Emily Thungkaew

Something old, something new…

By - Feb 12th, 2011 04:00 am
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Floral print dress by Parchment for Bhldn. All photos courtesy Bhldn/Urban Outfitters, Inc.

On Feb. 14 (yes, Valentine’s Day!), Urban Outfitters, Inc. will launch their first bridal collection. Take a moment for the little girl inside of you to squeal with joy.

“Bhldn” (that’s “Beholden”, sans vowels) promises of a unique line of bridal apparel, accessories, shoes and lingerie will be sold online until their first store opens, expected this August. Plans are in the works to launch two or three more retail stores by 2012.

Pleated Fantasy Gown by Cement for Bhldn.

But what bride to be in her right mind would buy a big-ticket item like a wedding dress without  first trying in on? Bhldn understands customers’ needs to touch, feel and fall in love with their dress, and will offer free shipping and returning to their online customers so that brides can try out the gowns without pressure.

Building a style similar to sister line, Anthropologie, Bhldn hopes to become a wedding destination for brides. With its February launch, customers will be able to email stylists with questions and get an individualized response. Eventually, the team plans to evolve the site into a resource for event planning with advice on details like photographers, caterers and florists.

The line will also feature special occasion dresses with shorter cuts and a more colorful palette, perfect for bridesmaids dresses (that your friends will actually want to wear).

There are few photos available online until the full line is launched on Monday, but from what I’ve seen, the looks seem vintage-inspired with soft delicate touches of ruffles, feathers or ribbons here and there. Cuts vary with unique one-shoulder tops to knee-high skirts — a slight deviation from more traditional styles, but with a sort of whimsy you’ll be hard pressed to find at the average bridal shop.

Though the company’s demographic is courting a more sophisticated 30-something woman, there is surely something for a girl of any age to enjoy.

“We’re confident that we’re filling in space that no one’s filling in,” Managing Director, Kristin Norris told Women’s Wear Daily. “We’re offering a take that’s not out there. We have a lot of shorter dresses, lots of color and prints and no optic white dresses. Traditionally, people got married in churches. Now, they’re getting married on beaches and mountain tops. We’re building our assortment for the ultimate end use.”

Prices for wedding gowns range from $1000 to $4000 and special occasion dresses and accessories from $200-$400. Even though stores like Anthropologie or Urban Outfitters don’t immediately spring to mind when the newly-engaged start dress shopping, I think this line is a smart move. The price range is definitely not for those on a tight budget, but I think it can evolve into a serious contender in a landscape dominated by David’s Bridal.

Norris was right — couples nowadays opt for less traditional ceremonies in favor of injecting more character into the event. Bhldn helps brides find a dress that compliments their personal style, and offers them an intriguing alternative to the typical white, lacy dress — helping to make their “special day” truly unique.

Make sure you check out the full site on Monday, Feb 14 at www.bhldn.com.

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