As of Thursday, December 29, 2016
Gap Inc. tied the knot with Weddington Way.
The San Francisco retail giant announced it acquired Weddington Way, an online wedding boutique also based in San Francisco, for an undisclosed price.
As part of the agreement reached earlier this month, Weddington Way founder Ilana Stern will continue to lead the company she launched in 2011, Gap said.
Weddington Way offers brides the opportunity to shop for wedding gowns online. Along with its e-commerce site (www.weddingtonway.com), the company also manufactures its own dresses. The vertical retail arrangement allows the company to provide wedding clothes without the “wedding markup,” where the cost of goods and services often are double the amount and higher than the average price, according to Consumer Reports.
Gap’s move into the wedding business comes as J. Crew bows out of that niche. In November, J. Crew shuttered its bridal business after shaking up the wedding industry in 2004. The company sold bridesmaids dresses and wedding gowns exclusively online until 2010, when J. Crew opened its first bridal boutique on Madison Avenue in New York.
J. Crew offered modern styles at cheaper prices than the conventional wedding boutique. It also gave brides the chance to order gowns online, which was rare at the time.
J. Crew’s bridal exit took place at the same time its sales were declining. The retailer’s third-quarter results showed that same-store sales declined 9 percent compared to a 12 percent decline during the same period last year.
E-commerce wedding boutiques seem to be gaining in popularity. Earlier this year, Anomalie, another e-commerce boutique selling wedding clothes, took a bow.
The San Francisco–based company works with factories that make wedding dresses. It can retail the gowns for $1,000 while traditional bridal companies often offer a similar dress for $5,000, according to the company’s website (www.dressanomalie.com).
But weddings are still expensive affairs. The Wedding Report, a market-research group, said that in 2016 American brides spent on average $1,220 for a bridal gown. The total cost of a wedding averaged $26,519.