When it comes to plus sizes, the bridal market has the same issues the ready-to-wear market has. High-end designers don’t make clothes — or wedding gowns — in large sizes, despite increased publicity of the market sector on shows like Say Yes to the Dress: Big Bliss.
Just ask Yukia Walker. When Walker was shopping for a wedding gown three-and-a-half years ago, she suffered one insult after another. Walker got the cold shoulder from retailers that didn’t stock dresses for her size-20 frame. Stores didn’t have samples in her size, so she was forced to try on dresses with the backs cut out. “It was a very humiliating and humbling experience,” Walker said. “My sister had to try on my wedding gowns for me. It was very disheartening. I had to get a size 16 and go on a crash diet. I ended up with a wedding gown that I hate.”
…Walker said she can’t understand why designers are still treating large-size women as second-class citizens when “fewer and fewer brides in America are fitting into a size 10.”
Walker opened a store dedicated to high-end plus-size bridalwear in Columbia, MD, in September called Curvaceous Couture specializing in sizes 16 through 32. Reem Acra even creates an exclusive collection for the store, because, Acra says, “Here and there are opportunities to do special sizes, but as a store concept, there’s nothing out there.” She notes, “The plus-size customer has money to spend.”
Acra is right: Curvaceous Couture is such a hit that brides from as far and wide as New York and the tropics travel to Walker’s 5,000-square-foot shop, where the gowns start at $1,000. Though she plans to open stores in Dallas, Atlanta, and Chicago, a New York outpost is not on the horizon.
“We even get brides from the Caribbean. We’re not finding the need to go to New York at this time.”
Right, why come here, when New Yorkers are going there? To shop? That’s how you know you’re onto something in American retail.