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Trend: Millennials Go Mass Market—and Online—for Bridal Gowns

Wedding season is upon us, but many brides won’t be shopping the traditional gown sellers for their big day.

Quite a few brides—especially those of Millennial age—are turning to mass market retailers for their gowns, and they are buying them online.

“To those who say the purchase is too emotional to be transacted online, let’s face it, as consumers we’re getting increasingly comfortable with buying all sorts of everything online,” Katie Smith, senior fashion and retail market analyst at Edited, wrote in a post on Edited’s blog last week. “Lingerie has boomed in the last three years. We pick the vegetables we eat from stock images. And new technology like the Amazon Echo will only serve to further eradicate the barriers around the clothes we own and the clothes we browse.”

And more than opting to buy those ever-important dresses online, some of today’s Millennial brides are jumping off the luxury train and coming down to the mass market level for a find.

“We’ve heard it before, but let’s refresh: Millennials are in their own lane. They experience over own,” Smith said. “That logic applies to their weddings too; there’s a broader range of every kind of wedding experience happening.”

According to Edited, in the first quarter of 2016 the average price of a bridal gown or bridal party dress was $437.46, this Q1, that number came all the way down to $292.80.

Last year, H&M debuted a wedding dress for $99, and online-only Asos launched a bridal category where gowns are priced between $150 and $474.

Asos is acing mass-market bridal for the time being—the company grew its assortment by 10.5 percent in a year. The average Asos bridal gown is $196.25, 340 percent more than the average price across the rest of its dresses. Sell through on the dresses is 55 percent and 13 percent of the styles are replenished, and this compared to 31.5 percent sell throughs and 11 percent replenishment in its general dress category, according to Edited.

Last month Topshop also ventured into bridal. Prices on the four styles available in Topshop Bride range from $650 to $850.

Some of these mass market moves, according to Smith, could have something to do with J.Crew.

“J.Crew’s decision to stop stocking bridal altogether may have ruffled the premium market; a look at last year’s bridal shows it ended up discounting by an average of 62 percent off,” Smith said.

The mass market can benefit from bridal beyond just the gowns, too.

Though H&M started with one gown, they’ve branched into offering bridal lingerie. And since dresses only account for 21 percent of the wedding assortment (accessories account for 54 percent and lingerie 9 percent), it’s a wise move for the fast fashion purveyor.

“That makes perfect sense for the Millennial shopper,” Smith said. “It’s the one category that won’t feature any social content—except perhaps for the most unabashed of sharers—and therefore might not get top ranking in a budget designed around creating digital memories.”

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