David’s Bridal, the country’s largest chain of bridal stores, is continuing its love affair with tech with the acquisition, announced today, of custom wedding dress startup Anomalie.
The retailer, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2018 and has been in turnaround mode ever since, has been aggressively pursuing cutting edge tech to attract today’s brides.
The price of the acquisition, and other terms, were not disclosed by David’s or Anomalie.
The Anomalie acquisition gives David’s access to tools the startup created to enable brides to visualize, and design, their perfect wedding dresses online. It also adds Anomalie co-founder and CEO Leslie Voorhees Means to the David’s team.
“To have her on our team is phenomenal,” David’s CEO James Marcum said. “She developed a lot of very unique tech assets,” he said.
Tech tools for brides
While David’s is not going to sell customized dresses the way Anomalie did, the Anomalie tech assets can be used by David’s to help brides find their perfect dress, he said.
“There’s so much to how a bride goes in and starts thinking about the dress of her dreams. We think these assets, integrated with our platforms, will help leapfrog us further,” Marcum said.
The acquisition also taps into something both companies have seen to be true – that while today’s brides love to research wedding dresses online, and love designing virtual dresses, when it comes to buying a dress most still prefer to use a physical store.
Voorhees Means said she decided to join David’s because she believes the company “shares Anomalie’s mission of providing a personalized experience for every bride.”
“After immersing myself in all areas of the wedding industry for over five years. it’s clear that there is one company bringing innovative solutions and an inclusive mindset to every step of the bride’s journey, and that’s David’s Bridal,” Voorhees Means said.
“I come from a supply chain background, and I can tell you from competing against them that David’s has their choice of top designers and materials and workshops to make the best, most beautiful wedding dresses, and they use their scale to deliver a higher quality and better value to brides than almost anything else out there,” she said.
Voorhees Mean and her husband Callie Means founded Anomalie in 2016 after Voorhees Means became frustrated while shopping for her own wedding dress. Voorhees Mean, who gained supply chain and manufacturing expertise while working in China for Nike
The Anomalie tech innovations included a DressBuilder Quiz that asks brides questions about their preferences, offers them a dashboard of photo images they can click on, and can shift through 4 billion possible permutations to create a sketch of their dream dress.
Voorhees Means said the scale and reach of David’s Bridal is impressive.
“One in three brides walk down the aisle in a wedding dress from David’s Bridal, and over 90% of brides touch David’s Bridal at some point along their journey,” she said.
But what impressed her more, she said, is “how much David’s combines that scale with the recognition of the individualism of each bride, which was so important to me at Anomalie.”
Voorhees Means will report to Kelly Cook, chief marketing and IT officer at David’s Bridal.
Voorhees Means said the Dress Builder technology Anomalie created could be used by David’s to help brides narrow down choices, do research, and get inspiration. Dress Builder also can store a bride’s wishlist of the features she wants in her dress, produce a custom sketch and offer photos of brides in similar dresses.
“That techology can be applied to David’s inventory as well,” she said, giving brides the ability to search for a David’s dress similar to their dream design.
The popularity of the Dress Builder quiz also can give David’s access to brides-to-be early in their journey to a wedding dress.
Forever Bride and other acquisitions
David’s Bridal, under Marcum, has moved agressively both to develop its own tech and to acquire digital and tech-foward wedding startups, particularly ones created by female founders.
Earlier this month it announced the acquisition of online wedding resource Forever Bride, in a deal that will bring Forever Bride’s co-founder and CEO on to the David’s team.
In 2018, a year before Marcum became CEO, David’s acquired online gift registry Blueprint Registry. Lizzy Ellingson, chief design and product officer at Blueprint, became chief digital experience officer at David’s following that acquisition.
In 2020, David’s unveiled tech that lets brides-to-be get a 3-D or augmented reality views of its dresses.
David’s Bridal, which was founded 70 years ago, has some 300 stores nationwide. It has faced competition in recent years from a growing number of online wedding retailers. But one of its biggest challenges has been winning over brides who don’t want to buy their wedding dress from the same place where their mothers, or even grandmothers, shopped.
To combat that, David’s has dramatically improved its social media presence, creating Instagrammable “I Found The One” photo ops in their stores, and courting the love of key Tik Tok influencers.
It has also emphasized its offerings in special occasion dresses beyond weddings, such as proms and quinceaneras.
The privately held company doesn’t reveal its revenues but Marcum said the company believes it has increased its market share duirng the pandemic.
“We are so different today, and the customer sees it,” he said.
The perception of David’s Bridal is changing, Marcum said. “We are winning, one customer at a time,” he said.