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What's It All Worth?

When you think of bridal what comes to mind? When you think of a wedding what is the first thing you think of?


The bride's attire for her wedding is what everyone remembers when they think back on that special day.

This little blog of mine is an attempt to give you a bit more insight into my world - beyond the dress. How I come up with new designs, how the dresses are made and our philosophy are all things you'll read about here... Today though, I want to share a concern that I have for the bridal world.

My hope is that when you read this post you will have a greater appreciation for my gowns (and others like them) and their value. I find that value, or lack there of, is becoming more and more of an issue when brides are dress shopping.

There was a time – and I know this because I’ve been in this business for 15+ years - when the average cost of a dress was $3,000! Today that number has been cut in half with averages near the $1,500 mark. How is this possible when inflation has increased the price of most things? The average cost of weddings themselves has increased in those 15 years from $20,000 to $40,000 yet the price we pay for the dress is half as much as it used to be? It's hard to wrap your head around. For comparison, a made-to-order Barbara Kavchok gown starting retail price is around $2,200.

This is a problem for the industry, especially those of us who still manufacture here in the USA using ethical and sustainable techniques. Everything that goes into making a dress here costs at least double what it would if I were to outsource my production overseas. So why do I still make dresses here, in Pennsylvania? Great question!

Sometimes I ask myself this question too, but then I remember all the joy I get from getting my hands on the dresses and overseeing the production and quality control, I take pride in employing a staff of talented seamstresses who are true artists at their craft and who have also become dear friends and family, I enjoy being able to control the fabrics and techniques used in production to maintain a sustainable and ethical product. Seeing my designs come to life right in front of my eyes is reason enough to keep doing what I do because none of these things would be possible if my dresses were made overseas.

Believe me, I like a good bargain myself, but I will also go out of my way to spend more money for locally grown produce, fair trade coffee, glass vs. plastic and on pretty much any female owned and operated business. I know first hand how hard it is for these businesses to continue to operate and still stay true to their philosophy.

"The struggle is real and it's real in the bridal industry."

If we, as a society, have become more socially and environmentally conscious then why hasn’t this trend crossed into the realm of bridal fashion? I think part of the problem is that we are used to buying cheap, disposable clothing for every day wear. We’re all guilty of it. It can be hard to justify paying so much for “something we only wear once”. If only I had a dime for every time I heard this...

Anyway, when I hear that concern from brides I can only think - What is the most important, meaningful thing you will ever wear that you will be seen by tons of people in at an event where you are the center of attention and photographed in for future generations to see???

How much is that worth to you?

- Barbara


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