In VOWS magazine's continuing series of Q&A interviews with industry brands, we reached out to Steve Lang, CEO, Mon Cheri Bridals, for his perspective on the current state of the industry, and his optimistic view of the future. 


VOWS: How would you describe the impact Covid-19 is having on bridal and special occasion design?

Lang: Covid has not changed our design direction for any division - bridals, mother of the bride/groom, social occasion, Quinceanera, prom, kids - other than to be price sensitive on some selected styles to address areas where the economy may take longer to jump start.  Our primary focus is on value and beauty more so than on sheer price.  Low price alone as a motivating factor may sell sometimes, but in our industry for these special occasions, we want the customers to see fashion and beauty first befitting their special events and price secondarily. We are concentrating on new looks and fabrics first and foremost.

VOWS: What trends have you identified, and are addressing in Mon Cheri's 2021 collections?

Lang: We are focused on sexy and romantic looks across our bridal categories utilizing extraordinary laces and treatments. The designers looked for the best ingredients before even contemplating cooking a meal of incredible fashion, and that is the finest materials and treatments.

For our social occasion lines we have scoured the country, Europe and Asia looking for unique materials to separate our gowns from each other and from those of our competition.  We have used the downtime from Covid-19 to find new material sources around the globe, discovering fresh and exciting new ways to produce cutting-edge designs. Our goal is to impress our retailers and enable them to excite their customers in turn. “New and exciting” is the watchword; if you want people to invest in your creations they must be able to look at your product and be totally impressed. They must achieve a solid return on their investment and unexciting designs will not deliver the profit they need.

VOWS: What aspects of today's bridal, prom and special occasion customer should store owners be particularly aware of?

Lang: Return on investment is not achieved merely by buying inventory. One must have a solid command of social media and have a method to measure success on multiple fronts of successful retailing in our industry. This is the reason we hope retailers will join our panel of experts included in Mon Cheri Academy each month that concentrate on all the disciplines that can make us all more successful.

VOWS: How has Covid-19 impacted the operation side of Mon Cheri... and what's your strategy for dealing with a potential long-term disruption?

Lang: We are investing in technology tremendously.  We are installing a state-of-the-art ERP system (Enterprise Resource Planning Program) that will better serve our retailers and our employees. This robust computer system will deliver answers faster and more accurately 24/7. This will allow customers to remain in contact with us around the clock and allow our employees greater tools to work from home if necessary.

VOWS: What do you see as the most critical areas for our industry to concentrate on for today...and long term?

Lang: The most important drill that Covid-19 forced every industry and every business owner to endure is to ask the question as to how prepared one was to handle a worldwide disaster.  I could write pages about this but in summary one must cut out the fat and learn to become more efficient and productive.  This has been our mantra since the spring and we are analyzing every decision and opportunity with a new tools designed to make us a better firm.

VOWS: How has Mon Cheri responded to this pandemic-caused disruption... and will these programs extend into 2021?

Lang: We are investing in technology as explained above, and we have instructed our sales teams around the globe to be as helpful and understanding with each retailer as possible. We will all get through this difficult period if we are fair to each other and if we all do our best. I want to be a solid supplier long term and we are investing in the future in technology, design and education.

VOWS: What is your forecast for the bridal and formal industry for Spring 2021 and beyond?

Lang: I believe that we will see increases in business in 2021 as we gain treatments for Covid-19. All families want to get back to the normalcy we all crave. The lifetime occasions we service will not disappear; they are only temporarily delayed. Now is the time to improve our collective performance, to reach for new highs in how we conduct our businesses and to have faith that our beloved industry will get back to normal.

VOWS: Do you think there are positives aspects for our industry that have come about due to COVID-19...
and if so, what are they?

Lang: As I said above, the epidemic has forced all of us out of our comfort zones and into a frenzy of confusion, loss and pain. L Americans have always taken in all challenges and turned lemons into lemonade. We will do this once again and learn how prepare for terrible things out of our control. This must be the lesson of Covid: to react, to learn and to eventually overcome and prosper. I will use these lessons to protect my company, my customers and my family and friends.


Martin Thornburg