Here Come the Bridal Designers

High-end bridal designers who got their start specializing in wedding dresses, and remain well known for their creations in this space, have been expanding their licensing activity recently. Some are poised to get into licensing and collaboration in a significant way for the first time, while others are adding to a long list of existing licensees. Many of the recent deals remain connected to the wedding space, while others go beyond that into products for everyday use:

  • Pnina Tornai, known for her signature corset dress designs and dramatic style statements, last month signed Brandgenuity as her representative for licensing, in partnership with her talent representative A3 Artist Agency. She is one of Kleinfeld Bridal’s exclusive designers and is known for her appearances on Say Yes to the Dress, the TLC reality series that takes place in the Kleinfeld store. The plan is to expand into a complete line of wedding-related products and services, including bridal party fashions, footwear, lingerie, flowers, invitations, and experiences.
  • Monique Lhuillier launched a luxury wedding invitation collection on September 30 with Paper Source, consisting of 12 exclusive invitation suites with features such as custom wax seals, vellum lace overlays, watercolor greenery and florals, and shimmer ribbons, inspired by the designer’s printed bridal gowns. Over the years Lhuillier has expanded into ready-to-wear and accessories and has launched a range of licensed products. The latest expansion of her home goods license with Pottery Barn—which began in 2017 and covers categories ranging from registry gifts to everyday furnishings and décor—is with PBTeen, introduced this past July; she has created multiple collections for the flagship Pottery Barn brand and PBKids. Some of her other licensees include The Premiere Group for fragrances and color cosmetics (with the first products launched in February 2020), Helzberg Diamonds for engagement rings, and The Bouqs Company for wedding flowers.
  • Reem Acra established Reem Acra Licensing LLC in January 2020, according to the New York Department of State Division of Corporations database, suggesting she is planning to expand her brand further, although no public announcements have been made. Her licensing activity has been relatively limited to date. She collaborated with Essie in 2018 for a limited-edition collection of wedding nail polish in six colors, and with Joseph Abboud in 2019 to add groom’s and male attendants’ items to her runway show for the first time.
  • Vera Wang’s most recent collaboration was with Starbucks in March 2020, for a limited-edition line of tumblers, mugs, tote bags, and Starbucks cards for the Asian market. Her brand got its start when she set out as an independent bridal designer, after a few years in fashion media and as an employee of Ralph Lauren. She has since expanded into a wide variety of categories, often through licensing, with many of her deals in place for 10 years or more. Several of her agreements in major categories are with retailers, including Kohl’s for apparel and accessories, David’s Bridal for wedding dresses and related products, Men’s Wearhouse for tuxedos, and Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group and Signet (owner of Jared, Kay, and Zales), both for jewelry. A sampling of her other licensees includes Revman International for bedding and linens, Kenmark for eyeware, Coty for fragrances, FTD Group for flowers, Crane for invitations, Wedgwood for dinnerware and gifts, and Levy Group for dresses. She has also done limited-edition collaborations, such as with Parisian patisserie Ladurée for luxury wedding cakes and macarons and with Fitbit for a three-piece electronic wearables collection.
  • Elie Saab, who began his career specializing in bridal couture, has been expanding his licensing portfolio in the last 12 months. In July, his label added the Onward Luxury Group (OLG) as its licensee for footwear and leather goods (OLG has produced Saab’s ready-to-wear collection for about a year); in January he launched a children’s line including apparel from Simonetta and footwear from Andrea Montelpare; in December 2019 he paired with Corporate Brand Maison (CBM) for furniture and home décor. Other licensees include Safilo for eyewear and Shiseido for fragrances. Last spring, he partnered with Emaar to develop interiors for a luxury beachfront residential development in Dubai.

A number of other designers known for their wedding dresses, along with ready-to-wear apparel and other categories, also are active in licensing and collaboration, including Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, and Jenny Packham. David Tutera, a wedding planner, is also involved in bridal design, with a wedding dress collection with Mon Cheri. He also has several other licensing relationships.

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