Gap Inc exits bridal with Weddington Way closures, online future unclear
Many retail chains may be moving into the bridal sector at the moment as they offer more affordable and on-trend wedding fashion, but Gap Inc is actually backing out of the market.
The company said that its Weddington Way brand, which operates a limited number of shops inside its US Banana Republic stores, is to close over the next few months and there is uncertainty too about how long the brand might survive online.
The Weddington Way website has a statement on its home page saying it’s “in transition” and that while the shops will close "we hope that Weddington Way will continue to serve you through our website indefinitely, but at this point we can only guarantee orders made through June 11.”
The brand was launched as a bridesmaid specialist in 2011 and Gap acquired it in 2016. While it has sold around half a million bridesmaid dresses, it hasn't made a big enough impact on Gap Inc’s bottom line. And with visitor traffic to Banana Republic stores dropping in recent years, that hasn't helped either.
While the brand hadn’t dived into the wedding dress area as many others labels have done in recent months, its store closures certainly reflect volatile times for bridalwear in the US market.
While overall wedding spend is rising in the US (the average wedding cost is $36,000 according to a recent survey) much of that increased spend is about providing unique guest experiences and also an unforgettable honeymoon, rather than spending more heavily on what to wear on the day. And with fewer young couples getting married, the overall industry is much more competitive these days.
J Crew closed its own wedding dress business two years ago and specialist chain David’s Bridal has struggled.
Yet in some markets the bridal category has proved to be a lucrative extension to the fashion offer for a Number of chains. In Europe, for instance, retailers including Topshop, Whistles, Lipsy, H&M and Quiz have all launched wedding-specific collections and seem committed to the sector.
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