As we get closer and closer to launch day, I’ve gotten a certain reoccurring reaction to the concept of Nuorikko, one brought on after any given audience gets over their idea of what a bridal gown is, and what the word “wedding” even means in 2017. Its both gratifying and surprising to me every time, as its a pretty good indicator that I’ve started to hit on something that, by definition, should be incredibly obvious, but is still a surprise to everyone I’ve talked about it with. A wide audience, from investors to friends to brides to the guests renting my spare bedroom on AirBnB, have the same questions:
“Wow, that’s so different/cool/unexpected! Why hasn’t anyone else done this??”
Hearing this sentiment repeatedly has led me to this blog post, in which I explain why bridal doesn’t have to mean “traditional bridal”. The bride is evolving, the customer is evolving; her experience should not be one where she’s stuck trying to re-create the previous generation’s expectations and norms of a one-size-fits-all wedding.
One of my favorite quotes, from a New York Times article that came out at basically the exact same moment I had finished rolling around the concept of Nuorikko and deciding that there was, in fact, a market for what I had in mind (read the original article here), is from a fellow bridal designer targeting a modern, savvy bride:
“The choice no longer needs a ‘bridal’ label. It should just be cool clothes.”
This is an exciting, groundbreaking statement, especially coming from a bridal designer, but it does not fully address what a modern bride is truly looking for. Yes, she wants a different experience. She wants to be allowed to “be herself”, and this is at the center of her entire motivation and drive for what she chooses as she plans her wedding, but if it were so easy to just go out and buy a dress to wear to her wedding, the industry would not exist.
It is, after all, still her wedding day. And regardless of what statistics are floated in the interwebs about the likelihood of any given marriage lasting past a certain milestone, there is no bride who embarks on the wedding planning journey thinking that this is not a momentous day, a once-in-a-lifetime day. And even though she is not looking to be a cookie cutter bride, she most definitely wants to look like a bride and not just someone in a pretty white dress that could have been purchased at the chain store down the street.
And now, I believe we’ve gotten to the heart of the bride’s motivation and emotional journey when she is shopping for her wedding gown:
“How do I remain authentic to myself, as a bride?”
Answering this question poses a host of other questions, not least “How do I want to feel as a bride”, and “How do I want to look as a bride”, but I believe the center of a savvy girl’s gown search is about having the autonomy to find something that makes her feel incredibly special, and still intrinsically herself.
Anatomy of a Modern Bride
Let’s take a look at the basic features and makeup of the modern consumer:
- She has a brain. One she uses to online-research the heck out of most purchases, especially something as focal and momentous as a wedding gown.
- She has emotions. Ones that she wants to have tweaked by whatever she decides to wear in front of her friends and family and future partner.
- She has a body. A real one. Whether she is a size 2 or a size 20, she wants to be able to wear the outfit, not the other way around.
Anatomy of a Modern Gown
I’m not even going to go into all the ways that traditional bridal gowns fail to address these basic anatomical features of a bride. That’s another blog post entirely. What I will address is the fact that the future of the industry is not to move away from the concept of a bridal label. It is to give her choices and the ability to showcase her individuality on one of the most special days of her life.
There is a lot that Nuorikko is doing that is not traditional or standard, but there is a reason that its garnering such a strong reaction from brides and non-brides alike. It feels bridal. There is no doubt in your mind upon viewing the collection that it is meant for a walk down the aisle, yet many of the pieces can certainly be repurposed or re-styled after the big day into something special, but are wearable outside of the ceremony in a way that does not scream “Halloween”.
After all, its not every day a woman gets to be the bride, she absolutely should feel incredible and unique and entirely “herself” on that day. For some brides, that means buying the beaded, lace covered, or tulle gown. But for others, it means creating her own version of what it means to be a bride when she marries her chosen partner.
Be yourself, Nuorikko brides, in whatever way is most meaningful to you.