A custom wedding dress is a luxury. Normally, the designer and bride-to-be work together to create a unique look that not only fits the bride’s taste but it’s also made to measure. And it usually comes at a high price, making the dreamy experience an exclusive one.
But designer Manon Martin is not interested in this exclusionary practice. Instead, she’s relying on technology and a direct-to-consumer model to make custom bridal looks more accessible with her new line, Les Aimants. “While fashion trends have evolved, the conventional approach to wedding dress shopping has largely remained unchanged,” she tells Refinery29. “We set out to create a platform where customers can digitally customize their wedding dresses, choosing from an array of tops, skirts, fabrics, and details to create something uniquely their own.”
Brides hoping to work with Les Aimants have two options: visit the New York showroom or explore their digital site. The latter is key to the brand’s innovation. “I was captivated by the potential to bring technology to an industry that annually touches the lives of 140 million women,” says Martin, who is a former 3D technical engineer that has worked with manufacturing and supply chain logistics. Martin has been developing a 3D-scanning technology that allows brides to take photos at home with a phone or tablet, which then take body measurements that are, according to Martin, are “as accurate as manual measuring tape.”
Additionally, brides can play the mix-and-match game with available styles to customize their wedding look. “You can use our wedding dress configurator to experiment with hundreds of shapes, materials, and styles,” she says, adding that there’s also an option to try on available samples at the brand’s showroom, and in 2024, they’ll start offering a shipping service for an at-home try-on experience.
Martin’s strategy is in line with a broader phenomenon in the bridal industry. For starters, the pandemic shifted what people consider as bridal fashion, disrupting the traditional dresses with styles that fit a bride’s personal style. There was also a big transition from large wedding celebrations to micro-weddings and elopements, while for those who still wish to have a traditional wedding, the span of activities — from bachelorette trips and rehearsal dinners to day-after brunch — continues to expand even more. On the style front, this means that brides need nuptial outfits that go beyond the altar, which has resulted in trends like feathers, latex, cut-outs, and black wedding dresses. But there’s also a shift in the wedding dress shopping experience. While Say Yes To The Dress-style shopping ventures were once the standard, brides are favoring ready-to-wear brands available online, as well as shorter production timelines (the standard is usually four to eight months for a dress to be made and shipped).
This is why Martin established a clear mission for Les Aimants: custom made-to-order dresses that are shipped in less than eight weeks. And while most custom wedding dresses may reach the $10,000 price tag, Martin is keen on keeping the price between $2,500 and $3,500. “The industry standard of an eight-month timeline for creating a wedding dress felt neither sustainable for the customer nor for the brand,” says Martin, who first learned about this timeline while shopping for a friend’s wedding dress. “I knew that creating a piece of clothing — not made to fit — did not require eight months.” Les Aimants’ wedding styles are also not your average bridal fashion: Sparkly bralettes, blazer dresses, and bow-embellished mini dresses are all part of the brand’s offering. For more traditional types, there are A-line ball skirts and mermaid gowns.
The custom-order model is also an option that many brides have to rely on because of the lack of size inclusivity in the wedding industry. And with custom orders being more costly, it’s harder to find affordable, well-fitting gowns for a wide range of bodies. “By shopping with a brand like Les Aimants that offers made-to-order gowns tailored to your body measurements, you save both time and money, as the dress is created to fit you from the start,” says Martin.
As more brides find unique ways into bridal fashion, brands like Les Aimants are ready to flip the script, marrying technology and fashion and making the custom luxury experience a more common one. “As a female founder, I am passionate about empowering other women,” Martin says. “The virtual aspect allows you to see an instant rendering of your vision, effectively bridging the gap between your Pinterest mood board and your dream wedding dress.”
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