Barcelona claims to be the European capital of bridal fashion

Barcelona claims to be the European capital of bridal fashion

Published on


May 15 2024

Once relegated to a niche category of the industry, bridal fashion is making decisive progress in its leap towards the front line of the sector. Gone is the blow of the pandemic that left an industry mainly dependent on physical events and built around a single season shaken, bridal fashion is now entering a time of reinventing itself. A period of change in which designers and brands demonstrate flexibility, looking at new markets, creating for different types of weddings and brides, expanding styles and blurring the boundaries between bridal, ready-to-wear, red carpets or sewing. Bridal wants to be treated as fashion with capital letters, while fashion flirts with the succulent bride market and society dismantles the classic clichés of weddings.

BBFW

Coinciding with the Barcelona bridal fashion event, the Marseille women’s fashion designer and Instagram icon, Jacquemus, launched his first bridal collection, faithful to his casual and contemporary style. For her part, the singer Taylor Swift published the first video clip of her long-awaited latest album dressed in a romantic and draped wedding dress by the Australian brand Toni Matičevski. It was not the first time that the influential artist allowed herself to be seduced by the bridal universe. The voluptuous designs of the Taiwanese brand Nicole + Felicia are some of the essentials in her wardrobe. And without going any further, the recently held Met Gala featured a good handful of bridal-inspired dresses on its red carpet: from the romantic Loewe look worn by Ariana Grande to Sienna Miller’s bohemian dress signed by Chemena Kamali for Chloé, to Oscar de la Renta’s suggestive design for Kylie Jenner Alaïa by Vittoria Ceretti. Media attention for bridal designs is guaranteed.

An edition of record numbers

When it comes to checking whether bridal fashion is more fashionable than ever, what better destination than Barcelona? Between April 17 and 21, the Fira de Barcelona venue hosted a new edition of the Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week. An appointment with the sector that ended with 37 companies present at their shows, in which more than 900 dresses were presented; as well as with 400 participating brands in its commercial hall.

In the midst of internationalization, 80% of these firms came from abroad, while 81% of the strategic buyers invited by the organization came from 50 countries, highlighting key markets such as Europe, the United States, Japan, Korea South, Latin America, Southeast Asia and, as a novelty for this edition, Australia. For its part, attendance grew by 7% compared to last year, reaching 23,000 visitors (among whom there were more than 4,200 buyers).

Giambattista Valli – Spring-Summer2025 – Wedding – Spain – Barcelona – ©Launchmetrics/spotlight

Interest in this market is on the rise. According to data published in the “Essential Book of Weddings”, carried out by Esade professor Carles Torrecilla and Google, the number of searches about weddings reflected a year-on-year growth of 23% between 2019 and 2022, confirming the recovery of the market after Covid -19. Although competition has decreased due to the end of brands that were unable to overcome the pandemic, the sector benefited from the impact of postponed weddings. Of the more than 1,400 companies in the bridal sector (not just fashion, ed.) surveyed, a third grew more than 10% in turnover, 24% grew by 5%; while 40% maintain stable sales and 7% decrease.

Likewise, although the seasonality of weddings is also reflected in the volume of queries, the search engine data reflects that user interest is growing throughout the year, so brands must adapt their strategies to reinforce its presence over a longer period of time.

Beyond the evolution of the profile of the couple, with a marked increase in the average age that is around thirty or the presence of previous children (in up to 30% of cases), the study reflects that the characteristics of the wedding dress also evolve and customization becomes a key element when choosing the design. In Spain, the average cost of a wedding dress and its accessories rises to 2,150 euros.

Bridal fashion can also be Haute Couture

If in previous editions the responsibility of elevating the positioning of the event towards an international couture league fell to renowned brands such as Marchesa, Viktor&Rolf or Elie Saab, on this occasion, the highlight was provided by the Italian couturier Giambattista Valli. “The fact that these types of designers participate is a clear message that we also make fashion here. Proposing consolidated sewing brands means that we also propose that aspirational part, which can coexist with the participation of mass market bridal brands. They respond to different targets,” Albasarí Caro declared with conviction.

