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Bridal Fabric Trends Shift as Consumers Seek New Twists on Classics

The era of apparel customization has made its way into the most traditional of fashion sectors: the bridal dress.

This personal and nontraditional touch can’t be achieved without the fabric, and designers and brides are stretching the boundaries in materials usage to achieve the desired result.

According to The Knot 2018 Wedding Attire Study, today’s wedding day fashion choices tend to be reflective of people’s personalities and style, and this means more wedding gowns and bridal party dresses incorporate pops of color or hints of cultural heritage with special details.

The study revealed that the fit-and-flare silhouette and lace fabric are top choices for today’s betrothed. Respondents said while the bridal runways are seeing more extravagant textures and materials, lace continues to be the most popular fabric choice for brides, with 35 percent choosing it as their primary fabric, up from 25 percent in 2011, followed by tulle at 15 percent, and chiffon and satin at 9 percent.

Wedding party attire is another big fashion choice, with 43 percent of bridesmaids in 2018 reporting wearing different styles of gowns in the same color. The most popular color palettes for bridesmaid gowns in 2018 included burgundy/wine, navy/dark blue, blush and light blue.

“The clean and minimal wedding dress that Meghan Markel donned back in May 2018 is still inspiring bridal collections today,” Edited retail analyst Avery Faigen told Sourcing Journal. “Designers chose satin to achieve this aesthetic in their Spring 2020 bridal shows. Reem Acra used this fabric for voluminous full skirts and mini length dresses, while Lela Rose applied it to column-shaped gowns. By incorporating few, if any, design details and focusing on this essential fabric, designers were able to accomplish a minimal and elegant look. Taking this aesthetic one step further, designers such as Morilee and Amsale combined satin with lace to add a little drama.”

In line with the festival season influencing the fashion industry, Faigen said many designers used lace to invoke this theme in their Spring 2020 bridal wear. Watters incorporated lace in exaggerated sleeves and off-the-shoulder silhouettes. Berta and Ines di Santo also used lace “as an element of texture and dimension,” she said.

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“Tulle is another staple fabric among bridal gowns, designed in head-to-toe looks by Watters and barely-there dresses by Mira Zwillinger,” Faigen added. “This fabric is versatile, used by several designers to create volume for ballgowns, as well as enhancing a bride’s figure in form-fitting silhouettes. In contrast, non-traditional bridal looks are increasing in popularity, and designers like Phuong My and Watters favored tulle to construct these styles.”

Sharon Graubard, founder and creative director of MintModa, said many nontraditional bridal fabrics are being used by today’s designers, while classic fabrics are being used in new ways.

“There’s a change in the attitude toward bridal,” Graubard said. “Instead of many fittings for one dress, there’s a shift toward multiple pieces because the bride changes out of her dress for the party or the rehearsal dinner or the morning after, so there’s much more of a wardrobing point of view. The other change in the point of view is clothes that you can wear again. So, there’s much more of a ready-to-wear attitude and that’s reflected in the fabric choices.”

Among the top fabrics being used are Duchess satin, Chantilly lace and silk gazar, but cut more into a ready-to-wear shape or even trousers or blazers, Graubard noted. Less traditional fabrics, like cashmere knits for jackets or shrugs, and dimensional jacquards in floral or vine motifs are also showing up in runways collections.

Even more edgy is the use of Lurex, sequins and sparkle in the fabrics and as trims, as well as feathers and plisse for pleated or puckered looks.

“Tulle is still key, but it’s being used in new ways,” Graubard said. “There’s a kind of romantic tulle overlay or bow and sashes that’s also showing up. Dotted Swiss, which hasn’t been in fashion for a while, and velvet are also being used.”

David’s Bridal wrote in a recent blog post that it’s introducing gowns made with lace, “your quintessential bridal fabric, but laser cut and extra eye-catching.”

“Intricate lace patterns are all over our Fall 2019 Galina Signature collection and the result is a little classic and a lot sultry, especially when paired with form-fitting silhouettes,” the post said. “The other type of lace we are swooning over this season is inspired by varying patterns of natural wildflowers. Leafy vines and soft florals bloom all over these Melissa Sweet gowns. Layers of tulle and illusion necklines complete the airy, ethereal feel of these wildflower lace wedding dresses.”