Undercurrents to Watch For in 2017

As we close out 2016, there are a number of undercurrents that should break the surface in the coming season and year, as we all deal with a changing marketplace.

   Among them:

      – Based on Spring 2017 collections, designers and manufacturers are focusing on different market segments to appeal to a more diverse and price-sensitive customer, including couture designers releasing bridge collections priced for that $3,000-$5,000 bride; established lines promoting collections for the $800-$1,100 bride; and a renewed approach of appropriately styled and fabricated collections for the plus-size bride.

   – Continued dialogue between apparel/accessory manufacturers and regional markets regarding formats, timing and programs, a discussion driven in part by the generally soft markets of this past season.

   – A shifting Internet space as companies such as J. Crew abandon their bridal and bridesmaids retail effort, both online and with store closings; WeddingtonWay.com dropping all bridesmaids labels to promote its own line of dresses;

      – An emerging trend of online retailers opening physical stores that seems to indicate that in a multichannel world, a physical location can be a competitive advantage (and which also suggests a long-term role in retail for brick-and-click retailers). Just two examples at opposite extremes: Vowtobechic.com opening a physical location, and Amazon’s announcement of the expansion of its retail store with a target of 100 pop-up stores in malls across America.

      – Major retailers, across categories and price points, are revamping their stores to better compete with online sources by creating experiences above expectation. Perfect example: Apple’s revamping its stores to create destinations for more than electronic gadgets.

      – The continuing two-prong efforts of the ABPIA (American Bridal and Prom Industry Association) in its anti-counterfeiting efforts, which to date has successfully resulted in taking down or disabling 5,000+ websites (the equivalent of almost 10 million pages), as it raises this issue before Congress and lobbies for significant changes at the federal level. And very significant: the ABPIA has been successful in its efforts to get Google to prevent counterfeiters from utilizing Ad Words to promote their sites.

      And lastly, but as important as all these other points, it was your responses to our recent VOWS survey that enabled us to further refine our editorial direction for 2017, specifically by pursuing and presenting topics of primary concern (some of which are only touched on by the above list).

      In general I’m optimistic for 2017 and beyond, for a number of reasons, as I see most of these undercurrents affecting positive change for us all.

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