The recent, successful celebration of Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week, one of the main fashion events in Spain, allows us to observe trends at two different levels: first in terms of fashion, and then the aspects related with business.

This edition, which looked forwards to the spring and summer of 2018, was marked, as viewed through the eyes of the twenty-five designers taking part, by the personality displayed by millennial brides (those who were born between 1981 and 1995) when choosing their wedding dress: it must combine their free spirit with delicacy and sensuality, and must be capable of reflecting individual character while accentuating femininity and beauty.

This character finds expression in multi-layered structures, mermaid and princess outlines, open necklines, and exposed backs and shoulders. There are also tulle and gauze transparencies adorned with costume jewellery and combined in structured Mikado dresses with soft, sophisticated lines, made of silk and organdie. There will be a lot of pleated cloth on display, with inner corsets or bodices to shape the waist, and embroidered 3D flowers, especially for brides who are getting married in summer. For winter weddings there will be long, wide sleeves, taffeta skirts, trousers and capes.

Tulle, Guipure lace, gauze, cotton muslin, silk and jacquard all contribute to the creation of a wide variety of designs which put elegance and comfort first. Colours range from white to ivory, reaching as far as gentle blues and pinks, with metallic and gilded touches.

A blooming industry

Then there is the other trend: the importance of the bridal fashion sector in Spain that has a turnover of nearly 1,300 million euros per year, representing nearly 13% of the whole textile industry.

These results emerge from the study “Millennial Brides, born in the 80s, married today”, presented in 2016 by the professor of IESE Business School José Luis Nueno -an expert on the fashion business and doctor in ‘Business Administration’ by the University of Harvard – and commissioned by Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week.

The sector consists of 700 companies that provide jobs for over 6,000 people, and every year they produce 755,000 wedding dresses. Spain is the only country in the West that produces more than its internal demand requires, and is the second largest exporter in the world, after China. Catalonia, which has a long-established tradition of textile design and production, represents 41.6% of the total for Spain.

Thanks to the strategy of international expansion undertaken by the major companies in the sector, exports account for 40% of turnover for wedding dresses ‘made in Spain’. According to relevant data from the Information Centre for Textiles and Dressmaking (Centro de Información Textil y de la Confección, CITYC), Spanish exports of bridal fashion (including wedding dresses, suits for the groom, party wear, accessories etc.) rose by 11% in 2016 compared with 2015. Now it is the impact of the digital revolution on the retail trade that appears to be the next major challenge.