Yolancris – Spring-Summer2025 – Wedding – Spain – Barcelona – ©Launchmetrics/spotlight

Protagonist of the Barcelona Bridal Night, the designer signed his first bridal show with a show of 30 bridal designs faithful to his exquisite needle. However, in an interview with FashionNetwork.com, Giambattista Valli noted: “I didn’t want to keep the wedding dress as an elitist corner just for Haute Couture, but to share it with a broader group. I understand it as a way to transcribe my DNA of excellence in a much more accessible way.”

Regarding the role of Barcelona Bridal Week in the global catwalk scene, he added that the event “has managed to position itself as a leading international event. In Europe, it is the most important bridal event. And in the world, it is at the top”, stressing that the reactions of the commercial agents were “amazing”.

Despite being the big international name, it was not the only big signing on the agenda of the event. Without going any further, the trade fair dedicated a showroom area to high-end foreign proposals from Tony Ward, Elie Saab, Viktor&Rolf, Stephane Rolland, Ines di Santo, Jenny Packman and Georges Hobeika. On a national level, luxury craftsmanship focused on international deployment was also present in the Barcelona-based YolanCris and the Valencian Isabel Sanchís, two of the heavyweights of the Spanish wedding industry.

“We have not stopped working on the fair, which has been making efforts for years to attract the Asian market,” said Paula Maiques, designer of the Levantine brand, positively, celebrating the increase in North American buyers. For her part, María Díaz, co-founder of Marco & Maria, celebrated the centralized nature of the professional event and the possibilities of attracting clients among visitors. “In New York, for example, everything is more dispersed between showrooms, hotels… Here the atmosphere is different, sales solidarity and support,” she argued, revealing the boom in sales of the Canarian firm in international markets, highlighting Korea. “Seoul has become the new Paris,” she said with a smile.

Marco & Maria – Spring-Summer2025 – Wedding – Spain – Barcelona – ©Launchmetrics/spotlight

Although this edition was marked by the absence of Rosa Clará, one of the most powerful Barcelona companies in the sector; Pronovias managed to capture much of the media interest thanks to its 60th anniversary show. A show in which the brand presented its change of image and creative direction, abandoning the exuberant bridal style to give way to a more minimalist and artistic aesthetic; as well as the first coup of its new CEO, the former leader of Tendam and Desigual, Marc Calabia.

“We have to be much more contemporary in the way we present our values. “Not only do we want to continue being the global leading brand in the sector, but we aspire to be the benchmark,” said the leader about the renewed proposal, unveiled during a “disruptive, artistic and innovative” fashion show, held at the National Museum of Art of Catalonia. (MNAC) before more than 700 guests.

Precisely to respond to the demand of today’s clients, the sustainable and “made in Spain” Bilbao brand Sophie et Voilà, launched three collections ago, a specific ready-to-wear line that is currently marketed through from the American luxury e-commerce giant, Moda Operandi. For its creative director and founder, Sofia Arribas, it is a logical process towards fluidity, “just as many classic fashion brands enter the bridal sector.” Asos, & Other Stories, H&M or Reformation or Sézane are some examples of players that have recently introduced bridal collections in their offers.

Sophie Et Voila – Spring-Summer2025 – Wedding – Spain – Barcelona – ©Launchmetrics/spotlight

For their part, other fast fashion giants flirt more discreetly with event and ceremonial fashion, occasionally marketing adapted outfits without launching into a new category per se. In Spain alone, despite the fact that these proposals are very residual compared to the complete fashion offering of the brands, they account for up to 7% of wedding dress purchases (while 78% of clients choose to go to stores specialized or 11% in entrusting the dress to a designer). In the case of men, up to 20% choose clothing stores, compared to 52% who prefer specialized boutiques, 16% go to a tailor and 6% to a designer.

Launched in 2023 with the aim of providing recognition, visibility and internationalization to companies in the sector, the Barcelona Bridal & Fashion Awards put the finishing touch on the closing night of the event, awarding prominent names in the industry such as Pronovias, Pnina Tornai, Sophie et Voilà, Mans, Jenny Packham, Yolancris or Vera Wang. The next edition of Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week already has its dates marked on the calendar: April 23 to 27, 2025.

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