Whilst the majority of wedding businesses manage the influx of work, Bridal business owners and their teams took some time away to visit the renowned industry trade event Harrogate Bridal Show 2021.
WI Journal visited the event held at the Conference Centre to see how buyers and brands were feeling about attending a large event with crowds and their feelings about the future and of course to see all the bridal delights on offer.
From the very start everything has been organised brilliantly through Ocean Media, high five to Wendy Adams, Event Director and her hardworking team who really pulled off a great event; safe, well attended, happy smiling faces everywhere and plenty to see and do.
Exhibitors were from big brands; Maggie Sottero, Gaia Bridal, Justin Alexander, Lillian West, Madi Lane, Evie Young, Romantica, Allure, Casablanca, Essense of Australia, Ronald Joyce, Randy Fenoli Bridal, Wilderly to name a few – to see the full list click this link Harrogate Bridal Show – 2021 Exhibitor list (theharrogatebridalshow.co.uk)
The Dando London stand was constantly buzzing with eager buyers, you will recognise them from the hit TV show (produced by TLC) ‘Say Yes to the Dress UK’ at their boutique in Kent with hosts David Emmanuel and boutique owner Christine Dando.
It was joy to see new brands exhibiting for the first time including accessories brand Caped and Crowned. Based in Oxfordshire, founder and designer Victoria Abband is a Scientist turned designer and looking to “feed my soul” she is creating intricate and outstanding capes and headdresses. Her passion oozes when she talks about her business, her designers and the stand catches your eye and draws you in. Already acknowledged and published in British Vogue we know that she will go far! Show her some love on her Instagram account here.
Rowley Hesselballe are a a talented fashion-led duo from London starting the business in March 2020, due to Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns the London launch was unfortunately cancelled although it was possible at that time to launch in Turkey. Why Turkey? you may ask. Co-founder Canon Hasselballe originates from Turkey and after meeting fellow Co-founder, Rosie Poole, at London College of Fashion in 2010 and sharing two decades of experience in the Fashion industry the pair decided now was the time to launch their own bridal business and the brand was born. Their style is clear; they are for the modern to classic, contemporary to timeless bride. Tactile fabrics and unique designs we wish them all the best – give them a follow on their socials here
All bases were covered included menswear, bridesmaids, veils, belts, jewellery, shoes and stunning array of hair accessories and underwear to fabrics, prom, mother of the bride and flower girls, business services like packaging and steamers to fashion shows and business clinics plenty to see across the 3 days.
The general vibe had the buzz excitement. Necessary precautions were in place, sanitiser everywhere, signs regarding the proof of vaccine/flow tests were evident as you arrived the option to wear masks but once it is felt “normal” “like other years but with more excitement”.
Held in the stunning Edwardian Royal Hall theatre built in 1903and still looking as shiny and glitzy as ever, it’s the perfect location for the fashion shows. Always an anticipated part of the event (plus a great opportunity to rest your feet after all the walking) for so many this was the first time in a theatre of any kind in a long time. So with a glass of bubbles, or two, in hand visitors took selfies of their teams as they waiting for the show to start. And it was a spectacular show with brands that included Vienna Rose Bridal, Lynn Grant, Kate Fearnley and Rachel Allan, the audience whooped and cheered as each model showed off their star gowns, it really was great to witness the joy of “being together”. Big shoot out to the hair and make up teams who behind the scenes did wonderful work and enhanced the already stunning models.
The Bridal Retail Success Academy was also back in full swing providing valuable advice for business owners and this year the speakers were; Megan Garmers, Anna Hare, Ruth Larkin, Shannon Martin, Abi Neill, Jo Stott and Get Savvy Coaching. Find out more here.
The Networking side to any trade event is always a draw and we heard how important that was this year more than ever. From the squealing as old friends saw each other across the hall, from the laughter in the VIP Lounge and Gin Bar to the reacquainting of sellers and buyers for this in person event.
Harrogate Conference Centre is so well located to a huge choice of restaurants and bars, including a short walk to the famous Bettys Online Shop: Luxury Gifts, Bakery & Café Tea Rooms– really refreshing to see the streets teaming with lanyard-wearing HBS visitors socialising over dinner and drinks. We enjoyed dinner at The Ivy and Sukothai – both of which we can recommend. Now that’s the way to do business!
All in all a great restart and with the amazing collections of beautiful gowns we know that bridal businesses across the UK will be sharing their new purchase orders very soon.
The next event will be the return of the White Gallery and the London Bridal Fashion Week 20-22 March 2022 so if you want to attend put the date in your diary. And keep updated by reading The Bridal Buyer.