Say you’re getting married. You want a dress. You start a Pinterest board—if you didn’t have one going already—and starting saving your favorites from around the web, both realistic (Reformation) and … aspirational (Vera Wang). But then, when it actually comes time to buy the damn thing, the stores make you wait weeks for an appointment and then have an entirely different selection in stock than the gowns you’ve been pining after online.
At least, that’s what Molly Kang found when she went shopping with her friends for their wedding gowns, and later for her own. “By far the most frustrating part of the process was not being able to find the dresses in person to try on,” she says. “In the traditional wedding dress shopping experience, you find a beautiful dress and you put it on your Pinterest board, but you actually have no idea what styles the stores carry until you make an appointment and show up.” This didn’t jib with her expectations of e-commerce in 2016, when you can order a $26,000 Gucci gown from Net-A-Porter with the same ease as a set of $12 cooking tongs from Amazon and have both delivered the same day. Coming from a background of retail strategy for brands like Journelle, Reformation, and Guess, Kang set out to turn her frustrations into a viable business, tinkering with the concept of a new kind of bridal-shopping venture while getting her MBA at Stanford.
Today, she’s launching Floravere, a wedding-dress site that merges the convenience of direct-to-consumer commerce (think Everlane et al.) with the luxury experience of bespoke bridalwear. Customers have the choice of seven different styles, each named after a different literary or pop-culture heroine—there’s H. Golightly, a plunging, voluminous, pocketed (!) number, E. Bennet, a convertible lace dress with a removable tulle skirt, and—perhaps our favorite—R. Gilmore, an elegant strapless gown with all-over floral embroidery. Once they’ve narrowed down their choices, brides-to-be can select three styles to try on at home at a price of $45 per gown, refundable upon purchase. The samples can be shipped nationwide, and come with a signature Bride Box, which includes useful things like a measuring tape and clips, along with what Kang calls “really fun goodies and extra swag to make the try-on experience more of a party with their girlfriends.”
Floravere currently offers each dress in sizes 0-12, equivalent to standard dress sizing (this may be news to anyone who hasn’t gone wedding-dress shopping, but traditionally, you have to go up two sizes or so in bridal). When it comes time to order, customers can choose to customize elements like raising the neckline, lengthening the train, changing the color from champagne to ivory, or adding a monogram inside the bodice for their “something blue” for an additional fee. The team crafting the dresses boasts an impressive resume, too, with designers who’ve previously worked at ateliers like Zac Posen, Dior, and Monique Lhuillier, who together came up with the tightly-edited initial collection, in hopes of appealing to women with a wide range of styles.
“When you go to a lot of traditional designer brands, there’s a specific look,” explains Kang. “There’s one brand for the romantic girl, there’s one brand for the minimalist girl, etcetera—but I actually thought it would be cool to work with the best of the best designers and offer a lot of different styles to speak to all the archetypes.” The same thinking also informed the name of the brand, which comes from the Latin roots of the words “anthology” and “desire,” and the lookbook, which features a sunny blond model gallivanting up the California coastline in a vintage convertible—which we can say with certainty inspires desire even in those of us without a ring on our finger.
Prices for the gowns range from $1,550 to $3,550 before customization fees—which, while somewhat higher than the national average of $1,469, is lower than most designer dresses at bridal boutiques and a veritable bargain compared to the $10,000-plus a custom high-end gown would cost. Another selling point? Turnaround time, which can still take six to nine months at a traditional retailer. With Floravere, made-to-order dresses arrive in 10 to 15 weeks (good news for procrastinators or those who plan on having a shorter engagement). Since Kang found that most brides prefer to find a local seamstress to handle alterations leading up to the wedding date, she’s hoping to eventually roll out a crowd-sourced database vetted by customers.
Because really, if we all work together, shouldn’t we be able to make this “I Do” thing a little more painless?