal parties with a virtual gown showroom. Bridesmaids can interact with Weddington Way’s dress assortment together, without leaving their desired locations.

Weddington Way’s dresses are designed and manufactured in-house, providing a unique edge to each garment and fostering a more sustainable supply chain.

First, designs are sketched to provide consumers with alternative bridalwear options. Dress materials are hand-selected and incorporated into an ethical production process to ensure proper quality and fit. Without “wedding markup,” consumers are valued in the design process and have the ability to virtually try on styles for their big wedding days, the company notes. More than 500 bridesmaid dresses from sizes 0 to 30 are available in a range of colors and styles on Weddington Way’s website.

To give back to the community, Weddington Way also partnered with The Princess Project, an organization that provides poverty-stricken teens with free prom dresses. Consumers may send their gently used cocktail dresses to Weddington Way’s headquarters and receive a gift certificate for their donations.

Gap’s Weddington Way acquisition follows the recent termination of J. Crew’s bridal collection. In November, J. Crew said it would no longer sell gowns or bridesmaid dresses in order to focus on its other apparel merchandise. J. Crew’s exit from the bridal business came in the midst of the retailer’s sluggish third quarter earnings, where total revenues decreased 4 percent to $593.2 million and sales fell 7 percent to $488 million.

As traditional brick-and-mortar companies struggle to boost sales, many retailers, including Gap, are pursuing other apparel divisions, like bridalwear, to stay at the top of their game and fulfill new consumer demands.