With stay-at-home orders and the coronavirus limiting the number of people allowed to congregate in the U.S., wedding ceremonies have been postponed, downsized or canceled.
An estimated 28% of couples that had planned to get married in April, May or June are postponing their weddings to later in 2020, with 6.5% of April brides canceling their weddings altogether, according to data from The Wedding Report Inc.
Because most wedding dress shopping is done long before a bride walks down the aisle, many brides who anticipate a fall or winter wedding this year are unable to physically try on a dress.
“Brides buy dresses 9 to 12 months ahead of time,” says Leslie Voorhees Means, co-founder of wedding dress retailer Anomalie. “We’ve seen an uptick in the last four weeks in both sign-ups and sales, which is exciting and shows the power of being able to serve these brides remotely.”
Because of its web-only status, the custom web-only retailer has seen a surge in website traffic, with a 40% increase from social media directed traffic as a result of Instagram live videos, Voorhees Means says. Additionally, Anomalie has had a 25% increase in signups to its website since the COVID-19 outbreak began, she says.
While she wouldn’t provide exact sales figures, Voorhees Means did say that March will be the best sales month Anomalie has ever had. She says this shows the optimism of brides and the power of its remote model.
Anomalie, which sells at www.dressanomalie.com, works with brides to create a custom-made dress from scratch. With the DressBuilder tool on its website, brides answer a series of questions, which then compute a sketch of a mock dress based on their answers. Brides then set up a virtual design consultation to meet with a stylist who helps tweak the details for their dream dress, Voorhees Means says.
With fewer consumers meeting in person and the uptick in virtual video conferencing because of the coronavirus, Anomalie now sets up consultations using the video-sharing software Zoom, Voorhees Means says.
“We have a really incredibly dedicated team,” Voorhees Means says. “We’re the only one that designs with their brides remotely, and we’ve got this team of stylists that have always had to manage their portfolio of brides remotely.”
To help alleviate some of the stress and anxiety future brides may be feeling during the coronavirus pandemic, Voorhees Means says that her company has guaranteed that all dresses purchased will be delivered a month before the wedding, or Anomalie will refund 1.5 times the price of the gown. That means any bride who purchases a dress would receive a full refund, plus be paid 50% of their gown should there be a delay in shipment.
Anomalie’s philanthropic COVID-19 efforts
“We thought that was a really great way we can show our confidence, which is so important right now,” Voorhees Means says. So far, they haven’t had to enact this guarantee yet as all dresses have arrived on time.
Anomalie is using its unique position in the bridal industry to do more than create dresses for brides-to-be: It’s using its supply chain partnerships to provide CDC-certified masks to hospitals in need across Canada and the United States.
After finding out that one of its supply chain partners in China had access to face masks and face mask suppliers, Voorhees Means says they made the decision to start a GoFundMe, with the intention of using the donations to purchase face masks for healthcare workers. As of publication, the fundraiser has nearly met its $30,000 goal coming in at $27,318.
“We’re really excited to be able to bridge that connection, given the typical healthcare supply chain is breaking down right now,” Voorhees Means says. “We’ve gotten crazy responses to brides and brides’ connections to healthcare workers. And the dire need is all over the place, not just the bigger places like New York City.”
The first shipment of masks has already gone out, Voorhees Means says, with expected delivery this week.