Goodbye, dyed to match. Flat, casual, vegan shoes — and a plethora of other creative options — are making their way down the wedding aisle.
As New York Bridal Week kicks off today, buyers and editors will view the latest crop of wedding wear that is likely to continue its pivot to a new kind of bride.
Past seasons have shown updated silhouettes: Think two pieces, jumpsuits and bridal tuxedos, as well as more casual — and affordable — dress options. And alongside them, the bridal footwear market is making its own updates that go far past the conventional white satin pump, with everyone from Toms to Jimmy Chooand Casadei taking a piece of the market.
“It’s a segment that needs to be approached with the same care as a main collection. We are not just facing one customer, we are facing customers all over the world who are facing multiple influences,” said Arianna Casadei, the daughter of Cesare Casadei, the brand’s creative director.
The young exec took charge of the e-commerce and global marketing and communications strategy for her family’s business in 2014. It was then that she realized the potential of the bridal shoe, after determining that the brand’s two biggest search keywords were “blade” (referring to the brand’s well known heel style) and “bridal.”
“We didn’t have a proper bridal collection. My grandparents and parents used just to design custom-made shoes for brides,” said Casadei. She began to build the brand’s unofficial offering of ready-to-buy bridal footwear piece by piece, adding essential sandal options to the mix and a variety of heel heights. “We saw that the attention was shifting from pumps to something that you can actually wear after the event,” she said.
Fast forward to 2019 and after getting married last year (where she received bespoke corset-inspired heeled wedding sandals with flowers hand stitched in crystal from her father and his design team at the brand’s San Mauro Pascoli workshop), Casadei is helping the family company launch two new bridal initiatives for the year.
The first is a full bridal footwear collection, curated from 19 of Casadei’s best styles from the past few seasons, in a range that includes eight flat or nearly-flat shoes, including bejeweled sandals, sneakers and even a white embellished pool slide. “Your wedding won’t be the same as mine and it won’t be the same as someone else’s,” said Casadei. “If you’re not used to wearing high heels all year long, why do you have to wear them for your wedding? You have to be comfortable and feel confident on that day.”
The second bridal push for Casadei is the Diamond Dust V, a sandal with a Blade heel made of actual diamond dust that the brand unveiled at Milan Fashion Week in February. While Casadei pointed to its potential as an “engagement shoe,” it will also be offered as a bridal look, with the option to customize the heel with various embellishments and materials. The brand will unveil the sandal as a custom-order item later in the year with a yet-to-be-named retail partner.
Meanwhile Jimmy Choo has seen increasing customer interest in its own bridal customization program, which it debuted online and in stores in 2015. The collection, which is refreshed annually, currently includes 26 shoe styles and five bag options, all of which can be designed in 13 fabrications and in 80-some colorways.
For 2019, creative director Sandra Choi included a pale blue moiré silk style (a nod to the “something blue” tradition) and pointed to the pearl-embellished Sacora ankle-strap sandal and the Satina platform as current popular statement styles. “There are no rules any more,” said Choi. “Like all Jimmy Choo customers, there isn’t one type [of bride]. They vary in age, nationality and background. They appreciate beautifully made things and they are confident in their style choices.”
To buy: Jimmy Choo Sacora heel, $1895; Jimmychoo.com.
To buy: Jimmy Choo Santina platform, $1,150; Jimmychoo.com.
On the more contemporary, price-friendly front, bridal retailers are turning to non-bridal brands to create a range of styles that cater to the tastes of the less-is-more (and less expensive) modern bride.
At BHLDN, Anthropologie’s buzzy bridal destination (which has 20 U.S. locations and a destination e-commerce site), there are currently 14 styles from Schutz, which range from basic white pumps to more on-trend items, like woven leather flat slides and mules with architectural ball heels.
And in the past few months, bridal footwear has dived even deeper into the mass-brand pool, with slipper brand Birdies debuting a line of embellished flat slides in March and Toms introducing a collection aimed at the entire wedding party in February.
To buy: Toms grosgrain alpargata, $60; Toms.com.
To buy: Birdies Songbird slipper, $140; Nordstrom.com.
Additionally, in May, heritage sandal brand Jack Rogers will launch its own Wedding Shop, a curation of classic sandals and shoes for brides and bridal parties. “We launched the ‘I Do’ sandal last year and it sold out in a few weeks,” said Jack Rogers CEO Lydia Park Luis.
A Tory Burch alum, Park Luis is a year into her revamp of the brand, which includes the upcoming bridal initiative. “Jack Rogers is about sisterhood, and we are a part of our customer’s lives at major milestones and events,” Park Luis added. “Over the years, our customers have been sharing these moments with us. Countless Jacks have been worn down the aisle by the bride and bridal party.” The collection with include new patterns and textures, plus a customization option that will allow for bulk ordering for bridal parties.
To buy: Jack Rogers I Do sandal, $148; Jackrogersusa.com.
But a brand doesn’t necessarily have to create a dedicated wedding collection to get in on the action. The latest example of the market’s borrowing of non-bridal fashion comes from Malone Souliers’ new exclusive capsule collection with Shopbop, which launched in late March. The capsule is not bridal focused, but it’s hard to ignore its all-white palette. “It’s not so obvious, but those maribou heels would be major wedding shoes,” commented a guest at the March 28 launch dinner of the capsule collection.