“I think there’s something incredible about respectfully disrupting an industry,” Melange de Blanc co-founder Christina Wettstein said.
Wettstein launched the pop-up bridal market with Kimberely Marcoux after realizing—having spent years in the wedding industry—that the way buyers were looking at and interacting with brands wasn’t fun, meaningful or personal enough.
In an effort to get buyers and bridal fashion brands all in one place, they launched the three-day event, which is an in-person market hosted at a luxurious, Instagrammable boutique hotel, where designers can show off their newest collections after a course of lobster and rosé and buyers can decide whether they want to sell each brand at their stores.
“We have live music, we have a mannequin garden. So, essentially we present as many opportunities as possible for buyers to network in a non-stressful situation,” Wettstein said.
After the welcome event, brands set up their showrooms to get ready for the next two days of shopping and networking. And in the end, once all the deals are made, they celebrate with a gala, runway show and “the most fun party of all: tacos and tequila. Because everyone loves tacos and tequila,” Wettstein said.
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The founders started hosting the pop-ups in early 2020, amid the pandemic, and their latest took place this week at The Colony Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida. Designers filled the ballroom with this season’s pieces and this Thursday, April 15, they wrapped up the market (slash haute vacation) with their runway show.
Each event has a different theme, depending on the city and on the boutique hotel that is chosen. For example, a recent pop-up in Palm Springs had a “full French Riviera vibe,” according to Wettstein, and each room was transformed to fit each designer’s aesthetic.
At a moment in time when brands are struggling, in-person events are rare, bridal fashion is changing and human connection is hard to find, Melange de Blanc is bringing something truly one-of-a-kind to the industry.
“It’s hard to make an impactful connection with someone when you’re going to the next meeting or the next appointment,” Wettstein said. “In New York it’s all spread out; you’re running from street to street. So, this is fun because the farthest you have to go is to the villa next door. It’s more impactful and the designers are loving it because they’re closing more sales.”
For their next event, the founders hope to invite brides to the runway show so they can look at brands’ designs before they even launch in stores and get an idea of the hottest bridal labels.
This is not only a big win for brides that want to stay in the know, and for buyers that want to get ahead of the curve, but also for small brands that have found it hard to make a name for themselves in the wedding industry.
The Australian brand Love Honor debuted just recently, and because Wettstein and Marcoux gave it a space in their pop-up, they already have a waiting list of 25 stores that have pre-written stock orders.
“I’ve been in bridal for 15 years and I think 15 years ago if you didn’t wear Vera Wang or Monique Lhuillier or Carolina Herrera you should just not have gotten married,” Wettstein joked. “Not really, but those were the coveted labels. So I think what’s changed from the brides’ point of view in that it doesn’t really matter. Everyone has this ability to be whoever they want to be on their wedding day.”
Because of this, the pop-up’s main goal is to show off “brands that no one else has seen before and now has the opportunity to see them first,” Wettstein said. She believes that trends have much more influence over the bridal scene these days, which means brides are more interested in wearing something cool that they are comfortable and feel gorgeous in than on buying classic name brands simply for the status.
Wettstein said that due to this, many designers are cutting back their collections from the traditional 36 looks to maybe 5 or 10 truly unique pieces, which they know will appeal to their customers.
“Just since COVID I think people are being more mindful about how they run their businesses,” Wettstein said.