Apr 25, 2010
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British Bridal Exhibition in Harrogate sees success

Apr 25, 2010

The huge British Bridal Exhibition in Harrogate earlier this month pulled in buyers from across the world that were there to spend serious money on the top bridalwear, men’s formalwear and wedding accessories collections. More than 300 ranges for 2010 and beyond were on show and business, according to exhibitors, was nothing short of amazing, with many claiming to have taken more orders of a higher value in the first day than in the whole of any previous three-day shows.

Photo: www.bbeh.co.uk

The atmosphere at BBEH was likened by both retailers and suppliers as “like the good old days” when business meant serious business.

Close to 4,000 visitors attended the show, representing some 1,755 companies of which 1,522 were wedding wear retailers.

Pete Meades of Bonny Bridals said: “At this September show we smashed all previous records. We took on 15 new accounts and had to turn down countless others as we were already supplying shops in that area. It's nice to see that stores are comfortable to spend their budget in this 'recession' and move forward.”

Bonny, one of the first companies to focus on the plus-size bridal market with special designs and dedicated structures, reported an increased demand for larger sizes. It was a view shared by Veromia whose new Sonsie plus-size collection, the brain-child of designer Jason Jennings, had buyers standing in line to place orders.

Big dresses – as in romantic big-skirted ballgowns – were a real feature at Harrogate, where layer upon layer added that all-important volume to the look. There were some spectacular pieces at Ellis Bridals, Justin Alexander and Amanda Wyatt all of whom delivered dream dresses designed to make a bride feel like a princess. Ellis added side detailing to full skirts topped with waist-clinching strapless bodices while Tony Mentel at Sincerity, produced fairytale gowns for his new Signature range that literally floated with movement and Amanda Wyatt, a perennial favourite, showed a group of full dresses with beautiful but discreet beadwork. In the designer hall, top names such as Alan Hannah, Donna Salado, Sharon Bowen and newcomer Emma Tindley included several big, statement-making dresses in their 2010 collections.

“We have shown at BBEH since its inception,” said Barry Waterman, Chairman of Ellis Bridals. “The show is still the key event in the bridal calendar and feedback confirms that the bridal market is still holding its own. In addition to our existing customers, we had added interest from overseas retailers from France, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Israel, Russia and Poland.”

Alongside the storybook dresses were the sleek, slinky gowns – once the preserve of destination weddings – that have become very much the style of the moment. Temperley Bride, Ugo Zaldi, Anoushka G and Augusta Jones had some of the best. Christine

Marchant of Augusta Jones, whose Grecian-style one-shoulder dresses with corsages of chiffon flowers, was another with a packed order book. “By the end of the first day, we had beaten our best for an entire show period,” she said.

“This show was the best ever,” agreed Victor Joneja of Crystal Breeze. “We were writing business at 9.40am on the opening day and didn’t stop. This season we have broken all records.”

“This is the first time for years that I have seen such activity,” said one retailer. “The halls and hotels were packed not with lookers, but with serious buyers ready to spend real money. That’s naturally put the exhibitors in an ‘up’ frame of mind and that has made the buying process really enjoyable. What I have been impressed with is that, for the first time in my memory, retailers were talking to other retailers and exchanging ideas and contacts. That sort of shared thinking is what makes an industry special and makes me proud to be in bridal. Yes, I spent more than I’d planned but yes, I bought well and am more than happy with my purchases”.

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