We dress brides all over the world

MAY 2011

08-04-01Ten of every 100 brides in the world choose a design from a Spanish company for their big day. And five of those ten choose a dress designed by a Catalan designer. Either in franchise outlets or in multibrand stores, brides all over the world purchase a dress made in Spain, which according to ICEX, figures is currently in second place for exports of bridal dresses, and only surpassed by China.

Crisis in the domestic market

Despite the wedding sector in Spain accounting for almost 1,400 million euros each year, providing jobs for 13,000 people and the country spending the most on wedding dresses apart from Italy, Spanish clients have been spending less on weddings since 2008. The causes lie in the economic crisis, which has led to a decline in the number of weddings, with 10% fewer weddings in 2009 than in the previous year, according to figures from the National Statistics Institute (NSI).

An international sector

Thanks to the internationalisation process that Spanish companies began a few years ago, it is today possible to successfully meet the challenge of the decline in domestic consumption: exports have increased by 8% since 2007, with a volume last year of 308.75 million euros.

08-04-02Instead of being a good cushion, the international market has been vital to this industry. “I’m not doing so badly,” says Cristina Pérez, one of the two sisters who are designers for the Catalan brand Yolancris, who attributes their current success to the fact that they increased their production for foreign markets by 30% in order to beat the recession.
08-04-03It is not just the big players in the sector who export, such as Pronovias, who have stores in 75 countries, or Rosa Clará, which has just entered the North American market and sees China as its next challenge. Small and medium enterprises in the sector such as Yolancris, which are normally family-owned, have found their multibrand stores are the ideal means for becoming international.
08-04-04Many other businesses have followed in their footsteps, such as the Jordi Dalmau group, which now sends its dresses to Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Brazil; Raimon Bundó, which is present in the United States, South America and Asia; Novia d’Art, which sells its products in 35 countries, and Immaculada García, present in three countries as well as Spain. And these are just some examples.

This international trend is reflected at Barcelona Bridal Week, which this year was held between 10 and 15 May at Fira de Barcelona’s Gran Via area with that 40% of the brands and 60% of the professional purchasers will be from abroad.

Exclusivity and quality

“Dresses made to measure: you don’t get that from the Chinese,” says Cristina de Yolancris, who emphasises the quality that makes Spanish dressmaking outstanding. Dalmau agrees, and believes that the exclusivity that Spanish designs offer meet the increasingly selective tastes of clients from all over the world: “Clients don’t mind waiting if they are given a unique and good product.” According to Cristina, the countries that buy most the Spanish white wedding dresses are Brazil, Russia, the Arab countries and Eastern Europe, since accession into the European Union.

Catalonia, leader in wedding fashion

08-03-04As well as Pronovias and Rosa Clará, Spain’s two largest companies in the sector, Catalonia accounts for half the 700 companies in Spain working in dressmaking for weddings, functions and communions, making it the driving force behind exports. Jordi Dalmau thinks that this is because of the experimental and daring nature of Catalan designs: “In Catalonia we are restless, like all southern Europeans; here we produce an original fusion of northern and Mediterranean styles which is very popular.”

MARINA MAYER