Three unique women’s brands are making inroads in the bridal market with spring ’10 launches.
Jen + Kim
Manufactured: Los Angeles
Retail price points: $375 to $600
Background: Lured by its manufacturing options, New Yorkers Jennifer Bonopartis (below, right) and Kimberly Dingham (left) moved to Los Angeles to establish their shoe line. Design Director Dingham attended the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and worked in a shoe factory, while Bonopartis, the company’s director of sales and operations, got a job as a buyer. Two years ago, the duo made footwear for the VOOM by Joy Han fashion show. Soon after, they developed a custom-design business where ladies can choose from different shoe styles and materials, often at home parties hosted by customers. Orders are crafted at a local factory and delivered in four to six weeks.
Branching out: Eventually, betrothed party guests requested shoes to match gowns or styles that bucked tradition. “The bride needed the same customization that we provided to our regular customers,” said Bonopartis.
Brides-to-be: Women in their 20s and 30s. “There’s the diva bride, romantic princess and the casual-chic girl,” Bonopartis said. “We take personal style and translate it into wedding shoes.”
Design philosophy: “Sexy high heels and beautiful leathers and skins equal perfect shoes,” said Dingham.
Inspiration: The fairy-tale glass slipper.
Designer pick: Dingham likes the Coco with draping silk and a metal heel. Bonopartis chooses the Pegah (at right) for the coverage it offers.
Competition: Independent designers such as Pedro Garcia, whose shoes can sometimes be interpreted for wedding wear.
Wedding day no-no: Flip-flops.
Distribution: The 10-style bridal line is sold mainly at hosted parties, but Bonopartis and Dingham are developing a package that would allow bridal boutiques to offer custom-made shoes in-store.
Retail price points: $69 to $119
Background: Jones, an actress, met Av Goodman, president of Martinez Valero, about two years ago and began developing plans for footwear. “I wanted to have my own product since I was little,” said Jones (below). “Over time that evolved into shoes.” Now, the former beauty queen — whose credits include a role in Sylvester Stallone’s forthcoming “The Expendables” — is working with Martinez Valero designer Scott Reiss on a 15-style, spring ’10 collection of bridal and evening footwear.
Branching out: Because brand partner Martinez Valero already offered a broad selection of wedding and special-occasion footwear, the infrastructure was in place for the new brand. “Scott came up with the idea of bridal shoes at a lesser price point but more contemporary — sexier looks. We’re filling a void,” said Goodman.
Brides-to-be: Fashion-forward women ages 18 to 35.
Design philosophy: “Glamorous and sexy,” said Jones.
Inspiration: Sexy silhouettes and bling. “We say paparazzi-worthy embellishments,” said Jones, noting that the line has been decorated with gold details, crystal ornaments, pleats and lace.
Designer pick: Vicki, a double-platform satin heel with a French blue lining and sole, which lends even petite brides “supermodel” stature. “This is their day, their catwalk,” Jones said.
Competition: Goodman said there isn’t much competition for fashionable bridal footwear at the Lauren Jones price point. Added Reiss, “The peep-toe, 30-millimeter platforms with 110-millimeter heels is basic for us, but not in the bridal industry.”
Best song for testing bridal shoes: The Dixie Cups’ “Chapel of Love”
Distribution: Alfred Angelo, Belk, Nordstrom, Endless.com and Zappos.com
Pour La Victoire
Manufactured: China (non-bridal Pour La Victoire styles are made in Brazil)
Retail price points: $150 to $250
Background: Jay Adoni (below, left) and David Giordano (right) joined forces in 2007, launching PLV Studio Inc., a design, sales and marketing company that’s home to Pour La Victoire and Kelsi Dagger. The venture marked a comeback for Adoni, who founded L.J. Simone and worked at other juniors’ shoe brands in the late 1970s through the early 1990s, before leaving for a real estate career. Giordano, also an industry veteran, oversaw sales and creative for several clothing and footwear brands before launching PLV Studio.
Branching out: The co-owners and head designers felt the bridal segment presented an opportunity to expand. “In the current economy, only those brands that connect with consumers and provide exceptional price/value relationships will flourish,” Giordano said. The duo lended the 15-style bridal line a “progressive twist,” with shapes and heels, the hallmarks of their other collections.
Brides-to-be: “Modern, sophisticated women with a true understanding of fashion and proportion,” said Giordano.
Design philosophy: French fashion and architecture inform Giordano and Adoni’s designs.
Inspiration: High-end European ready-to-wear and couture along with wedding references. The line showcases materials such as satin and lace on edgier styles than traditional bridal footwear, including zip-back platform booties and sky-high heels with ruffled flower embellishments.
Designer pick: Freya, a satin, crystal-flecked high heel with cutouts
Competition: Christian Louboutin and Stuart Weitzman
Wedding day no-no: Leather shoes and chunky heels
Distribution: Exclusively with Zappos.com for spring ’10